Contain Unemployment; Concrete measures for Job Creation

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Two out of three people in our country are below the age of 35. Over ten lakh more people in India need employment every month. That is, at least 1.2 crore new jobs have to be created every year. During the campaign to the Parliament elections in 2014, BJP and Modi promised creation of 2 crore new jobs every year.

Now it is more than three years since the BJP came to power at the centre with its own majority and Modi saab became Prime Minister. What is the situation today?

According to the government’s own data, only 2.31 lakh new jobs were created in eight labour intensive sectors during the nine months ending December 2016. In 2015, the number of new jobs created was 1.55 lakhs.

The government, particularly the Prime Minister and the finance minister never tire of making claims of the fast economic growth in the country. But, clearly, this is not being reflected in job creation. Neither has the claimed economic grfowth brought the promised ‘acche din’ for the common people.

Jobs are, not only, not being created; large numbers of jobs are also being lost. Jobs are vanishing.

According to a new data based on a series of surveys conducted by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) between January 2016 and April 2017, around 15 lakhs jobs were lost across the country due to demonetisation. The data show that while India’s employed force grew from 401 million in April 2016 to 406.5 million in December 2016, it fell to 405 million in the four month survey period of January through April 2017.

Seven big IT companies including Wipro, Infosys, Cognizant, Tech Mahindra, TCS etc are reported to have planned to lay off 56000 engineers. Some reports estimate that around 6 lakh jobs in the IT sector would be lost in the next 3-4 years. According to McKinsey and Company, nearly half of the workers in the IT sector would become redundant in the next three years.

This is in addition to the large numbers of jobs being lost due to the closures of factories across the country due to which lakhs of employed are becoming unemployed.

Agriculture, which employs largest number of people in our country, continues to be in crisis. The number of days of work in agriculture has drastically come down. Hundreds of thousands of people from rural areas are forced to migrate to towns and cities in search of jobs. The distress among people searching for work is evident in the huge increase in the number of people seeking work under the MGNREGA. But the BJP government is eager to dump MGNREGA. Despite the statutory entitlement of 100 days of work in a year, less than 50 days of work was provided in 2016. Wages are not being paid for months at a stretch for the work done owing to cut in allocations.

The BJP government is spending thousands of crores of public money to camouflage this alarming employment situation in the country. It is releasing huge advertisements of its ‘Skill India’, ‘Make in India’, ‘Start Up India’ etc to create illusions among the people. At the same time, it is also claiming that its labour law amendments and the huge concessions to industry worth around Rs 10 lakh crore every year, are meant to attract investment that would generate employment.

But the reality is otherwise. Despite all its tall claims, private sector is not coming forward to make any big investment. The investment made is not generating significant employment. A Karnataka state government survey reported that, on an average, Rs 7.4 lakh investment could generate one job in 2006-07; in 2014-15, this has increased by 60 times; an investment of Rs 4.5 crores was generating only one job. This is in general, the trend in employment generation today.

City wise, six out of the eight metros saw a decline of 18% to 29% in hiring activity in April 2017 compared to one year ago. IT sector was the worst hit, mainly due to automation, robotics etc and to some extent due to visa restrictions in the USA.

The fact is that for the private sector, profit is the driving force, not social service or generation of employment for our youth. Despite pocketing all the concessions, they want to increase their profits by spending less on wages. They want to further lower the share of wages through mechanisation and latest technology like automation, use of robots etc.

The BJP government’s decisions related to privatisation and strategic sale of the public sector including defence, railways, etc will further worsen the employment situation in the coming days.

For the BJP and its government, empty rhetoric is for the workers; benefits in deeds are for the corporates, domestic and foreign.

The trade unions have been demanding that the government adopt policies that would generate decent employment for the women and men of our country; that whatever concessions are being made to industry must be made conditional to employment protection and generation.

The 9-11 November dharna by the central trade unions and industrial federations is meant to loudly voice this demand of the millions of young, of the workers, of the people in the country to bring this insensitive government to its senses.

 

 

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