Modi govt didn't address jobs crisis in the first term. India's progress depends on it now -Sabina Dewan
India needs a National Employment Strategy with ministries made to submit to PMO annual action plans on how they will realise the goals.
India’s labour market is ailing, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first term bore the brunt of the debate on the nation’s employment crisis. In the last five years, all efforts to generate a debate on how best to address the crisis have ended up in controversy — be it over the scale of job creation, the data on unemployment, or about the sources and indicators that accurately reflect the state of the job market (is it unemployment or productivity and wages?). The Modi government’s second term has an opportunity to acknowledge what ails the labour market, and take measures to address the crisis.
Only one in two Indians of working age – 15 years and above – participate in the labour force. Only about one in four women (23.3 per cent) of working age enter the labour market. Female labour force participation has been declining since 2004. Low labour force participation is a loss of precious productive potential, as is unemployment.
While unemployment is a matter of concern, arguably more pressing in terms of scale is the issue of underemployment. Most people in India cannot afford to be unemployed.
Another challenge is that Indian youth, particularly those from vulnerable backgrounds, lack opportunities, and studies have shown that the inequality of opportunity in one’s younger years manifests in an inequality of outcomes in adulthood.
Moreover, while enrolment rates have increased, learning outcomes remain weak, especially for youth from vulnerable backgrounds. Skills training, especially short-term programmes, cannot compensate for years of poor-quality education.
If these challenges go unaddressed, the nation will squander its demographic advantage in approximately two decades from now.
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