India has seen jobless growth, says top adviser
India may have grown at over eight percent, but a top adviser has expressed concern over the "stagnant employment situation", saying the country with 40 million unemployed people witnessed "jobless growth" during the Eleventh Five Year Plan period from 2007-08 to 2011-12.
"The only explanation for an almost stagnant employment situation is simply that not enough jobs are available in the economy, even with an eight percent plus growth rate," National Advisory Council member N.C. Saxena said in an interview.
"The Eleventh Five Year Plan witnessed jobless growth," he said.
Saxena, a retired bureaucrat, said the government's argument that more young people are now attending educational institutions fails to explain "why there are still 40 million unemployed people in the country (according to the Current Daily Status figures of National Sample Survey Organisation 66th round), who should have got the jobs if the economy was creating them."
He has flagged the issue for consideration of NAC chairperson Sonia Gandhi, who also heads the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance.
Pointing out a flaw in policy implementation, Saxena said "the government could create only one million jobs against a target of 50 million jobs during the Eleventh Plan period and has now set a near impossible target of creating 60 million jobs during the Twelfth Five Year Plan (2012-13 to 2016-17).
According to Saxena, a former member secretary with the Planning Commission, the number of actual workers during 2007-08 to 2011-12, when the Indian economy was growing rapidly, increased just by a million.
In contrast, the number of people in the age group 15-59 years increased by about 50 million during the period.
He pointed to a lacuna in the demographic dividend theory of the government - that the pool of people in the working age group can be used productively in an economy, saying the number of people in the labour force actually declined from 470.1 million in 2004-05 to 469.9 million people in 2009-10.
"This means the Plans completely failed as there has not been any significant increase in employment opportunities. Against this, the number of non-workers in the age group 15-59 years soared," said Saxena.
Suggesting a relook at policy implementation, Saxena further said "one has to examine whether macro policies in India have been pro-employment and pro-poor in the post reform period".
Offering a solution, Saxena expressed hope that "the National Council for Skill Development under the prime minister makes skill development among youth a national priority."
Besides the creation of new jobs, he said, the government should also aim at improving the quality of employment in the unorganised sector in which nearly 92 percent of the work force is engaged.