VIEWPOINT

Original Print | October 30, 2017 | The Times of India

Three ideas for how jobs can be created for India’s surplus of 50 million workers

Many people think that one of the major economic failures of the current government is in the area of jobs. It came to power promising jobs for ‘aspirational India’ in place of ‘doles’. While ‘doles’ remain largely in place, Labour Bureau data seem to suggest even an absolute decline in formal sector jobs over the last three years, instead of any significant rise.

The backlog of ‘surplus workers’ that include the underemployed in all sectors (as estimated in the India Employment Report 2016) exceeds 50 million workers – this does not include the women who are often discouraged dropouts from the labour force. Rhetoric or electoral ‘jumla’ aside jobs, particularly formal sector regular jobs which the young in India hanker after, have been a chronic problem over several decades.

If one takes the whole period since 1972-73 when National Sample Survey started collecting employment and unemployment data on a comprehensive basis, job growth has been relatively sluggish (except for short spells, as in the first decade of this century, and that too mainly in the construction sector). Many alternative solutions for the job problem have been suggested, like larger investment in infrastructure (particularly electricity and roads), education and credit to small and medium enterprises. Some of these involve structural problems which can be resolved only in the medium to long run.

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