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Unemployment problem in India



Sarcajc Research in Journalism Advertisement & Cartoon 

15 March 2016

Just reporting

The capital of India, Delhi has population of 16.8 million. The number is more than that of Belgium. Most leading newspapers report that Sixth Economic Census for Delhi conducted by the Directorate of Economics and Statistics in collaboration with the Central Statistics Office, Government of India, for the February-June, 2013 period  has been released. To cite:

Hindu newspaper shouts- “Employment rate drops in Delhi, but entrepreneurship on the rise”. While Times of India screams-”No new jobs created in 10 years”. Both reports did not carry the name of the reporter.

Both compared, the reporting by Hindu was rather optimistic, while Time of India, more realistic. Jobless growth is reflected by Sixth Economic Census for Delhi. Mere 30,19,781 persons were employed in 8,75,308 establishments in 2013, less of 536606 persons as compared to 2005. The year 2013 shows an average of 3.45 employee per establishment compared to 4.69 employee per establishment in 2005. 

2 February 2016


The Supreme Court of India has expressed its anguish over government’s apathy over unemployment problem in India-  “It is the duty of every welfare state to generate employment. Presently millions of youth of the country are unemployed. The right to livelihood is a part of right to life…”. However, this news has not been carried by majority of newspapers in India. Times of India has carried this news on page 16, what priority is unemployment here, anyone’s guess!

24 January 2016

New Report

The recently released World Employment and Social Outlook – Trends 2016 by International  Labour Organization (ILO) emphasizes - “in sum, making decent work a central pillar of the policy strategy would not only alleviate the jobs crisis and address social gaps, but would also contribute to putting the global economy on a better and more sustainable economic growth path”. Further, the quality of job is a challenge.- “Vulnerable employment is particularly high in emerging and developing economies, hitting between half and three-quarters of the employed population in those groups of countries, respectively, with peaks in Southern Asia (74 per cent) and sub-Saharan Africa (70 per cent)”. The insecure employment coupled with rise in periphery employment is taking a toll. According to  ILO Director-General Guy Ryder-“Many working women and men are having to accept low paid jobs, both in emerging and developing economies and also, increasingly in developed countries. And despite a drop in the number of unemployed in some EU countries and the US, too many people are still jobless. We need to take urgent action to boost the number of decent work opportunities or we risk intensified social tensions,” .

However, this report has been ignored by mainstream newspapers in India. Is unemployment not a problem in India, forget underemployment or vulnerable employment? The desperation to get any employment is grave in India, this can be inferred from the fact even MBAs, engineering graduates have applied for sweeper’s job in a municipality in the state of Uttar Pradesh. For 114 sweeper post, 19,000 applied, mostly graduates and above. Hopefully, the New Education Policy will take note of the state of skills needed for getting a decent job?

27 December 2015

You still Unemployed?
Youth employment has been a longstanding priority of the United Nations. Three years back, ILO had adopted a Resolution calling for "immediate, targeted and renewed action to tackle the youth employment crisis. This November, the Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth was launched which aimed to "scale up action in support of youth employment – one of the main global challenges and priorities of our times". How far this will target developing countries, is yet to be seen.

In India, one does not often find unemployment a key economic indicator as Growth in various sectors is reviewed frequently, with stock market reacting to this data. And its reflection is present in the media too. How many correspondents are recruited by Indian media (print and electronic) for Labour beat is not a surprise.

This year, most newspapers reported that total 2.3 million people, including 24,969 postgraduates (150,000) and 24,969 graduates had applied for mere 368 posts of peons in the Uttar Pradesh government secretariat. Even 255 doctorates have applied for the job for which eligibility was just Class V-pass and ability to ride bicycle.

Rukmini had highlighted that according to census, unemployment rate still high and unemployment grew faster for illiterates than for literates. (7/11/2015. Hindu). Subhodh Verma on front page of Times of India wrote -"Worrying high number of job-seekers aged 20-29". (23/12/2015. Times of India) highlighting data from census that had taken place way back in 2011.

 However, they both failed to explore the more recent grave picture after census- Fourth annual employment & unemployment survey report (2013-14) by Labour Bureau, Government of India. It reported that the unemployment rate for females is distressing, especially in urban areas. The unemployment rate for the persons aged 18-29 years and holding a degree in graduation and above is found to be maximum with 28 per cent based on usual principal status approach at all India level. This implies that there is lack of employment opportunity for the educated people vis-à-vis less educated as well as young (15-29 years). In case of 'graduates' and 'post graduates' the unemployment rate is about 14 per cent and 12 per cent respectively based on usual principal status approach. Whereas in case of 'not literate' and 'below primary' persons, the unemployment rate is less than 2 per cent each based on survey results.

Given the stigma attached the unemployed in conservative social context, the Jahoda’s unemployment theory takes ground with reality check of nearly non-existent social security benefits for unemployment as compared to those that exist in developed countries. Any takers?

NEW RELEASE: The Global Employment Trends 2011 report by International Labour Organisation (ILO) points that the impact of the financial crisis on the global labour market has been severe. The number of unemployed around the world surged from 177.3 million in 2007 to 205.2 million in 2009, an increase of 27.9 million. But the report has chosen to ignore the high unemployment rate in India during 2009.Surely, the survey by Labour Bureau, India was readily available months before launch of this report on Global Employment Trends, then why was it ignored? The Indian experience was crucial as it showed that high unemployment is associated with high growth (compared to developed economies) too. Yeap, the growth has to inclusive but why not bell the cat, at least on paper? The report feels that a key risk in 2011 is inflation, particularly in the price of food and basic commodities, and underlines the importance of expanding social safety nets for the poorest. But it does not get to the bottom of this unprecedented price rise food which is associated with greed? Was looking into the greed game in play not in the mandate of the ILO? (25 January 2011)

Apply, Apply no reply

The report published by International Labour Organisation (ILO) – “Weak employment recovery with persistent high unemployment and decent work deficits” came up on the occasion of the G20 summit in Seoul. However the recent labour market trends in G20 countries excluded India. The unemployment rate for India (2.7%), mentioned in the table one, was the lowest among G20 countries. But ask the main street and they will narrate tales of no jobs. This lacuna has been resolve now. Yes, unemployment in India is high at 9.4%, and 40 million unemployed are starring right at growth obsession. Remember the stare is ever more pointed as they do not get the cushion of social security net, like their counterparts in the developed world.  Indian Express is the only newspaper in the capital which has carried the findings of the recent report by Labour Bureau on employment & unemployment on its front page. Why such a care-not attitude for this massive unemployment, won’t disappear if you don’t reveal the numbers? But friends of SARCAJC point that unemployment figure should be higher than 9.4 per cent for the educated and females. However the recent survey does not give an insight to the former, but yes, unemployment rate is higher for females as high as 15%. The high unemployment for females is far stretched across various states & union territories- 47% in Goa, 48% in Pondicherry, 42% in Jharkhand, 35% in Rajasthan, 31% in Bihar, 26% in West Bengal and so on. This too is under-estimation as it does not capture under- employment and disguised unemployment. The situation is worst for the educated women. Nepotism is rampant, so if you are not well-connected, forget your dream job! Did you say get a job in BPO? Friends of SARCAJC point that job at BPO is often a waste of their university degrees and aptitude but many are forced to continue due to TINA factor. But now given the state of law & order, the city is becoming unsafe for them to continue with odd hours. The young friends of SARCAJC who possess good postgraduate degrees point that the increase in retirement age of college teachers (affiliated to Central Universities) as main reason for their unemployment. The oldie teacher, no matter how bad he/she is as a teacher, no matter he/she doesn’t even possess even a  PhD degree, no matter he/she doesn’t write quality research papers -now can continue till 70 years, while able young fellows are kept out, waiting for more grey hair.  Further the assertion of talent crunch (in teaching) in India has been artificially created so that to justify the rise in retirement age. The catch is that same ‘oldie’ teachers and their colleagues will part of the selection committee if qualified aspiring candidates will (ever) be interviewed! “So, whom to protest, it is the world- the master, & we- unemployed!” Point to ponder- yes it is proved the high growth in India has not been inclusive, will this obsession with high growth weaken?

                          Newspaper updated:

25 December 2010

Unemployment reality: Yes, Rahul Gandhi was spot on when he voiced in the recent Congress Plenary, the struggle of the common man, including joblessness among educated. But who will bell the cat? Apply, apply, no reply is hard reality which is being ignored by most leading newspapers. The recent survey by labour bureau threw light on the demon of unemployment. However labour bureau has failed to reveal the extent of unemployment among the educated & youth. The main stream media seems to be obsessed with high salary for a select few. Rajay Deep reports from Batinda in Tribune that highly educated (postgraduates, law graduates and even well qualified engineers) are applying for the post of police- constable. He points to the visible desperation for employment as they are vying for the junior most slot in police set-up. An employed engineer was frank- "It is better to get recruited as a police constable than as a peon in some office as the chances to get a job of your choice in the state are dim". Suneeta Rani, an MBA, seemed impatient as she wanted to grab whatever job came her way- "...after getting a degree (MBA) in hand, I find that going by a lack of proper job opportunity, it is a mere piece of paper...". A friend of SARCAJC, who holds a prestigious postgraduate degree, but is still unemployed, points to the distortion in the labour market in India against educated females. She points to crucial role played by nepotism, which is called by word-"networking". It is not surprising that unemployment rate is so high for females. Can Santa solve this problem?

2 February 2011
Unemployment Watch: The problem of unemployment has eventually made it to the front page of leading newspapers but the news is very tragic. For the post of mere 416 vacanies in ITBP over 150,000 young aspirants turned up from 11 States and what followed was mismanagement. The irked candidates who failed to submit their application went on rampage. and while returning many boarded roof of train and met tragic accidents. The headlines of many newspapers indicate that there is  no  consensus on number of dead. The front page of Tribune informs in brief- " 7 job-seekers killed" while on page two it informs- " 10 ITBP aspirants fall off train, die". Of the 28 newspapers scanned, Mail Today and Indian Express have not given any coverage to this tragedy on their front page. However, none of the newspapers have bothered to look at the larger picture behind this tragedy- the problem of unemployment. Remember, these unemployed youths who risked their lives by sitting on roof of train did not have the cushion of unemployment beneft (like in developed counties) and must be desperate to get at least a fair chance of getting a  job. Is anyone listening?

3 Feburary 2011
Fake Job Racket:  Sanjeev K Ahuja warns  reports - "Criminals hack Maruti CEO's email and send job offers to aspirants" and warns of readers of such fraud fake emails that could dupe innocent candidates (Hindustan Times). Hang on, what about fake job advertisements in classified section of leading newspapers? Here these newspapers point at the disclaimer and overlook the need for self regulation for public cause. Surely, newspapers are not naive that government & leading corporates dont advertise jobs in the classified section with phone number as the only contact. But the greed of profit over-rides social good.  Even today, one leading newspapers in Hindi is carrying an fake advertisment that is promising jobs in Maruti along with other leading companies in India! And many more ads have appeard for governmental jobs. Point to ponder- who will bell the cat?

ilo imf oslo conference

Event of the Month:

Challenges of Growth, Employment and Social Cohesion

Two years since the global meltdown, came an unexpected event - IMF joining the ILO in discussing ‘Challenges of Growth, Employment and Social Cohesion” in Oslo this month. The conference was hosted by the Norwegian Government, whose track record in inclusive growth is far ahead of excellence. Prof. Geir Lundestad, Executive Director & Secretary of the Norwegian Nobel Committee told SARCAJC that this IMF/ILO collaboration was promising- “..About time key institutions meet and cooperate. And the IMF after some years of criticism and doubt seem, to have almost recreated itself...”.  The ILO has already won the nobel prize, but still the road for IMF is far too long as it did not make any concrete monetary commitment for creation of employment across the world. However, the very first question that tends to emerge is- why didn’t these two institutions warn the world much before the financial crisis?

In an exclusive interview to SARCAJC, Dr. Philippe Egger, Director Adjoint  Bureau of Director General  of the ILO revealed that indeed ILO had warned way back in 2004.  Take a clue- “ILO officially saying this globalisation is politically, socially and economically unsustainable – 2004. 2008- Lehman Brothers.... We were among the voices saying careful this is going the wrong way..GDP numbers, they add value added of which is included what happens in stock market and financial markets, this is not wealth that improves the situation of the people. All the people of India and all the people in the world do not benefit from fact that a few billionaires add a few billions to their already considerable wealth”.

But still, in India, stock market and growth is on an upswing, while the main street is struggling with ever rising inflation (highest among G-20 countries) and rising Gini Coefficient.  According to UNCTAD‘s latest Report 2010, while India’s growth rate has been registering impressive numbers, problems related to employment still persist. According to SARCAJC's research desk, the most serious fundamental problem relates to non-availability of latest data (latest available is for 2004-05) on unemployment in the country, not to forget under-employment. Remember, majority of the workforce In India is in the unorganised sector with no social security net (compared the the developed world),  disconnect is not surprising.

DNA’s recent editorial has raised a pertinent question-“how important is the rise and fall of the Sensex for the common man?”.  But what took so long for this newspaper to raise this question? Nevertheless, it answers- “While the rise in the Sensex is all the good and surely brings cheers to the corporate sector and millions of investors, it does no necessarily reflect a rise in the overall well being of the masses. It does not reflect the hardship being caused to both urban and rural poor as a result of runaway inflation. What is worse it that the rise in prices is the steepest in the case of food products. ..Despite the ballooning of the Sensex, therefore, the economically backward segments of society are facing ever greater hardship than ever before. With prices of ever basic essentials like pulses and vegetables virtually out of their reach, it becomes difficult to raise a toast to the ascent of the markets...” (27/9/10). Is food inflation a result of continuation of stimulus package leading to excess of money supply or other domestic polices? Remember, on the whole India is not a net importer of food & hence is not adversely affected by internationally prevailing high food prices as other countries. However, high food inflation in India & its effect on the common man did not figure in the ILO/IMF conference.

There seems to be positive vibes in the ILO reports for the jobs created under MNREGA. But not a word about the flip-side. A Planning Commission evaluation of the MNREGA has questioned the effectiveness of the projects implemented under the Act in boosting productivity and creating assets. The Commission highlighted fake muster rolls and bills generated, so called elite groups within workers capturing most of the job cards, delayed payments. One official pointed out to Mint that there was corruption implementation of the programme and no real asset was being created. The workers were moving from their main activity of agriculture, and are “digging pits in the name of ponds under NREGA...water from these pits evaporate very fast” (Mint. 15/1/10). UNCTD has recently pointed –“Developing countries not only need to create enough employment in qualitative terms; they also need to improve the quality of jobs...(Trade & Development Report 2010).  But here there is no skill upgradation or training for the large army of poor working as labours under MNREGA- which from any angle is not ‘Quality’ employment. Moreover, the wages are not linked with retail rate of Inflation. Yes, food prices have hit the roof, despite bumper crop in India. Now, the Apex court has directed the government to distribute foodgrains free to the poor instead of letting it rot in the open.  In addition, the differential between wholesale & retail price defies all logic. A vegetable selling at around 200 percent of wholesale price in the same city- is this not greed uncontrolled? Rising inequalities seem to have become an accepted norm. Will the Millennium Development Goals be achieved by 2015?

The World Employment Report for 2010 has been released. Raymond Torres, Director of the International Institute and lead author of the report, said two main reasons explain the bleaker outlook facing many countries in the global economy: “The first is that fiscal stimulus measures that were critical in averting a deeper crisis and helped jump-start the economy are now being withdrawn in countries where recovery, if any, is still too weak,” he said. “The second, and more fundamental factor is that the root causes of the crisis have not been properly tackled”. The ILO study says that, if current policies persist, a recovery in employment to pre-crisis levels will be delayed until 2015 in advanced economies, instead of 2013 as it projected one year ago.

Sounds somewhat familiar? While addressing the G-20 Summit, Indian Prime Minister had warned long back that global recovery is ‘still fragile’ due to slack in demand in the developed countries; primacy should be given at this junction to consolidating the recovery. And simultaneous withdrawal of fiscal stimuli by many countries could provoke a double dip recession.  The conclusion of thematic paper on the Millennium Development Goals summed it up well- “In addition to being a moral obligation globally contracted, achieving the Millennium Development Goals is the most effective way to lasting peace, security and social justice”. But will this be another paper that is meant to be a part of the research decoration with little follow-up? Perhaps, this is the biggest challenge any serious researcher faces- what happens next?

On the lighter side, One ticket to ‘Money never sleep’, please! Is it just a movie ticket of yet another Hollywood entertainment or an addition to the Greed club? Welcome to the world which is seen trying to control Greed, never mind if two years after the upheaval.  Take clue from some views about greed & the long wait for the long answer!

Nobel & unemployment

The  Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science -2010 has been  awarded to three Economists- Peter A. Diamond,Dale T. Mortensen and Christopher A. Pissarides. According to the citation from the prize committee- “The Laureates’ models help us understand the ways in which unemployment, job vacancies, and wages are affected by regulation and economic policy”. According to Juan Somavia, Director-General of International Labour Organization (ILO) “The work being honoured today could not be more topical. It addresses a crucial concern of governments and people around the world: how to translate economic growth into desperately needed jobs and decent work”.

The press release (from the official website of Nobel Prize) starts with questions you too wanted to ask- “Why are so many people unemployed at the same time that there are a large number of job openings? How can economic policy affect unemployment?”. Then, it goes on to explain-“This year's Laureates have developed a theory which can be used to answer these questions. This theory is also applicable to markets other than the labour market”. Now given the fact unemployment has suddenly become an area of priority for the policy makes even in the developed world, one conclusion which is certainly of importance is that more generous unemployment benefits give rise to higher unemployment and longer search times. During a telephonic  interview at the Nobel news conference in Sweden, Professor Pissarides suggested-: “What we should really be doing is make sure the unemployed do not stay unemployed for too long, to try to give them direct work experience,” so that they “don’t lose their attachment to the labour force.”  But what kind of work experience? Watch views on Unemployment in Sweden & problems of people working in the cultural sector (freelance cartoonist/journalist). Will another prize winning model follow from here?