Unless you want to be a street vendor, a cab driver, or a road construction worker, please start your own business -- because there are no high-paying jobs in India



  • A leaked draft report from the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) has found that unemployment in the world’s fastest growing economy is at its highest in 45 years.
  • “There is enough evidence to show that employment has increased,” Rajiv Kumar, the vice chairman of Niti Aayog, a government think tank chaired by the country’s prime minister.
  • However, to quash the findings of the report, the government has only been able to offer data on a rise in call centre positions, taxi drivers, construction workers and employees working at startups.

India’s Narendra Modi government is facing a moment of truth. A leaked draft report from the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) has found that unemployment in the world’s fastest growing economy is at its highest in 45 years, reported Business Standard.

Obviously, the opposition parties wasted no time in using the news to corner the incumbent government. The defense took its time but what they put out is a different story altogether.

While the defendants refused to comment on the undisclosed survey, still, a denial was probably in order . “There is enough evidence to show that employment has increased,” Rajiv Kumar, the vice chairman of Niti Aayog, a government think tank chaired by the country’s prime minister.

Kumar went on to substantiate it, not with employment numbers, but something he thought was close enough. “That 11-12% (nominal GDP) growth cannot happen if employment hasn’t grown,” Kumar argued. The point did seem to stump the rather combative press, but not for more than a moment.

Soon after the CEO, from the same think tank chipped in with more numbers. In the case of Ola, the number of registered drivers went up from 37,000 to near a million in four years, and Uber has over 1.2 million drivers now, Amitabh Kant said.

“14 million jobs were created in the transport between 2014 and 2018,” Kant said. A lot of them are delivery boys and truck drivers working for the big e-commerce companies.

Kant cited three million jobs created in road construction, 14.6 million jobs in tourism, and another 1.5 million in the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry. “There are 19,000 startups in the country,” Kant roared right after.

In India, numbers can be tricky. The website for Startup India, a dedicated government programme, says 15,649 startups recognised till date.

Then came the Mudra loans, a programme launched in April 2015 has been a big defence for the Modi government.

The state offers loans without collateral for people to start micro and small businesses. Loans worth ₹7.43 trillion have been approved under the Mudra scheme to 154 million applicants, 74% of them are women, according to Kant.

However, a recent survey India Today published on January 29, showed that many of these small unsecured loans are just waiting to turn sour for various reasons. Far from being a source of livelihood, or a job-creating investment, these loans are at best being used in unproductive ventures.

But it remains a fact that the government has facilitated these loans, and may have even arm twisted unwilling bankers to lend more under the Mudra scheme, as found by the same India Today survey. It is a different matter that these loans have failed to produce profit or jobs.

So, in 2019 India, it’s great if you have an idea for a startup. If not, there are jobs as drivers for Ola and Uber, vacancies in BPOs, placements in e-commerce deliveries, gigs in road construction and some openings, thanks to tourism. For everyone else, there are Mudra loans, which you may not have to return.

The opposition may not have expected this defence from the government after a similar faux pas by none other than the prime minister himself. In an interview in 2018, Modi said, “If someone opens a 'pakoda' shop in front of your office, does that not count at employment? The person's daily earning of Rs 200 will never come into any books or accounts. The truth is massive people are being employed.”

His trolls had a field day then. It’s unlikely his critics will miss another opportunity now.
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