IN the whole of last year, just 2.3 lakh jobs were added in eight key non-farm sectors of the economy, according to a recent government report. These eight sectors are manufacturing, construction, trade, transport, accommodation and restaurants, IT/BPO, education and health. All together, they employ over two crore workers. So, the addition of new jobs amounts to a mere 1.1 percent of the total.
Remember: Narendra Modi himself, and all his associates in the government had promised the people of India that tackling unemployment by creating jobs will be the biggest priority of their government. They had promised that their much tom-tommed programmes like ‘Make in India’, ‘Skill India’, ‘Startup India’ and others would resolve the joblessness that haunts India and set the country on the path of prosperity. Modi had in fact justified his kowtowing to foreign investors by saying that their investments will create jobs.
Now, three years down the line all this has vanished in thin year. Modi, Jaitley, et al are no longer talking about creating jobs. All the schemes are forgotten. They are just concentrating on winning elections and thinking up new tricks to fool the people like removing red lights from VIP cars or visiting temples to pray. Meanwhile people across the country are wondering – what happened to all the promises of jobs?
Reports from the rural job guarantee scheme (MGNREGS) indicate that unemployment continues unabated and in fact it seems to be worsening. In Modi’s first year as prime minister, 4.65 crore households demanded work in the scheme. Next year, in 2015-16, this number had increased 15 percent to reach 5.35 crore. Then, in 2016-17, it further increased by 6 percent to reach a staggering 5.69 crore households in search of work.
Even as the demand for low paying work in MGNREGS increases, 10-11 percent of applicants are not given jobs. According to government data, last year nearly 58 lakh households that wanted work in the scheme were turned back.
In the current financial year 2017-18, only 35 days have passed but the number of households demanding work has already crossed 1.38 crore. This is despite the fact that last year’s monsoon was much better than the preceding years.
As per the latest report, increase in new jobs is not only very slow but also that it is highly imbalanced. For instance almost half of the 2.1 lakh new jobs added are in two sectors – education and health which together added 1.1 lakh new jobs.
Growth in manufacturing jobs is recorded as being just short of 1 percent, and that too because of a sudden increase in the last quarter of 2016. This in itself is highly suspect because it was in this period that the disastrous demonetisation was imposed on the country, with consequent job losses.
Manufacturing sector is the backbone of the non-farm economy and employs nearly half of the workers in the selected eight sectors. A mere one percent growth is virtually nothing for this massive sector. This is despite the fact that it was the target of attention by the Modi government through its ‘Make in India’ and ‘Skill India’ programmes, as also of efforts to woo foreign direct investment. It is clear that all this has failed spectacularly.
The failure of Indian capitalist class to invest more in manufacturing, coupled with reluctance of foreign capital to invest in productive work in India, means that not only are new jobs not being created but existing ones are being cut on a country-wide scale. This is leading to a worsening of the job situation, forget about improvement. Several recent reports by industry analysts indicate that IT, telecom and the banking and financial services sectors which have been the main job creators in recent years are now getting rid of their workforce. One report says that these three sectors will throw out at least 10 lakh employees in the coming 12-18 months because of a slowing economy, mergers among telecom giants and automation. Many of the startups – much applauded by Modi – are folding up or demanding more concessions to survive
Even foreign analysts, who otherwise do not tire of praising Modi, are worried about the lack of job growth. Over 30 percent of youth aged 15-29 in India are not in employment, education or training (NEETs), according to a recent report by the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), an organisation of advanced capitalist countries. This is more than double the OECD average of 14.6 percent and almost three times that of China (11.2 percent).
Although the government has been patting itself on the back for the projected high GDP growth rate for India, the nuts and bolts of the economy are all in deep freeze. This is why there is no growth in jobs.
The Index of Industrial Production (IIP) released monthly by the government confirms this dire situation with a rise of a mere one percent between January 2015 and January 2017.
According to latest data from the Reserve Bank of India, the same period saw gross bank credit to industries increases by a mere 0.3 percent. This includes credit disbursals to micro, small, medium and large industries and together makes up nearly 40 percent of all non-food credit. The meager increase in credit to industry is a symptom of the flagging growth in manufacturing which is also reflected in lack of jobs growth.
Further confirmation of the languishing manufacturing sector comes from second advanced estimates of national income and expenditure released by the government last month. Growth in investment in fixed capital known as gross fixed capital formation dipped by a factor of 10 between 2015-16 and 2016-17 from 6.1 percent to a shocking 0.6 percent in 2016-17. This implies that the corporate sector is not investing in new production arrangements.
Growth in gross value added (GVA) at basic prices – a measure of actual production – has slipped from 7.8 percent in 2015-16 to 6.7 percent in 2016-17. This is yet another confirmation that the economy is not too well. And hence the flagging growth in jobs.