Demographic Burden

Demographic Burden

NSSO job survey controversy is alarming

Here is a shocker. Even as host of financial schemes were introduced by the central government in the past four and a half years to eradicate unemployment, a job survey conducted by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) has pricked the employment ballon. If the job survey report is taken into account, these schemes have failed to provide employment to the unemployed. 

As per the job survey, the country’s unemployment rate stood at over a four-decade high of 6.1 per cent during 2017-18, post demonetization, and was highest since 1972-73. It was 2.2 per cent in 2011-12.

However, the government calls the figures ‘fake’ as the statistical ministry had yet to approve the findings of the survey. Otherwise, the job data was supposed to be published in December 2018.  The controversy over the job survey report got complicated when   the National Statistical Commission (NSC) chairman along with another official took exit route in protest against the government for non-publication of the job data.

Remarkably, NSC is the apex advisory body on statistical matters.Technically, as suggested by the experts, the job survey report once approved by the NSC is always the final version. This is to be put up in public domain, ideally within a week.

As general elections in the country are on cards, the NDA government seems to have caught itself on falling short of promises. It’s the ghost of demonetization move which must be haunting the government now. It’s visible even to a blind eye that the demonetization led to lack of employment opportunities for the country’s rising workforce. It has rendered millions jobless. Majority of leading listed companies continue to show a net decline in their employment numbers as against that in previous years.

It’s not the matter of job creation alone, the nature of employment opportunities is equally a cause of concern. I have come across surveys which reveal that ‘one-third of the workforce is employed as casual labour while just 17 percent of the people are working in the organised sector as salary earners.’ So, by virtue of this fact, a bulk of the population gets employed on a contractual basis. The employees in contractual segment  are deprived of various benefits, including social security benefits.

We have also a segment of employed people ending up working for wages below what they deserve. Basically, in formal sector, the government jobs are reducing instead of rising and the private companies are also very conservative in adding new jobs. This leaves the huge army of jobless to take route of informal sector to try and lay hand on any job. According to the labour bureau data of a particular year, ‘only 60 percent of the workforce managed to find work for a full year while 35 percent worked only for six to eleven months.’

Precisely, the NDA government has failed to keep its promise  of creating one crore jobs to eradicate youth unemployment in the country. At a time when elections are a few months away, a labour bureau data reveals that more than halfway through its term, only five lakh jobs were added.

Why the government has failed to create jobs? There are some technical flaws observed in the policy of the government. All Labour Organization member countries are required to have an employment policy. India is the country which doesn’t have such a policy. In absence of a national employment policy, it has been an uphill task to create jobs in varied sectors of the country’s economy. 

Surprisingly, the government announced formulation of such policy in March last year which otherwise could have been taken into hand right from the first year of assuming the power in 2014. Before coming to power, prime minister Narendra Modi had promised one crore jobs for the unemployed. So, the national employment policy could have been prioritized.

At the moment fear continues to loom large that the jobs scenario may only worsen in the years ahead. Let job creation is prioritized on the ground to avoid a demographic burden.

(The views are of the author & not that of the organization he works for)