Where are the jobs in new India? BJP has done worse than Congress

A Congress leader and entrepreneur gives NDA a reality check.

 |  4-minute read |   04-10-2017
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Back in 2013, at the height of his Lok Sabha campaign, Narendra Modi, then BJP’s prime-ministerial candidate, swore at a rally in Agra that his government — if elected to power — would create 1 crore jobs annually. Barely four years later, the reality check should come as a cold shower. The country’s unemployment rate has risen to a five-year high of 5 per cent in 2015-16, according to the latest annual household survey on employment conducted by labour bureau.

Nobody doubts the BJP government’s efficiency in headline management. But, recently, a steady trickle of stories, all pointing to a sputtering economy, has stained that one remaining record of the government. Alarmed at the sudden change in narrative, the government has been dropping steady hints that a stimulus package to boost consumption and ultimately job growth is on the way, but it has, so far, failed to show enough courage to deliver, probably because it realises the precarious fiscal position it is in.

reuters-gst_100417062720.jpgHurtling into something without adequate research or ignoring the advice of those better informed has been the hallmark of the BJP sarkar. Think demonetisation. Photo: Reuters

The steady deterioration of the economy under the current PM’s team from the fairly stable position bequeathed to him by our government in 2014 has not escaped the notice of commentators. As per labour bureau figures, India added just 1.35 lakh jobs in eight labour-intensive sectors in 2015, compared to the 9.3 lakh jobs that were created in 2011.

And it is an established fact former PM Manmohan Singh's tenure saw the most successful implementation of the anti-poverty programme with the highest number of people exiting poverty. Add to that the manufacturing jobs created were at an all-time high.

In contrast, the Modi government’s efforts at job creation, despite its many programmes, are floundering. Make in India has remained sluggish due to the failure to generate investment in manufacturing. The parliamentary standing committee of commerce indicated that "the manufacturing sector has grown only by an average of 1.6 per cent in the last 5 years till 2015-16".

Having managed the headlines in the past by claiming that Apple is ready to set up a plant in India, the government has been woefully quiet about developments on the front. India’s dependence on foreign manufacturers for armaments also shows no sign of decline despite the constant tomtomming of the Make in India programme in defence production.

Similarly, Skill India too has failed to deliver - a failure so embarrassing that the Union minister responsible for its execution was removed. A recent report in a newspaper said that of the 30 lakh trained under the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana, less than 3 lakh could be placed. The report further said that the government was misinformed about the demand-supply gap in the job market.

Hurtling into something without adequate research or ignoring the advice of those better informed has been the hallmark of the BJP sarkar. Take, for example, demonetisation. A single, poorly executed, drastically underestimated disruption that has sent the informal workforce reeling.

The RBI's own report has shown the government's claims as hollow and even commended the UPA-era NREGA for providing succour to migrant labourers, who suddenly found their livelihoods ravaged by notebandi.

A recent report in The Indian Express talked of a graduate in Economics and Geography, who was found sewing shoes at Nariman Point to make ends meet.

Originally from Rewa, he represents the neo-middle class that was enthused by Modi’s promise of achhe din. Those days never came, and the man for the last one year has taken to repairing shoes to put his children through school. 

Rahul Gandhi was being more than humble recently, when, during his Berkeley talk, he said both UPA and Modi governments had failed to create enough jobs and since the former had to bow out, the same fate awaits its successor. But UPA was far better at job creation even following the financial recession of 2008 than Modi sarkar, which has had an unprecedented run of good luck in terms of cheaper commodities.

But if your priority lies in stoking social tensions, destroying the future of farmers by ruining cattle trade and spending vast sums to keep your army of trolls employed, I guess a shrunk import bill does not mean greater investment in jobs for India’s youth.

Could that be the reason the ABVP is losing election after election in India’s universities?

Also read: Why the Indian Railways are a mess


Dhiraj Deshmukh Dhiraj Deshmukh @medeshmukh

The author is an entrepreneur and an elected member of the Latur Zila Parishad in Maharashtra.

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