Figures from different sectors of the economy in the past few months have again and again confirmed the fact of poor job creation and the consequent increase in unemployment levels in the country. Jobs in the government sector, those provided by government schemes and employment in the private sector, both organised and unorganised, have seen declines, and there have not been any significant signs of any improvement in the situation. According to data tabled in the Rajya Sabha, the flagship job schemes of the Modi government, which also included some from the ‘Make in India’ project, created only 27.5 lakh jobs in the past four and a half years. These schemes included the Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP). This was against the promise of generating 10 crore jobs under the ‘Make in India’ programme alone, though this was to be achieved by 2022. At such a pace, there is no chance of the target being achieved even long past 2022.
There have been other red signals, too. The Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) has reported that the unemployment rate in December 2018, at 7.4%, was the highest in 27 months. From January to December last year, the country actually lost 11 million jobs, instead of adding any new jobs. About 85% of the lost jobs were in rural areas, which are more impacted by poverty and distress than urban areas. The serious situation on the jobs front points to the failure of the government to frame policies which are conducive to job creation and, worse, to the adoption and implementation of wanton policies that actually destroyed jobs. Many factors have contributed to the situation. The blow dealt by the November 2016 demonetisation, which sucked out 86% of cash from the economy, is still being felt. The botched introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) system was another reason. There has been no major increase in investment, which creates employment, either in the public sector or the private sector. Fresh investment actually declined in the past two years. The high NPAs of banks and the collapse of IL&FS have hit the credit situation.
All this has contributed to the decline of both manufacturing and agriculture, which are major job creators. When the government’s employment schemes performed badly, there was no attempt to improve their working. In fact, the government had only renamed existing schemes and launched new ones that were good only for publicity and sloganeering. The government’s plans and agenda have been different, and it has not taken any major step to create jobs, or to maintain existing ones. GDP growth figures do not mean much to the people if jobs are not created.