Data on Unemployment: The Truth That Can’t Be Hidden

April 18, 2019

Here is yet another report that exposes BJP government’s abysmal failure in keeping its grandiose promises on employment. According to the report released  two days ago by Centre for Sustainable Employment (CSE), 5 million Indian men lost their jobs since 2016. This 5 million is a net loss of jobs only among men and does not include the job loss among Indian women. Due to data constraints, the report could not estimate the loss of jobs among women in this period. But, obviously in a scenario where men are losing jobs, the trend is not going to be different for women and the combined jobs loss would actually be much higher than 5 million. According to this report the unemployment is as high as 13% among educated youth. What more, as much as 34% of educated women in the labour force are unemployed.

The CSE report does not say anything new. There have been multiple reports over the years - which the BJP government has valiantly tried to suppress – that have been hammering home the same point.

There was that Labour Bureau’s Annual Employment Unemployment Report of 2016-17, which BJP government refused to publish, when the report found high levels of unemployment after demonetisation. This report has not seen the light of the day even after 2 years. Then, there were the NSSO’s surveys on employment and unemployment, which have been taking place every 5 years since 1972. The BJP government refused to conduct the latest quinquennial survey of 2016-17, probably scared of the unemployment figure that the survey might come up with.

Let us not forget the controversy over NSSO’s latest Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) for the year 2017-18. This survey has shown present unemployment levels in India to be the highest of last 45 years. This report too did not see the daylight, prompting two of the statisticians to resign in protest from the National Statistical Commission (NSC).

None of these reports were prepared by the BJP’s opposition, but by government’s own statistical agencies which have followed methodologies tried and tested over decades.
What is the gist of all these reports? – that the Modi led BJP government not only did not create any new jobs, but destroyed existing livelihoods of millions of Indians.

This destruction of jobs is again no conspiracy by a certain foreign country which Mr. Modi & co like to invoke in their election speeches nor the creation of BJP’s opposition. The credit for the massive unemployment and job losses solely goes to Mr. Modi and the team around him. His handcrafted policy of demonetisation - ostensibly to bring back money in to the system, not a penny of which has been caught – has, apart from queuing up the entire nation in front of banks and ATMs, destroyed thousands of small businesses and unemployed millions of workers. Demonetisation was soon followed by GST that dealt another blow to the small businesses, which have not yet recovered from the battering given by demonetisation. The CSE report also shows that this is the time when the job losses have actually started.

After demonetisation and GST there was still room for course correction by the government – to provide support to the small enterprises and their workers and to improve employment opportunities. But things only went downhill as the BJP government chose to do nothing constructive. Instead, in the name of NPAs, the credit to small and micro enterprises which employed millions of workers, was cut down, dealing yet another crippling blow to the sector.

The big wigs like Ambanis and Adanis who owe lakhs of crores of rupees in unpaid loans to the banks have been getting the royal treatment from Modi government. When Anil Ambani does not pay back his loans to public sector banks, Mr. Modi steps in to give him a Rafael deal. But, small businesses are forced to pay for the sins of these big corporates. Citing bad loans of the big guys, banks have cut down credit to the small guys.

In the four years before Modi came to power, bank credit to small and micro enterprises grew by 65%. After Modi came in to power, credit to this sector actually fell (-2%). This meant that the small and micro enterprises were getting less credit at the end of Modi’s term than what they were getting when he came to power. This is another big blow to the already ailing sector.

Is it any wonder then that there has been such a huge job loss in the economy, by the end of Modi’s term?

No one needs to be reminded of the grandiose promises made by Narendra Modi and his fellow party men in the run up to the last parliament elections – foremost among these promises being the creation of 1 crore new jobs every year. After 5 years of BJP rule, forget new jobs, millions of Indians are hoping that they at least get their old jobs back.

Hopefully, they will get their jobs back once Mr. Modi’s sarkar is made redundant.