NITI Aayog Jumps To Defend Modi’s Jobs Record As Debate Rages

Posted February 01, 2019

Two non-official members of the National Statistical Commission (NSC), including the acting chairman of the apex statistical body P.C. Mohanan, resigned on Tuesday, citing, as one of the reasons, the government's failure to release the annual Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) report that they had vetted in December.

Critics say PM Modi's push for raising the share of domestic manufacturing from 17 percent of GDP to about 25 percent has not taken off over the last four years. The economy is creating enough jobs for the new entrants but people are exiting low-productivity agricultural jobs, he said, citing examples of Ola and Uber Technologies drivers without clarifying an overlap among the drivers who have registered for both the ride-hailing services.

The news report further said that unemployment was higher in urban areas (7.8 per cent) as compared to 5.3 per cent in rural areas of the country.

The fresh controversy, a day before the Budget, and in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections has given the Congress an opportunity to target the government.

The labour force participation rate, the proportion of the population that is working or seeking jobs, declined to 36.9 percent in 2017-2018 from 39.5 percent in 2011-2012, according to the report.

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Reacting to the report, Gandhi lashed out at Modi and said, "The Fuhrer promised us 2 crore jobs a year".

The government has questioned the report, saying it was "not verified". (The) the government did not release the data (on jobs) as it is still being processed.

Himanshu, an associate professor at New Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University who specialises in development economics, said that the jobs crisis was everywhere to see. "No, never", Pronab Sen, former chief statistician and ex-chairman of the National Statistical Commission, told TOI.

On Thursday, soon after the damaging report on job creation under the Modi government appeared - the first survey since demonetisation was accounced in Novermner 2016 - the government fielded Niti Aayog top officials to debunk it as a "draft not yet finalised" and to counter the Opposition's attacks.

"You can not be growing at 7.2% and saying that there are no jobs being created in the economy", he said.

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The data is significant because this was the first comprehensive assessment of India's employment situation conducted after Modi's decision in November 2016 to withdraw most of the country's banknotes from circulation overnight, the report said. NITI Aayog should not have any role in the collection or publication of NSSO reports.

After the chaotic launch of Goods and Services Tax (GST) in July 2017, hundreds of thousands have lost jobs in small businesses.

This has put pressure on Modi as he seeks to retain power in a general election due by May. "But it's comparable with earlier employment surveys by NSSO", he said.

The NSSO job report was previously planned to be released in December 2018.

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