Ek Saal, Bura Haal

Namo Ka Ek Saal, Gamoh Ka Ek Saal


One year of Modi

Jobs: Just Lies and Hot Air

Modi sarkar’s biggest betrayal of the Indian people has been on its promise of jobs. During his year-long election campaign in 2013-14, Narendra Modi promised jobs to everybody, especially the youth. After being appointed to lead the BJP campaign for general elections, in his first rally at Hyderabad on 11 August 2013, he harped on youth unemployment and the failure of Congress to create jobs. Since then, as he crisscrossed the country in his corporate plane addressing rallies, Modi continuously promised that if elected he would create jobs. Here is a sample of his promise (2 March 2014): “If our nation has to progress, and if we wish to add wings to the aspirations of our youth, we need to create enough jobs to employ each & every youngster joining the work force”.

This promise attracted a huge number of people towards BJP because in the preceding years under UPA, job creation was very low – it was the period of ‘jobless growth’. Modi saw the frustration of people and he offered hope. After getting elected, in his first speech on Independence Day, he reiterated that if India has to grow, more and more jobs will have to be created. And, for the first time he spelt out a sketch or a plan for giving jobs to people.

“Today, if we want to give more and more employment opportunities to the youth, then we will have to promote the manufacturing sector,” Modi thundered from Red Fort. What he was saying was that we need industrialization so that people are able to shift from unremunerative agriculture to better paying industry. But how will industrialization take place? He had hinted at this on 15 August but it was finally spelt out a month later on 25 September with the announcement of “Make in India” campaign. Foreign companies should come to India, set up manufacturing units, and employ young Indians to produce goods, which the company can then sell abroad. This was the quixotic plan, formulated by Modi’s NRI advisors as a panacea for India’s chronic and devastating employment crisis.

One year has gone. Modi has visited 18 countries, most of them to beg for investment in India. Let’s have a look at how Modi’s grand plan – manufacturing jobs-industrial production-exports-foreign investment – is working.

The Labour Bureau, Shimla, publishes a quarterly report on employment changes in eight core industries – textiles including apparels, leather, metals, automobiles, gems &jewelry, transport, IT/BPO and handloom/powerloom. It is based on a sample and hence not comprehensive, but it gives a good idea of which way the wind is blowing.

According to these reports, in 2014, about 4.2 lakh new jobs were added. Modi was at the helm for most of 2014.In the previous year, 2013, the number of jobs created in these 8 industries was 4.19 lakh. Clearly there is not much change from UPA to NDA. The Modi magic has failed and his promises have turned out to be as empty as the Congress’s.

About 1.2 crore persons join the labour force every year in India. Just having 4 lakh new jobs in industry is not going to help. So what happens to the remaining people? They join their brothers and sisters in low paying informal sector jobs, migrate to cities, live in horrendous conditions, face sickness and disability or work in fields on empty stomachs. Under employment – not getting sufficient work – is what plagues India, and it is death by a thousand cuts. Modi was aware of it when he was seeking votes, he shed crocodile tears at the plight of India, but now he has forgotten all his promises. He struts about the world, flaunting Rs.4 crore suits and taking selfies with world leaders, while India grinds on in its usual way.

What about industrial production under Modi? Perhaps it has expanded and thus created more job opportunities? The Index of Industrial Production (IIP) which is a measure of how industrial production is growing, increased by only 2.8 percent in 2014-15 over the previous year, according to government data. This is an improvement over 2013-14 (-0.1%) and 2012-13 (1.1%), which were years of stagnation under UPA II, but it is nowhere near the earlier high marks. What is noteworthy is that within overall industrial growth, the manufacturing sector grew at only 2.3% percent while mining crawled up by just 1.4%. Only electricity production increased by 8%.

India’s exports are showing a declining trend for five months straight, as of April data released by the government. This is not surprising, considering that most Western economies are in the grips of a slowdown. But then how is Modi promising that jobs will be created when foreign investors will make in India and export stuff outside?

Latest Reserve Bank data shows that although there has been an upward trend in foreign financial flows into India, the bulk of it was going into the share market not in productive capacities. In 2014-14, over $75 billion net foreign investment came to India, out of which $40 billion (54%) was invested in the share market. In the previous year, 2013-14 net foreign investment was about $22 billion of which $5 billion (22%) was in the share market. So on the foreign investment count also, Modi is failing – his pro corporate, pro-West rhetoric is only attracting hot volatile money from fly-by-night investors. Jobs are not created by such investments.

The tragic thing in all this is that Modi and his followers do not hesitate to repeatedly lie to the people on the jobs question, knowing that it is a burning problem that will get people’s attention. Thus, Arun Jaitley, the finance minister, recently said that if the Land Acquisition Bill is passed, 30 crore people will get jobs. Aside from being a dirty trick to get legitimacy for the draconian Land Bill which is being opposed by the farmers all over the country, the figure quoted by Jaitley is a staggering falsehood – 30 crore additional jobs in a country where total workforce is about 46 crores!

Meanwhile, the only method of delivering some succor to people starved of decent jobs and incomes – the job guarantee scheme (MGNREGS) – is being deliberately and slyly strangled by the Modi government. According to latest figures, in just 50 days of the financial year 2015-16, 2.27 crore people demanded work under the job guarantee scheme but only 1.1 crore actually got it. That is, more than half the people seeking work were turned back. This is happening because, central funds are not being released to state governments for the crucial scheme. This is Modi’s way of tackling the unemployment crisis.

Intoxicated by the adulation he receives from domestic and international bourgeoisie, Modi and his followers have forgotten that governments with even bigger majorities were crushed and thrown out by angry and discontented people. That is the fate that Modi Sarkar is rushing towards.