Where are the Jobs, Mr. Jaitley?
Dear Mr. Jaitley,
How does it feel to preside over a government-created economic crisis?
1.6 crore Indians became jobless in the first year and a half of you becoming Finance Minister, according to Labour Bureau Data.
15 lakh jobs were lost as a direct result of your decision to demonetise, say CMIE surveys. Your undeclared financial emergency was a surgical attack against the poor.
It is little wonder that your government has stopped conducting surveys on employment. Why you have no numbers on consumption. Why NITI Aayog doesn’t see tracking poverty as its job. Your ostrich doctrine of economics postulates that if you don’t measure a problem, it doesn’t exist, right? Wrong.
Perhaps our jobs were lost when manufacturing hit a 9 year low. When exports declined for more than 20 months. When increasing interest rates failed to increase investment!
Perhaps our jobs were lost because there is no growth in construction, which accounts for two-thirds of the non-agricultural economy.
Perhaps our jobs in agriculture were lost due to an act of god, two years of back-to-back drought. Followed by your out-of-touch government refusing to waive loans because it had already forgiven its friends NPAs, rendering farmers ineligible to access financial assistance. Or when you decided to drastically decrease public investment in agriculture.
Perhaps our jobs were lost because demonetisation and GST decimated the informal sector, forcing many young men to return to their villages and wrest work back from women, decreasing women’s participation in the labour force.
And now you believe that implementing a country-wide minimum wage will fix the problem. If only you understood it will lead to more jobs being lost due to increasing the cost of doing business. If only you knew it comes at the cost of increasing regional inequality because job opportunities will move from poor states with low wages to more affluent states with the right skills and thriving markets.
If only you didn’t quit your day job.
India’s 54.4 crore unemployed.