Cognizant of the flak the Narendra Modi government has been receiving because of sluggish employment generation and against the backdrop of the controversy surrounding jobs data, Finance Minister Piyush Goyal made it a point that he could somehow talk about job creation. Even if the context had little to do with the subject.
For instance, when discussing banking reforms, he said, “A number of measures have been implemented to ensure clean banking. Through a transparent and accountable process, we recognized these NPAs [non-performing assets]. The Insolvency & Bankruptcy Code has institutionalized a resolution-friendly mechanism, which is helping in the recovery of non-performing loans while preserving the underlying businesses and jobs.”
Similarly, while discussing civil aviation, he mentioned employment generation. “Because of Udaan Scheme, today an ordinary citizen is also traveling by air. The number of operational airports has crossed 100 with the commissioning of the Pakyong airport in Sikkim. Domestic passenger traffic has doubled during the last five years leading to a large number of jobs being created also,” he said.
Indian Railways has experienced the safest year in its history, Goyal, who also has the Railways portfolio, said. “All unmanned level crossings on broad gauge network have been eliminated. Introduction of the first indigenously developed and manufactured semi-high-speed Vande Bharat Express will give the Indian passengers world-class experience with speed, service, and safety. This major leap in wholly developed technology by our engineers will give an impetus to the Make in India programme and create jobs.”
The Finance Minister also saw jobs in Digital India, solar energy, and even cinema.
It is true that all the above-mentioned areas generate employment. In fact, there is no human activity without somebody getting employed. The point, however, is how many people are getting employed. On that count, the government’s record has been rather unimpressive. A recent official report, though the government insists it’s a draft, shows that the unemployment rate in the last fiscal, over 6 percent, was the highest in four decades. Neither Goyal’s Budget speech nor any other government functionary’s any statement has been able to respond to the charge of jobless growth.
Hence the Finance Minister’s constant referring to jobs.