Sunday, 19 March 2023 16:16

Talking Point 9 -  On Unemployment

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Though the Unemployment and Income Disparity have always been the two most horrible parameters exposing the structural problem of the system from the very beginning of the Neoliberal Regime, now, at this current juncture, they have become severely acute – blatantly depicting the crisis of the System itself. The global unemployment rate has disastrously increased by 30% in the era of neoliberal globalization with 75 million unemployed youths searching for jobs all around the world. And with prediction of unavoidable recession in coming years, even neoliberal-imperialist global agencies like  World Bank or IMF are also projecting the figure of 657 million (nearly 8% of the world population) undernourished people in 2030.

The unemployment rate in India has always hovered around 5-5.5% from 1991 until this Modi-era. During past several years, it has increased further; it averaged around 7.4% in 2019, further shot up to over 10% average in 2020 (highest after independence). Mark that the youth (15-24 years) unemployment rate terribly reached 28.96% in 2021. More strikingly the labour force participation rate (LFPR) which was more than 58% in 1991 declined to around 40% in 2021 with a grievous significant reduction by 7% in last 5 years. In November 2022, the labour force was estimated at 43.7 crore which still has not achieved the pre-Pandemic lowest, i.e. 44.2 crores of 2019. Most Devastating is the exclusion of female workforce from labour-market; during Jan-April, 2022, male LFPR was 66% while for female it is 9%; it is majorly due to the decline in agricultural work. All these alarming statistics are tips of the ice-berg – Thanks to Modi-Govt’s notorious manipulation with the Statistics!

The severity of India’s real unemployment crisis is clearly manifested through the sluggish growth of consumption expenditure- that growth is vital to the expansion of domestic demand which would trigger the demand for our production and thus expressing distress in living condition of workers, farmers and all section of toiling people. Strikingly the per capita real consumption expenditure has grown by less than 5% between 2019-20 and 2022-23, which is less than the rate of growth of the gross domestic product (GDP). It means a drastic cut down in the rate of consumption due to incapacity of purchasing power.

Instead of addressing the issues of under-consumption, the so called Amritkaal budget 2023-24 has squeezed the government expenditure on the social sectors while giving shameless tax reduction to super riches. The expenditure in social sector would help to generate employment whereas capital expenditure in infrastructural sector will only lure the gigantic capitalist firms. Conspicuously India’s infrastructural development has become entirely import based and it will further widen our current account balance deficit further and affect negatively the employment generation capacity further.

The most precarious pauperisation arising from unemployment practically manifests in hunger. India with an alarming incessant decline in per-capita food grain supply has ranked 107 out of 121 countries in the Global Hunger Index 2022, with its child wasting rate at 19.3% - being the highest in the world. Around 20 crore additional people have fallen under poverty line by the end of 2021. These figures depict the criticality of the current situation and the urgency of our tasks hereon.

To clearly understand the problem of unemployment with all its peculiarities and diversities, we have to comprehend the special characteristics of development of capitalism along with sustained and perilously stressful reproduction of petty-production in modern India. Petty production in agriculture, being the largest employing sector in India had always absorbed increasing number of work force from 1951 until 2001. From 2001, the number started decreasing in absolute terms. It was the clear expression of the growing agrarian distress.

The anti-farmer policies of successive governments, overwhelming takeover of agricultural sector by big corporate and corresponding increase in cost of input items like seeds, pesticides or fertilizers which made the agriculture an unremunerative venture have caused disastrous Agrarian Crisis.  It has resulted in the constant decay in share of employment generation through agriculture and agrarian distress with increasing precariousness in employment in all sort of petty production aggravated.

In post-colonial India, the development of capitalism has traversed a very non-linear path through primitive accumulation as well as capitalist appropriation; sometime through direct dispossession from means of production, through expropriation, sometime through coercion of petty-economy distressfully squeezing the income, through appropriation via a complex network. Now India’s employment market has become most perilously governed by the self-employed petty producers. 95% of firms in India employ fewer than 5 people. They worked as disguised wage labourers or unpaid family-labourers, exploited, virtually squeezed by the attack of big corporate and monopolies controlling the market. The introduction of ‘gig economy’-induced self-employed jobs has mystified the employer-employee relation more, further disguising the exploitation. The casualisation-contractualisation-apprenticisation of workforce in formal sector has degenerated the precarity to an unprecedented level.

The RSS like agent institutions of ruling classes are pro-active in all fora to divert the discontent of the masses, in order to cover up the blatant nakedness, increasing barbarity and perversion of the capitalist system and its structural crisis. The corporate-hindutva think-tanks are introducing and aggressively campaigning in favour of various so called populist schemes in one hand, on the other hand they are seeking to polarise the society in the name of religion, caste or ultra-nationalistic chauvinism to distract the anger of the people from the ruling classes and their policies. CITU, AIKS and AIAWU are trying to keep on forging struggle against the root cause of the miseries due to the unemployment crisis and to keep raising the slogans of sustainable alternatives within this dispensation also, which can alter the balance of class forces in the existing society. This task needs a continually developing concrete understanding of the problem in the contemporary situation.

The World Inequality Report, 2022 has published that per adult average annual income of bottom 50% population of India based on purchasing power parity is Rs. 53,610. If a household of 2 adults and 2 children is considered, then average income of bottom half household will be Rs. 8,935 per month. It is far below than the 2017’s Central Pay Commission-stipulated minimum wage, the bare minimum remuneration for subsistence, Rs 18,000, with which dearness allowances were added to neutralize the inflation. The meagerly low income of producers, self-employed, under-employed or contractual workers, and unemployed youths locked in various petty and informal production sectors is the most prominent reality today.

The huge reserve army of unemployed, vocationally educated youths with the up-to-date knowledge about the most modern technology is heinously utlised by the ruling class to further degenerate the quality of the employment of the working people. The job-losses of the running work-force further negatively diminish the employability of the new entrée in the labour-market. These two-pronged attacks devastatingly affect the quality of lives of working class, both employed or those in the queue for jobs.  We can certainly claim that a material ground has emerged when India’s workers peasants need to fight united for ensuring right to employment, statutory wage and need-based income for a decent life. 

What should be the righteous possible role of the state in this grave situation? The Global Inequality Report, 2022 showed that the progressive income tax rate in mid of 1970s, in India was more than 95% which has gradually come down to 25.17% today; although the beneficiary corporate class has extracted much bigger accumulation of wealth compared to actual real value-generation on their account during the same period.  In 2021, the direct corporation income tax received was only 7.19 lakh crores. To ensure Rs. 21,000 minimum income to bottom half households, 28.80 lakh crores will be needed and it can be raised through taxing the corporate at a rate similar to 1970s. The direct income support schemes hitherto existing or proposed are not only pity insufficient but also came up to snatch away the present free and subsidised service schemes like PDS, universal health care, mid-day meal or fuel, electricity and fertiliser subsidies.

Article 21 of the Constitution of India provides, “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.” While elaborating the Article, the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India once explained : “The right to live includes the right to live with human dignity and all that goes along with it, viz., the bare necessities of life such as adequate nutrition, clothing and shelter over the head and facilities for reading writing and expressing oneself in diverse forms, freely moving about and mixing and mingling with fellow human beings and must include the right to basic necessities the basic necessities of life and also the right to carry on functions and activities as constitute the bare minimum expression of human self.”

After 75 years of our independence, the workers, underemployed, unemployed, self-employed youths, the petty producers and the peasants are now in a situation to forge a war, together, for their constitutional Right to Life with dignity and assurance. together, for their constitutional Right to Life with dignity and assurance. The slogans must echo together: Tax the rich, guarantee the minimum income in parity to the statutory minimum wages for every household of India. Ensure minimum wages, ensure MSPs, advance the PDS, regulate the market prices and ensure the right to work. These struggles will build-up the organic basis of alliance of workers-peasants-petty producers-unemployed youths to change the class balance in modern India in favour of toiling masses; unite and fight for Right to Life.

CITU-AIKS-AIAWU call upon all sections of workers, peasants, self-employed, under-employed and employed in all other precarious forms to unleash a valiant movement in demand to make Right to Decent Work and Decent Life as fundamental rights through appropriate amendment in the Constitution. March to Mazdoor-Kisan-Sangharsh Rally to demand to the governments at Centre and States to formulate policies to generate decent permanent employment, fill-up the vacant posts in all public sectors, regularize the non-permanent work-force, expand the Guarantee of Work in Urban areas with 300 days allotment, ensure Rs. 5000 unemployment allowances and ensure minimum support income for all section of toiling masses.

This is a Battle of Working Class and Peasantry – to prepare the Reserve Army of Unemployed to March Together – Convert the Crisis into Consensus for Social Change.

Unite and Fight for the Right to Decent Work to ensure Constitutional Right to Life!

Come and join the Mazdoor-Kisan-Sangharsh Rally en masse!

Read 2400 times Last modified on Tuesday, 21 March 2023 04:57