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BJP should not scrap MNREGA if it comes to power post 2014 Lok Sabha polls
"Between 2000 and 2012, jobs grew by a mere 2% per year"- as per a TOI report. The period covers both NDA (2000-2005) and UPA (2005-12012) rule. The growth of the India's GDP was between 7% and 5%. It will thus be clear that much of our GDP growth was notional and failed to create matching growth in employment.

MNREGA was a Major Contributor to Job Growth

The breakdown of the job growth during this period is manufacturing 4%; construction 17%, trade and hotels 4%; transport, storage and communication 6% and other services 4%. However, since the agriculture sector which employs 48% of the work force had a negative growth of 0.001%, the overall growth was only 2.2%.

The figures are based on National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO) report No. 458 of 1990/91 and No 554 of 2011/12.  NSSO comes under the Ministry of Statistics, Government of India. Most of the Job growth has been in retail trade, construction industry and personal services. Most of these jobs are temporary and low paid.

Another interesting aspect to be noted is that out of the growth of 34 million jobs in the construction sector, 27.4 million jobs were created in construction in the rural areas. UPA’s MNREGA accounts for most of this boom. Road building activity under Pradhan Mantri Grameen Sadak Yojna and NHAI also contributed.

Reasons for non-creation of jobs

Liberalization of Imports

The first and foremost reason for the failure to create jobs in the manufacturing sector is liberalization of imports. This has been a major failing of the UPA government. Not only have we opened our markets to cheap, unreliable, low tech products from China and other ASEAN and BRICK, we have allowed 100% foreign direct investment (FDI) in single brand retailing.

What is ignored by our government is that these retailers like Nike or Adidas sell imported products manufactured in third world countries. This import of low tech consumer goods is destroying jobs in India and making many Indian companies sick. The UPA government is hell bent on opening multi-brand retail to foreign investors and allow them to import 70% of what they sell. They refuse to acknowledge that this will lead to loss of manufacturing jobs in India, increasing trade deficit and putting pressure on our current account deficit leading to devaluation of the rupee.

Government not filling Vacancies

The railway employees are planning to go on strike demanding filling of thousands of critical vacancies of locomotive drivers and other essential staff. Police departments of states have shortages of tens of thousands of policemen. The Airport Authority of India has been downgraded for not filling up critical deficiencies in its safety staff. The defence forces have crippling shortages of young officers.

There are acute shortages of teachers, paramedical staff and other employess in almost every government department. Most of these vacancies are not filled up to keep the government expenses down or due to apathy. Recruitment processes are often not transparent and unfair and are contested in courts. Jobs are often sold.

Government not expanding PSUs

Private sector is profit oriented and therefore reluctant to invest in manufacturing and service industries like healthcare and education in backward and politically unstable areas of the North East and backward areas of UP, Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa and Chhattisgarh etc. Is it not a shame that even after 67 years of independence, there isn’t one sugar mill in North East?

Government must expand the public sector and have it compete with the private sector to keep prices in check. To give you an example of the effect of Public Sector / Private Sector competition Reliance established a chain of petroleum pumps and tried to sell petroleum products at a rate higher than that of public sector oil companies. However, the public response was poor and the pumps were closed.

Employment Situation

The employment situation in India does not receive much attention in the media and even less from our political leaders. Indian Labour Bureau of Government of India produced its unemployment statistics in 2010 and claimed unemployment rate to be 9.4%. It estimates that the population of the country is 1182 million with 63.5% in the working age of 15 – 59 years.

It estimated that the ratio of those seeking work to population ratio is much lower. The study estimated 238 million households to be in the country, of which 172 million are rural and 66 million are urban. Out of the total population of the States/UTs covered, 872 million persons (73.8 per cent) live in rural areas and 310 million persons (26.2 per cent) live in urban areas. The number of unemployed persons is estimated to be 40 million or 400 lakhs.

However, Darshana Sawant, HR manager with a leading IT company estimates that there are over 600 lakhs of educated unemployed in the country. Whatever be the statistics, the real pain of being unemployed is only known to those who are looking for work. The desperation among the youth to find a job can be seen from the fact over 100,000 young men applied for 416 vacancies of barbers, cooks etc in Indo- Tibetan border police with a starting salary of Rs 5000.

In India and perhaps the world, democracy does not mean government of the people, by the people, for the people but of the privileged, by the privileged and for the privileged. Politicians of the main stream political parties except for the Congress have done little for the under privileged population in terms of direct employment generation.

With Congress unable to reign in corruption and nominating corrupt leaders to stand elections, there are huge chances of BJP coming into power post 2014 Lok Sabha elections. I only hope and pray that if BJP comes to power, it does not scrap MNREGA. Because if MNREGA is scrapped, it will result  in the addition of about 270 lakh rural population to an already existing crowd of 400 to 600 lakhs unemployed in India.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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