Don't Get Distracted By 'Jobless Growth' Debate; Indian Economy Needs Growth: Sanjeev Sanyal

Swarajya Staff

Feb 16, 2023, 05:42 PM | Updated 05:41 PM IST

Debate around jobless growth is a dead-end conversation.
Debate around jobless growth is a dead-end conversation.

Our economy needs growth and the whole debate about jobless growth is a red herring, we should not get distracted by it, said Sanjeev Sanyal, member of the Prime Minister-Economic Advisory Council in a recent interview with Forbes India.

 Conversations On Jobless Growth Are A Dead-End 

When asked in the context of India enjoying a ‘demographic dividend’ in the coming 15 years before its population starts to decline and becomes a ‘liability’ given the ‘job numbers’, and what reforms can be taken to address this, Sanyal unequivocally stated, “Let me make one thing very clear, our economy needs growth and this whole debate about ‘jobless growth’ is a red herring. We should not get distracted by it.”

“We need to generate growth, and generate growth in multiple sectors, one sector cannot do it, we have a large population and a diverse economy. We are capable of doing this,” he said.

“Never allow anyone to divert you into this conversation about jobless growth. It’s a complete dead-end conversation,” he added.

The statement comes amidst the expectations of India already becoming the most populous country in the world, and the opposition harping on the rhetoric of ‘jobless growth’ in the economy. 

When India is posting a ‘world-beating’ gross domestic growth (GDP) growth rate of 6.8 per cent, ahead of many large economies, a swarm of rhetoric generated through newspaper editorials and opposition’s theatrics on Parliament floor has tried to paint a picture of GDP growth without generation of employment for India’s youth.

The data, however, shows otherwise. The Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS), conducted by the National Statistical Office (NSO), shows that the labour market has not only recovered from the jolt of the Covid-19 pandemic but has risen to above pre-pandemic levels.

The unemployment rate during the July-September 2022 period stood at 7.2 per cent, compared to 8.3 per cent in 2019, as per PLFS.

The Ministry of Labour and Unemployment had even posted a rebuttal to the surveys conducted by ‘private organisations’ and alleged that their methodology is neither scientific nor up to internationally accepted norms.

Skilling And Flexibility In Labour Markets Important

Sanyal also said that skilling is an important part of this conversation, and it is a major segment of the budget and policymaking.

“But we need to find other ways of skilling, just formal skilling i.e. everybody goes to university is not a meaningful way of doing it.”

He then touched upon the importance of ‘maintaining flexibility in the labour markets’.

“Do remember that many of the jobs that the next generation will do, don’t exist today. We need to think about this much more fluidly,” he concluded.

Notably, the Union Budget 2023 has laid a strong emphasis on skilling and education, with both the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship receiving higher allocations of Rs 1.04 lakh crore and Rs 3.5 lakh crore respectively.

The Finance Minister also announced the launch of ‘Kaushal Vikas Yojana 4.0’ and an allocation of Rs 2.27 lakh crore to the Skill India programme.

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