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Spectre of Jobless Growth

Although the central government claims the downslide in Chinese economy would not affect growth and employment in India, various survey reports suggest that the trend of rising unemployment rate in the country is likely to worsen for Indians of working age. The worrying part is that educated youth in the age group of 18-25 years despite being skilled are facing unemployment issues since there are not enough opportunities for them. During the last year of the UPA-II rule, one in three graduates in the country was reported to be unemployed. Unemployment rate in India has been registering an increasing trend since 2011 when it was 3.5 per cent. It rose to 3.6 per cent in 2012 and climbed to 3.7 per cent in 2013 and to 3.8 per cent in 2014. According to the International Labour Organisation, India has been experiencing ‘jobless growth’, meaning that the growth in total employment was very insignificant.

One of the proofs of ‘jobless growth’ is available in the fact that the participation of people in work – which is shown as labour force participation rate or the ratio of labour force to population – is also not showing improvement. The ratio of the rural male working force to the population has remained more or less the same, and the ratio of female working force to the population has declined for both rural and urban areas. The dismal labour force participation rate makes a mockery of the big claim of the NDA leadership, and before that of UPA leadership, of India benefiting greatly from the “demographic dividend” it enjoyed. Demographic dividend is a concept that takes a very positive view of high population. It takes into consideration that the ratio of labour force to total population rises, while the ratio of dependants whom the labour force has to support falls. Experts say that would mean not only higher output, but also more savings and investment, leading to a higher growth rate. However, with the ratio of labour force to population not rising, the demographic dividend is not coming to the people or the economy.

Today, with the family planning measures and control of fertility rate, the number of dependants in the average family has been declining. At the same time, with the improvement in health care, the working age and life expectancy of people have been growing. So the number of people fit and eligible and looking for work has been rising. But the growth in employment opportunities is not matching the demand of labour for jobs. People have to eke out livelihoods far below their skills and potential. In a recent case, many people with postgraduate degrees applied for low rank jobs in UP.

The ‘Make in India’ programme will not succeed without drawing the large number of unemployed rural and urban youth, educated, semi-educated or just literate, into it. Today 9 out of 10 Indians of working age are earning livelihood in informal sector. No wonder the informal sector has been growing much faster than formal employment. But the wage levels and working conditions in the informal sector are very low. There is very little monitoring and regulation in the sector. India needs to build skills among the millions of youth working in the informal sector or unemployed. More self-employment opportunities should also be created.

The Inscrutable Judge

The revelation by former Intelligence Bureau chief T V Rajeswar in a just-released book that the IB made ‘discreet inquiries’ in 1975 on which way the judgement in the Allahabad High Court case against Indira Gandhi’s election code violations would go should no more be surprising to anyone, as citizens have come to realise that government leaders do misuse intelligence agencies for their partisan interests. Rajeswar, who was joint director then, says he sent an IB officer to make inquiries but he failed to get even the slightest clue to the mind of Justice Jagmohanlal Sinha who was the judge in the case. Justice Sinha declared Indira guilty of dishonest election practices, excessive poll expenditure and of using government machinery and officials for party purposes. He ruled her election void and also barred her from running for any office for six years. Rajeswar’s disclosures bring out two vital issues we as citizens should make a note of. One, though he does not say Indira directly asked IB to make inquiries, he says there was “keenness bordering on fear” among those close to Gandhi to find out what was going on in the mind of the judge, which implies conveyance to IB of keenness of Indira. So, PMs can misuse IB when their political career is at stake or for their personal interest. The second thing the disclosures show is the inscrutability of the judge, which suggests his fairness, boldness and independence and strengthens our faith in Indian judiciary.

 

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