Inadequate data on jobs a policy hurdle: Joshi panel
Creation of jobs, or the lack of a sufficient number of them, has moved to the centre stage of political discourse ahead of the upcoming general elections.Updated: Jan 17, 2019 23:44 IST
The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government’s National Career Portal — the revamped employment exchange — managed to find 707,000 jobs in 2016-17, or jobs for just 1.8% of the 39.1 million people registered with it, Parliament’s Estimates Committee has observed, HT learns.
The panel led by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) veteran Murli Manohar Joshi is expected to submit its report on measuring growth, employment and income in the upcoming budget session of Parliament even as at least three BJP MPs in the committee have rejected the report and submitted dissent notes.
The committee, HT learns, has criticised the labour ministry and the ministry of statistics and programme implementation (Mospi) for the lack of adequate and real-time data to monitor unemployment. It is apparently upset that the most recent period for which accurate employment data is available seems to be 2011-12, that there is very little data from the private and unorganised sectors, and on skilled and unskilled jobs.
Creation of jobs, or the lack of a sufficient number of them, has moved to the centre stage of political discourse ahead of the upcoming general elections.The Congress and other Opposition parties have accused the Narendra Modi government of failing to live up to its 2014 promise of creating millions of jobs to absorb new entrants into the workforce and power economic growth.
To be sure, analysts and experts have for long pointed to gaps in data collection when it comes to jobs. This has affected the government’s ability to make targeted policies to address unemployment, which is one of the key issues going into the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
The labour ministry informed the panel about the Quarterly Employment Survey, a more updated and timely system, being conducted since April 2016 by the labour bureau to measure relative changes in the employment situation over successive quarters covering eight major non-farm sectors.
But the panel has observed that this survey does not take into account India’s vast unorganised sector which, according to it, accounts for 98% of jobs. The panel, HT learns, is also concerned that the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) does not plan to cover either the informal sector or collect data on jobs across sectors.
Strongly objecting to such observations, one of the three BJP MPs is believed to have dissented and said in a dissent note that government work, such as construction of 110 million toilets in villages and cities, delivery of 120 million gas connections to people, and construction work on 26 All India Institutes of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in different parts of the country over the last five years has generated tremendous employment.
“The report is just not based on statistics and the numbers are not convincing. Unless they compare the numbers with growth over the past 10 years, there is nothing that can be claimed from this report,” this person said over phone, asking not to be identified.
The Joshi panel, after analysing the data on Worker Participation Ratio (WPR), has noted, HT learns, that while participation rates in the workforce had increased from 501 to 546 in the urban male and from 134 to 147 in the urban female category, the rural participation rate has decreased from 545 to 543 (rural male) and from 318 to 248 (rural female) between 1972-73 and 2011-12.
The number of registered factories, however, increased from 240,238 during 2006 to 348,429 during 2015. The panel has also observed that while the person-days generated in the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) has slightly increased to 23,576.46 during 2016-17 as compared to 23,047.67 in 2012-13, the jobs generated under the PM’s Employment Guarantee Programme (khadi and village industries) has declined from 428,221 to 401,840 during the same period.
The panel, HT learns, has, however, questioned the reliability of data in all these instances and emphasised that real-time data should be measured sector-wise for the facilitation of proper planning and employment generation.