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Indian job scene defies the Nobel model

india Updated: Oct 18, 2010 22:16 IST
Dhirendra Kumar
Dhirendra Kumar
Hindustan Times
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The 2010 Nobel prize in Economics is for research in an area which intuitively arouses the interest of a lot of people: how employees find jobs and how employers find employees, and how both could fail to do so despite the other being out there, so to speak. Yet, when one tries to correlate that study to understand the situation in India, one is struck by the complete lack of reliable data.

At the core of Diamond, Mortensen and Pissarides' work is the relationship between unemployment levels, the quantum of jobs available and how this relationship shifts under various conditions. It helps understand how jobs and the jobless search for each other and how this search becomes more (or less) efficient. It would be a useful tool not just for economists and policymakers, but also for employers.

However, at a practical level, what every employer will tell you is that the urban Indian market for 'knowledge workers' operates in a fog of misinformation. When an employer tries to find the right people to do a job, his main job is to fight his way through a wall of the chronically mis-employed who manufacture facts out of thin air.

The tragedy is that vast parts of the new education industry in India is an active accomplice in this enterprise.

For example, data may say that India produces, say, 100,000 business graduates a year.

Translated into hard facts, what this means is that every year, 100,000 more people have paid for a business education and have got the 'legal right' to claim they have a business education. Not much more.

A trend graph on what education is getting people what jobs will get an employment curve that shifts all over the place. The reason is not the kind of structural change that the Nobel laureates point out, but a tragic shift in what education means.