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Homechevron_rightOpinionchevron_rightEditorialchevron_rightFor a better labour...

For a better labour sector


One thing that Narendra Modi had mentioned in special, while seeking mandate for a second term was that a continuity of government was needed to fulfil several welfare schemes started or promised during the first term.   As such, the big mandate the electorate has given him now is also a huge responsibility on him.    

But some of the recent reports would rather serve to dampen the confidence given by the electoral victory.  One of them is the recession in employment sector.   Even at the time of going to the polls, the Ministry of Labur &Employment had possessed some unpleasant statistics about that.   But the government hushed it up till the polls.   Those figures,  which the media uncovered,  now turn out to be true.  Current level of unemployment  is at the higest level for the past 45 years.  A 6.1 percent of the population do not have work.  Each year,  75 lakh to a crore of young people are entering the job market.

The Modi government,  which had promised to create two crore job opportunities every year,  fell far short of fulfilling that promise.   Not only that,  even the existing job opportunities were wiped off through  measures like the note-ban.  It is probably out of recognition of this,  that two cabinet committees have been appointed in this regard,   with the task of recommending solutions for economic recession and unemployment.   What is needed now is, more than  claims about the country's growth and economic power,  comprehensive  and realistic solutions.   Recently, former chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramaniam exposed the figures of    "Acche din":  the government's claim that the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth during 2011-16 was 6.9 per cent was not correct,  and that it was actually 2.5 % less than that.   At the same time,  the figures about the employment sector do not lend themselves to exaggerated claims.   For the Labour ministry itself has admitted that unemployment in urban areas is 7.3 per cent and in rural areas 5.3 per cent.

Another report states that even the state of the employed are not encouraging.   Working conditions and exploitation have worsened.   The report is based on the survey (Periodic Labour Force Survey) conduted in one lakh families by National Statistical Office (NSO) during the period Jul 2017-June 2018.  The survey shows 52 per cent of the labourers are engaed in small jobs with little job security.  Most do not earn even half of the minimum wages prescribed.  Of those employed in the organized sector,  71 per cent do not have any employment contract.  And 54 per cent are not entitled to any paid leave.  80 per cent are forced to work overtime.  Overall,  the labour scene is a large world where existing rules or Supreme Court directives have no sway.

The problem is compounded by the fact that the central government keeps amending even existing rules in line with the wishes of the corporate interests.  Employee-friendly rules in labour sector are being continuously revisited in order to attract more investment.   But that is found to have only added to exploitation rather than having proportionately enhanced investment or job availability.   For an investment-friendly environment, what is needed is conflict-free social circumstances.  When that is achieved,  trade and industrial enterprises grow,  which in turn will create jobs and consequently strengthen the purchasing power of the people.  Any attempt at solutions in economic-labour sector has to begin with the realization that the most essential need for the betterment of the economy is peaceful social atmosphere.

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