South Asia and Beyond

Is India’s Story Unidimensional? Or Does It Have Several Complex Layers

NEW DELHI: Since the turn of the Millennium India has been dubbed as another case of jobless growth. Yes, as an economy it has grown from $1 trillion to $3 trillion in little over a decade. However, official employment numbers, though dated reveal that job creation has been lagging behind. The size of the workforce is estimated at around 430 million. Bulk of them, 88%, are classified as informal workers. The biggest challenge has been that agriculture, which accounts for less than a fifth of national output, accounts for nearly 50% of the workforce. One big question being asked though, increasingly at that, is whether the official data is capturing job creation, especially in an economy which has transformed structurally, very rapidly, in the last three decades. The rapid growth of the digital economy and associated services like hail-cabs, food delivery, ecommerce, suggest that this reasoning has merit. Further, the regulatory burden that companies need to shoulder, incentivises them to remain small and keep employment off the books. Not only does this impair productivity it complicates the measure of employment. In the sense it tends to underestimate job count and at the same time enable employers to evade paying social security to their staff. To be sure India has a jobs problem. The issue is whether it is about the number of jobs or their quality? From the point of view of social stability job creation is critical. Strategically it makes the employed stakeholders in the growth process. That way they are no longer outside looking in and hence that much more invested. At the same time it is fair to pose the question as to whether official data measures behind the curve? Do they have the resilience and capacity to capture job creation in the new economy? Unfortunately, there are more questions than answers. In short the entire business of jobs in India is vague. Akin to 50 shades of grey. At the same time it is also a very divisive and noisy debate. Yet a solution to India’s job problem is a precondition to ensure social stability in a country which is witnessing unprecedented spurt in aspirations. To unpack this and more we spoke to Rituparna Chakraborty Co-Founder and Executive Director, TeamLease—one of India’s largest human resource companies serving over 3,500 companies.

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