How India goes to work
The people who benefited most from India’s economic success were those on top of the job pyramid. At the bottom, jobs turned informal, wages fell, insecurity grew. Chitrangada Choudhury reports.india Updated: May 13, 2009 01:14 IST
In Delhi, Raj Singh (name changed on request) sells insurance policies and doubles up as a night watchman to earn enough to send his two children to an English medium school.
While the Galpellys are battling rising prices with reduced incomes, Singh has to juggle two jobs to meet his family's needs.
And this is how India’s economic success story has bypassed its unorganised sector — from agriculture to micro industries to self-employment — covering 85 per cent of the total workforce.
The Commission analysed job statistics to compare two decades — 1983-94 and 1994-2005. Its findings:
Between 1993-94, employment grew at 2.03% annually. From 1994-2005, the rate was 1.85%
Growth rate of wages, including casual work—the bottom layer of workers— declined during 1994-2005 compared to the previous decade net
Growth of employment from 1999-2000 to 2004-05 has been largely informal, increasing the vulnerability of workers from this sector
The public sector added 2.87 million jobs between 1983 and 1993 but shed 1.46 million between 1993 and 2006; the private sector added 30,000 formal jobs during 1983 and 1993 and another 92,000 during 1993 and 2006
For, they were mostly contracting and outsourcing jobs, showing a marked decline in the share of the manufacturing sector in job generation. The gamut of economic changes since the early 1990s, and impressive growth rates in recent years, have not translated into a better deal for most of the workers in this sector.
The report, The Challenge of Employment… said impressive salary jumps were limited to “a top, but thin layer” of managerial and supervisory jobs in the corporate segment of the manufacturing and service sectors.
Commission chairman Arjun Sengupta said, “We have given our findings, and recommendations on how to create a level playing field to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. We have to see who forms the new government, and how strongly these issues get addressed.”
|Radha Galpelly: Prices are constantly rising but her monthly salary has remained stuck at Rs 1,200 since 1998.|
So, why has the lot of India’s working poor not improved despite the shining growth story since the early 1990s?
Sengupta said, “Reforms have certainly led to impressive growth, but not improved the quality of lives or employment. Trickle down is not working. State policies need to pay special attention to people in agriculture and small industries...”
The report said the informal segment still faced constraints like lack of access to credit, technology, marketing, skill development and also incentives. And public policies are partial to the formal private sector through Special Economic Zones, cheaper credit, export incentives and tax breaks.