An army of unemployed knocks at Modi’s palace gates

August 19, 2016

On 2 September 2016, crores of workers in India will strike work in order to force a callous government to reverse its anti-worker, anti-people policies. Among the burning issues being raised by the workers is employment and the loss of jobs. Providing jobs was one of the key promises made by Modi and his party in 2014 while seeking votes from people. Two years later the people have found out that Modi is simply continuing the same policies that previous UPA government had followed, which failed to create decent jobs for people.

In 2015, only 1.75 lakh jobs were added in eight labour intensive industries. This is the worst performance for any year period going back to 2010. (See Table)

Jobs added (lakh)

2010- UPA - 8.65
2011- UPA - 9.30
2012- UPA - 5.48
2013- UPA - 4.19
2014- UPA/Modi- 4.21
2015- Modi- 1.75
Source: QES, Labour Bureau
This shocking performance is revealed in the Quarterly Employment Surveys done by the Labour Bureau of the government covering eight labour intensive industries: textile, leather, metals, automobiles, gems & jewelry, transport, ITES/BPO and handloom. The last report covered October-December 2015 and was released earlier this year.

In Modi’s tenure covering 18 months between June 2014 and December 2015, just 4.1 lakh jobs have been added. About 130 lakh people enter the job seekers army every year in India. Compared to that these eight industries which used to provide much higher employment in the past are currently adding just about 2.7 lakh jobs per year. This scale of crisis is something that has perhaps never been witnessed before in India. And the tragedy is that the present government has no clue about how to resolve this crisis.

During Modi’s tenure job-losses have occurred in leather, automobiles, gems & jewelry, and transport sectors. The only sectors where some increase has happened are textiles, metals and ITES/BPO. In the last quarter for which data is available (Oct-Dec 2015) two of these also showed loss of jobs – metals and ITES/BPO. The crisis is slowly engulfing every sector.

Various government schemes and pronouncements by ministers and BJP bigwigs in the past two years show that the government is groping for solutions. They claim that Make in India program will boost jobs. Then they say that industrial corridors will create millions of jobs. Then it is small and medium industries that will create jobs. Intermittently, they say that information technology (Smart Cities, Digital India, etc.) will solve the jobs problem. All these prescriptions have been bombastically announced by BJP leaders and government functionaries in just two years, and tom-tommed by the servile media endlessly. But the cruel reality is that job creation in falling relentlessly.

Wave of Job losses in industries

In fact, latest govt. data shows that investment itself is tapering off. If there is no money being invested by industrialists then how can new jobs be created? Gross Fixed Capital Formation – that is, the fresh investment in machinery and plant buildings and related infrastructure – increased by just 3.9% in 2015-16 compared to 4.1% in 2014-15. As share of GDP, it declined from 33% in 2013-14 to 32.3% in the first year of Modi Sarkar (2014-15) and further dipped to 31.2% in 2015-16.

It is small wonder that no new jobs are being created – the capitalist class is just not investing enough. This in turn is reflected in industrial production slowdown. The index for industrial production for manufacturing has increased by only 0.9% between June 2015 and June 2016. The Modi government, despite all its bowing and scraping to them, is failing to inspire any confidence. And the people have to pay the price for this disastrous situation.

In fact, since many sectors of industry are now integrated with the global economy, downturns in China and Europe have caused declines in production in India in a range of commodities like steel, leather, gems & jewelry etc. Domestic downturn has sapped industries like construction, cement, automobiles etc. All this has unleashed a brutal attack on workers’ livelihoods with thousands getting thrown out of jobs. This is Modi’s gift to working people – not only are there no new jobs, even existing ones are being snatched away.

Unemployment drags down wages

This joblessness is having another very catastrophic effect. With so many people unemployed, employers are able to push down wages because there are many who are forced to work at very low wages just to survive. There is a mad scramble to get secure jobs. Last year, over 23 lakh people applied for just 368 peons’ posts advertised by the UP state government. That’s an indication of how desperate the situation is.

But Modi Sarkar continues to give speeches, hold mega events and dole out false promises. It takes care to protect and advance the interests of domestic and foreign capitalists, providing them with all kinds of concessions and incentives. It has laid open foreign investment avenues in a variety of sectors so that foreign capital is tempted. But this is not happening, and even if some foreign capital does flow in, it is not going to create many jobs.

In short, under Modi’s bankrupt leadership and assisted by his hand-picked team of economic advisors and ministers, the country is heading for ruin, and the people are being crushed under the weight of poverty, joblessness, wage freeze and loss of jobs. Hence the ongoing struggle led by central trade unions and the 2 Sept strike need to be supported by all sections of people. It is a fight for survival and a fight to secure a better future.