The infamous adage “promises are meant to be broken” is coming true about employment, in the current administration.
Narendra Modi, during his election campaign in 2014, had whole-heartedly promised creating 10 million jobs for aspiring Indians, ignoring the scenario of the policy blame that he quite meticulously planned against the preceding UPA government. It has come back haunting him now. India’s unemployment rate, has been sluggish, if not comprehensively moving either way, rising to 5% in 2015-16 from 4.9% in 2013-14.
Modi’s policies are not exactly useless. But they are not profound enough. While 2016 and 2017 till date, have seen several targeted policies in the socioeconomic sectors, nothing has been exactly as fruitful as it should have been. The unemployment rate is one such grossly fragmentary and somewhat mismanaged indicator.
Sustaining employment conditions and executing wise governance to keep fueling employment growth is what the government, irrespective of circumstances, is expected to deliver. Employment creation is linked to policy decisions, as the intensity of interconnectedness between nations and economic sectors have grown to unprecedented levels. Modi’s drive for employment generation is largely based on the amount, consistency, and frequency of foreign investments, which to his assumptions have been the most unreliable. While the conservative Trump administration is axing Indian jobs with each blow of immigration restriction, India’s incapability to utilise its “employee factory” that delivers 10 million fresh faces every year is a factor for deep contemplation. The mixed bag of ‘rise in unemployment and simultaneous rise in GDP growth’ is a rather sad surprise, giving Modi administration a good enough reason to reassess its policy outlook. The “jobless growth” phenomenon resembles “deflation” in its sentiment and helplessness, culminating into polarisation of wealth. But, has this not been a perennial problem in India?
Obviously, propelling employment rates would help in balanced growth too. Given that India is a developing nation requiring consistent inflow of funds to build its infrastructure strength and expand its reach of essential services, employment is actually a by-product of natural economic progression. However, it seems to have been mishandled or simply miscalculated by the Modi administration. The biggest downside of current policies is manifested through its support of low-employment sectors such as financial services and banking, at the expense of high-employment sectors. This has reduced employment opportunities rather substantially. Pushing for aggressive adaptation of technology-based working practices, which replaces 10 jobs with one, is inversely proportional to employment growth.
The Modi administration should identify high-employment sectors, like infrastructure, construction, retail, and the manufacturing and production sectors, and integrate them in progressive yet inclusive policies. When a government leaves employment growth to the mercy of market conditions, which conversely are affected by government policies, its outcome may be more unaccomplished than real. India has never been able to utilise its massive “employee factory” like China, which is now exporting its domestic labour upsurge.
India has a long way to go in employment and employability rates., inspite of laudable growth in economic terms. This reflects Modi administration’s incapability to align global economic growth prospects with domestic employment growth. It has ignorantly stayed concentrated on populist investment policies, like bullet trains, conspicuous statues and attention-seeking beautification of cities and towns, but, sadly, essential investments in affordable transportation, healthcare, education, electricity, and food and housing remain unattended and stagnated.
The administration has put on a dismal show to effectively utilise ‘employment generating’ domestic market forces. Government inconsistency in forecasting global economic growth sentiments and equating them with its employment targets has been a trigger for rising unemployment. Repairing a failure starts with its willful acceptance, else, the continuation of populist policies would lead the Modi regime to a state of “grand arrogance”.