There’s fresh concern that the scenario of joblessness in India is worsening. The reference is to a report released by the Centre for Sustainable Employment under Azim Premji University, which found in a study that some 50lakh jobs were lost since the time of Demonetisation in November, 2016. Without doubt, Demonetisation halted money circulation for a period and resultantly slowed down manufacturing and economic growth, even as PM Modi’s controversial step had its positive sides.

For one, huge amounts of hidden funds came into the formal economy driven by the banking sector and this is having a salutary effect on tax collections. For another, demonetisation applied partial brakes on black money circulation and new rules thereof make it more difficult to deal with cash in hidden modes. The positive effects of all these could be long-term. The roll-out of the GST upset the marketing systems even as it aimed at unifying market taxation systems across the country. This too is a work in progress, and a beginning has been made. At the same time, prima facie, demonetisation will remain as a stigma on the image of the Modi government. The present Lok Sabha polls are fought by the Opposition by highlighting this issue as well. More of emphasis on the part of the principal Opposition and its leader Rahul Gandhi, though, is now on the Rafale deal in which an alleged Modi crony, Anil Ambani, pocketed a huge commission.

It is also noted in the study that fall in jobs graph is on for many years – after Liberalization and globalization which led to the flooding of Chinese goods into the Indian market, and a resultant downturn for Indian manufacturing sector. “After remaining at around 2 to 3 per cent for the first decade, the unemployment rate steadily increased to around 5 per cent in 2015 and then just over 6 per cent in 2018,” the study noted. Mahatma Gandhi, in his wisdom, had sought to encourage the small-scale and cottage industries sector that offered jobs to the rural population, alongside agriculture.

Now, essential items like clothes and soap are mass produced by machines. At the same time, new sectors of employment have sprung up, which are largely urban-centred; like the services sector which is giving jobs to millions as technicians and sales and marketing personnel. Their numbers are not finding full reflection in studies on job generation. Overall, thus, the actual scenario of job loss might not be as worse as studies project.

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