Opinion | India Can Hide Unemployment Data, But Not The Truth
The Center for Monitoring the Indian Economy, a well-respected business information company that collects primary data on various aspects of the Indian economy, estimates that the country’s unemployment rate in December 2018 reached 7.38 percent.
According to the “State of Working India 2018,” a large study conducted by the Center for Sustainable Employment at Azim Premji University, India’s youth unemployment now stands at 16 percent. Women hold just 16 percent ofjobs in the service sector. In 2011, only 13 percent of senior officers, legislators and managers were women; by 2015, the figure had dropped to 7 percent.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that people are hurting. Early last year, Indian Railways advertised about 89,400 new jobs. Government posts always are coveted in India — they mean job security and a decent salary — but more than 23 million adults applied for these positions, defying all expectations. Earlier this year, the secretariat of the government of Maharashtra, a state in west-central India, advertised 13 waiting jobs in its canteen. There were 7,000 applicants, many of them university graduates.
India’s growth rate remains robust, but the benefits of the country’s growth have been concentrated almost entirely at the top, with grim implications for the working classes and the lower-middle classes, women and the young.
These effects aren’t just the accidental results of the government’s decision, say, to ban certain currency bills in late 2016 (which proved to be terribly misguided) or to transform the indirect tax system into the new Goods and Services Tax (a move in the right direction but that was poorly executed and hurt small businesses). Inequality has grown, in numerous ways, a recent report indicates.
The Modi government’s economic policy has been disproportionately focused on a few big corporations, neglecting small firms and traders, the agricultural sector and most workers. The results are now showing.
Kaushik Basu, the C. Marks Professor of International Studies and professor of economics at Cornell University, was chief economic adviser to the Indian government in 2009-12 and chief economist of the World Bank in 2012-16.
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