“In a society with wide inequalities, creating productive, regular jobs are perhaps the most urgent priority. The issue is not just the number of jobs but also the type of jobs. A transition into the middle class calls for the creation of salaried jobs,”…this is what the World Bank states in its “Systematic Country Diagnostic (SCD) for India” 2018. And it adds that salaried jobs are a “rare privilege” to only 20 per cent of the total working population. (I may mention here that China and South Africa’s equivalent numbers are around 82 per cent whilst Brazil and Malaysia have around 70 per cent).
But why should salaried jobs be so important to India? Actually India classifies as a lower-middle-income country. And to transcend to an upper-middle income country are those with 15-35 per cent per capita incomes of that in the US. The Bank sees increase in regular salaried jobs as opportunities for reducing inequality of income distribution in India as well as providing women (nearly 50 per cent of our population) with gainful employment – pushing up the per capita income bars – the bars which have been a terror to international financial analysts! (Whereas we are the 6th largest economy in the world, our per capita GDP stands at 142 out of 193 countries studied by the IMF).
So it’s serious, and I think I couldn’t agree more with TS Eliot’s lines from his last quartet, ‘The Gidding’ and he says…. “………..For last year’s words belong to last year’s language, and next year’s words await another voice”.
My takes: Is there a serious issue (the favourites in the social media caricatures of providing jobs – a crore a year!!)? – most often whisked away by expressions such as “PF records show more registration numbers”, or that “we gave Mudra Loans of 45,000 rupees each in 2 years” and so on!
Yes; – not just jobs – they have to be quality jobs, productive jobs, ILO defined jobs!
Firstly and foremost in my view, we should have transparent numbers of regular, salaried employments published as meticulously as the IIP numbers or the inflation numbers. Why should this be difficult – given that we talk of improved digitalisation, adhaar registrations etc why can’t we publish as a routine, reliable numbers of employment each quarter? If we can’t measure a problem – we can’t solve it either!
Secondly we have to take a note of changes that have come about in our work processes in the last 2 decades – that’s important because when we talk of “sanctioned strength” in India we are talking actually of truths as they existed 10 years ago, often more. Just imagine – all our demographic data are based on a census which was done 7 years back! In the last 2 decades there have been extensive automations and process re-engineering in support fields of Government working, for example, in the Railways – the booking staff, or, say the Tax department clerical staff, the Foreign Affairs departments passport staff – I think there is an enormous need for “Industrial Engineering” to figure out what the numbers are that we now need as “gainful and productive” jobs.
Thirdly the welfare schemes pursued by the Government. For example, the Swachh Bharat Yojana or the Namami Gange or say the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana or the Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana and so on! I know for sure Garbage Management, a core essentiality in all our cities, has a huge potential for creation of regular salaried jobs – why are we not able to make a significant headway there? Should I infer then that the headwinds from the highways (where the government claims significant improvements) are all offset by the tailwinds from a failed demonetisation exercise and an amateurish GST start-up fiasco?
(According to the RBI data, the amount of cash in circulation in June 2018 has actually doubled post-demonetisation!)
Fourthly the sanctioned vacancies – already budgeted but lying vacant for the last 4 years – this list will run into lakhs – in the Centre and States. Why don’t we appoint specialists to go into the necessities of those jobs – and if they still yield values to citizens why do we not go ahead. According to the Government’s own data, there are 2.4 lakh teachers positions vacant, there are 80,000 paramedics positions vacant, there are 78,000 paramilitary jobs vacant, there are 48,000 junior doctors’ positions vacant – wherever I have gone – I have heard…”…Sir we agree, but we have no man power for this…”.
The other place to look into – is the justice delivery system. There are 6,000 junior judicial positions vacant, in lower courts and the High Courts – vacancies if addressed could surely speed up justice deliveries. Finally, the law and order assurance mechanism. Instead of police personnel riding Royal Enfields on our beaches – why can’t we have more smaller police outposts with enthusiastic youngsters helping citizens or improve an investigative machinery that takes 5 years to file a charge sheet?
The next area with great potential is tourism. Last year, whole of India received 8 million tourists against Singapore’s 16! These are jobs which endure the oncoming AI regime as well – and these have spiralling benefits – in other sectors like transport and logistics.
For all of this – there has to be a plan – from conception to funding, to implementation, to controls and finally to measuring and holding gains.
A special point here – and that is “Job Happiness”. We fare miserably in the UN’s “World Happiness Index” where we stand 133 out of 156 countries’ citizens’ happiness. Why I say this is – the job holder has to feel happy – doing the job – he should be proud of his job – he should understand he got the job on his merits!
Lastly – emphasis on agenda of reskilling, retraining, empowerment of the job holder and of course a compatible education system.
And in conclusion: More “Regular Salaried Jobs”! This could have been the views of the World Bank – but the necessity is ours – as they stand today – and it grows each day! Eliot’s …”..next year’s language in next year’s voice!”