Tag Archives: India

Demonetisation has hit jobs, paralysed growth

The government has tactfully shifted its focus from tackling black money to cashless economy in the absence of the impact demonetisation should have made on black money, counterfeit currency and corruption. It has now realised that the gamble has gone wrong.

The Indian economy is bearing the brunt of the ambitious drive. It has been on the negative slope when it comes to production of goods as well as consumer demand. The contraction in the output growth has started reflecting on the employment scenario. The formal and informal sectors of the economy were already struggling with depressed demand and investment and now the demonetisation impact is forcing them to cut jobs and freeze hiring.

Employment reacts quickly to changes in output, because the job market reacts to an increase in output in the same quarter. Weak output growth means lack of job creation. If we see the economic scenario of India just before demonetisation, it was struggling with slow demand, slow investment and, consequently, slow production. The industrial output had slipped to 1.9 per cent in October compared to an expansion of 9.9 per cent in the same month last year and this has happened due to the decline in production of capital goods and the unimpressive performance of the manufacturing sector.

The manufacturing sector, which constitutes more than 75 per cent of the Index of Industrial Production (IIP), recorded a contraction of 2.4 per cent in October. Similarly, the capital goods output shrank by 25.9 per cent and the mining sector by 3.1 per cent.

Then came the demonetisation blow which led to further contraction of the economy. From manufacturing to service, all sectors of the economy were adversely affected at a time when they were already exposed to the vulnerability of the market. If the Purchase Managers’ Index (PMI) of the service sector for November is any indication, there has been a sharp contraction of demand in the sector.

The index has reduced to 46.7 in November from 54.5 in the preceding month. Similarly, the PMI for the manufacturing sector has reduced to 52.3 in November from 54.4 in October.

Demonetisation has adversely affected manufacturing growth because of the slowdown in production as well as domestic consumption. Manufacturing production growth lagged amid cash shortages.

The adverse impacts demonetisation had on the economy in its entirety were reflected on the employment potential of the economy. Large sectors like information technology, BPOs, automobile, transport, gems and jewellery, handloom and leather industries had witnessed negative job growth during 2015.

Demonetisation would only add to their existing woes. For example, how will the textile sector, which employs nearly seven million people as daily labourers, pay to them in absence of cash supply?

Industries like handloom, leather and automobile face the same situation. The construction industry has also been badly hit with significant wage implications for its casual workforce. How will contractors pay labourers who are primarily daily wagers?

There is every likelihood that the country’s industrial production will shrink further because of the impact of demonetisation. Companies have already delayed production and cut down on targets. Manufacturing is the leading sector in output growth. To revive employment growth, we need to revive the manufacturing sector.

If employment in the manufacturing sector suffers the brunt, where would people find jobs? Every year we add 15 million job seekers to the market, but as per latest assessments, we would be losing four lakh jobs next year – because economic slowdown is a corollary of demonetisation. The e-commerce sector alone is expected to shed two lakh employees. Where will they go? The immediate concern is that if employment growth has been poor during a period of high output growth, it will probably worsen in the years to come, when the GDP growth is expected to weaken.

Sensing the reality, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has revised growth estimates to 7.1 per cent from 7.6 per cent. Some economists predict the growth rate will remain below 7 per cent.

The reluctance of the central bank to reduce the repo rate indicates the economy is likely to face inflationary pressure. Economic slowdown accompanied by inflation paints a dangerous picture of the economy post-demonetisation.

Apart from the formal sectors, demonetisation has severely affected the informal sector, which accounts for 45 per cent of the GDP and 80 per cent of employment.

As some economists have rightly remarked, a permanent dent has been made to the informal sector by virtue of the demonetisation. The consequences have already begun. Small business establishments are facing great inconvenience leading to job loss in the unorganised sector.

A jute mill in West Bengal’s Howrah district has to be shut down because the mill management can no longer pay wages to the workforce.

All the 2,500 workers of the mill have been rendered jobless. Hundreds of labourers have been rendered jobless in the bangle factories of Firozabad, Uttar Pradesh as 90 per cent of the factories have shut owing to a cash crunch. The knitwear units in Ludhiana are winding up their businesses too. Many tea garden workers in West Bengal and Assam are jobless. The diamond and ceramics industry of Gujarat is also bearing the brunt of the note ban with 60 per cent of the ceramics factories shutting shop.

The state’s textile industry has been paralysed after the demonetisation move led to thousands of workers losing their jobs. The adverse impact of demonetisation on the MSMEs, which account for 20 per cent of the GDP, will hit the job market the hardest in the long run. Sectors like FMCG, consumer durables, and retail too have stopped hiring as consumer goods sales are reported to have dropped by a third.

Ten million jobs per year is what BJP promised the youth of India in 2014. The reality is the number of jobs created in 2015 was much less than what it was a few years ago. Job creation is at its lowest in the last seven years. Large traditional sectors are not where jobs are being created. The agriculture sector is expected to see a decline of 25 million jobs by 2023. At this point, the slowdown of the economy will render lakhs of people jobless and millions will be deprived of their livelihood.

The objective of transparency in financial transactions and creating a cashless economy is a good one, but not in sync with the state of our economy. The strengths and weaknesses of our economy ought to have been taken into consideration before taking the decision.

The shock therapy we are witnessing in the form of demonetisation – without structural transformations – is capable of denting the momentum of job creation in the long run.

Source : http://www.dailyo.in/politics/demonetisation-job-growth-unemployment-black-money-corruption-bjp-cash-crisis/story/1/14625.html

Judicial reform is a must

Even after six months have lapsed since the chief justice of India emotionally pleaded for filling up the vacancies in courts, the government is sitting over the names cleared by the Supreme Court, undermining the agony of judiciary.

Recently, after the apex court spoke of scuttling and decimating the institution of judiciary, only 10 names have been cleared for appointment. This was despite Supreme Court taking exception to the Center cherry-picking the names recommended by collegium.

The logjam that started in August 2014 between the government and the judiciary has become complicated over the period of time. In August this year, the apex court had to warn of judicial intervention if the impasse is not broken. The warning came after the government’s response to the objections of the collegium in the memorandum of procedure (MoP) regarding who shall have the final say in selection and rejection of names. Since then, both the parties are yet to agree on the MoP to proceed further on the appointment process.

If the timeline of the matter is of any indication, it is clear that the government has decided to confront the judiciary on MoP notwithstanding its reservations. Also, there seems to be no hurry to fill the existing vacancies. On the other hand, Supreme Court is not ready to accept the clause in the MoP that gives the Center a veto like power to reject any recommendation of the collegium even after it has been reiterated.

At present, India has 10.5 judges per million population, one of the lowest in the world. In 2014, the Law Commission in its 245th report had suggested that there should be 50 judges per million. The recommendations of the Law Commission are still in cold store. There is not a single word from the government regarding consideration of the recommendations or otherwise. In the monsoon session of Parliament, the government had admitted of 475 vacancies in various high courts of our country. Allahabad High Court tops the list with 82 vacancies followed by high courts of Hyderabad, Bombay and Calcutta.

Situation is not comfortable in lower courts either with nearly 5,000 vacancies. The last time the sanctioned strength of the lower judiciary was increased was in 2012 when an additional 2,787 posts were created by the UPA government. So, by any rational standard, the judiciary in India is undermanned. Even the fast track courts are suffering from manpower shortage. With this crunch in human resource, the judiciary is fighting with the herculean task of clearing 3.2 crore pending cases, the figure expanding with each passing day. Just the high courts alone have more than 38 lakh cases pending for judgement.

Such vacancies are not only affecting speedy disposal of cases but also affecting quality of justice as well. A study conducted by a Bengaluru based NGO Daksh found that high court judges in India are getting an average 2.5 minutes to hear case and an average five to six minutes to decide a case. Nothing can be better calculated to destroy the sanctity of the institution than the prevailing situation. In the mutual distrust between the executive and the judiciary, the common man is losing trust on the both.

The delays have the potential to make matters worse. It impacts the whole system. We should not forget that 68 per cent of the inmates in Indian jails are under trials. They are in jails because they cannot afford the bail amount. They belong to the poor and marginalised sections of society. Over 55 per cent of the under trials are dalits, tribals and minorities. Approximately 5,000 persons with mental disabilities are languishing in various jails in India.

There is an imperative on the part of the government to break the deadlock so that the vacancies in judiciary are filled up without any further delay and the health of the judiciary is recovered before it gets paralyzed. Besides, additional courts must be created and additional judicial officers must be appointed till the backlog is cleared. Ad hoc judges under Article 224A of the Constitution should be appointed to clear the backlog in the high courts for a period of five years or till the backlog is cleared. All the cases which are pending in the high court for two years or more can be allocated to these ad hoc judges. Since the annual institution in high courts as well as in subordinate courts exceeds their respective annual disposal, additional judges in high courts as well as in subordinate courts should be appointed on permanent basis to deal with the increase in institution over the disposal.

Another important aspect that has been repeatedly pointed out by the apex court is litigations by government. Being the largest litigant, it should reduce the burden on the courts. The structural gaps in the judiciary need to be fixed. The infrastructure in courts should also be rebooted. The state governments concerned should also expedite filling up the vacancies in lower courts.

An independent and effective judiciary is the very heart of a republic. Judicial reform, in accordance with contemporary needs and challenges, is necessary. We also need more women judges. After 70 years of independence, women constitute less than 10 per cent of judges in high courts. Access to justice is a fundamental right. State cannot disown the responsibility it shares with the judiciary to deliver an efficient and accessible justice system to the people of India.

SAARC needs to look beyond India and Pakistan

To succeed Despite common problems, the policies adopted by the members are contradictory to one another.

Be it sports or foreign policy, when India and Pakistan are pitted against one another, the event is bound to make it to breaking news. So was the recent interior and home ministers’ summit of SAARC countries in Islamabad.

But more than the headlines, we need to understand the objectives and principles the association stands for and to what extent it has succeeded in achieving them.

The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was formed in 1985 under Article 52 of the UN Charter providing existence of regional arrangements for dealing with such matters, relating to the maintenance of international peace and security with the purpose and principles of the UN Charter.

It now represents 16.5 per cent of the world’s population.

In 31 years of its existence, SAARC has evolved and achieved a lot in terms of poverty reduction, food security, energy cooperation and social welfare. But, its relevance has been more or less limited to bilateral issues.

Despite regular meetings of policy makers and seminars by specialists, SAARC is yet to emerge as a strong forum to protect the interests of its member countries, compared to regional associations like ASEAN or NAFTA.

One of the reasons for the limited success of SAARC has been a shortage of milestones that will lead to closer cooperation among the member countries.

The world is watching South Asia. It is time to walk the talk, but unless there is peace among the member countries, especially between the two big partners, India and Pakistan, SAARC shall remain an association where bilateral issues prevail over the much-desired common multilateral goals.

SAARC was formed despite many obstacles and antipathy among the member nations.

Amid the diversities, challenges faced by SAARC countries, such as poverty, unemployment, inflationary pressure, unfavourable trade balance, high budget deficits and climate change are common.

However, despite common problems, the policies adopted by the members are contradictory to one another. For the sake a unified purpose, they need to develop a uniform approach towards these problems.

As we have moved from Millennium Development Goals to achieve Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, greater cooperation among the SAARC countries will make the region stable, safe and prosperous. Therefore, complementary, not competitive policies will develop the region.

Terrorism is the most disturbing challenge for peace, security and democracy not only in South Asia, but also the rest of the world. Along with cross border drug trafficking, it has created instability and insecurity in the region.

Even though every SAARC member pledges to eliminate terrorism in all forms at every summit, back home, countries like Pakistan pursue their own agenda and policies, which are not in consonance with the SAARC Charter, and the consequence is growing insecurity and threats to the South Asian region and humanity.

Terrorism demands a coordinated approach at the international level for sustainable global peace.

If a country sees it from a different perspective and makes a distinction between good terror and bad terror, the pathway to sustainable peace would be very difficult.

If we can eliminate the menace and focus our attention, as one unit of development, on issues like improving education, health, et al, the South Asian demographic dividend will be a reality and SAARC will emerge as an effective vehicle to achieve the developmental aspirations of all South Asians.

In this context, the effective implementation of the initiatives taken by SAARC, including the Regional Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism and its additional protocol has to be ensured.

The impact of Brexit on South Asia is yet to be analysed in detail, but it affects us all. All South Asian economies will experience its ripples in terms of growth, trade and employment. The situation demands that SAARC achieves regional economic integration on a fast track basis with the optimisation of SAFTA towards South Asian Economic Union (SAEU).

Another area that needs the attention of and cooperation among SAARC countries is agriculture. In fact, SAARC’s roots lay in the IPA Declaration adopted by the foreign ministers of South Asia in 1983 calling for regional cooperation in the areas of agriculture, health, rural development and population.

The SAARC nations, at this stage, must not lose their focus on this front because they have the core competence in the sector and their economies are dominated by it. The greatest opportunity for SAARC is that India has one of the widest and best networks of agricultural education and research in the world. Other South Asian nations should take advantage of this.

One fifth of the South Asian population is younger than 24 years. Therefore, the countries as well as SAARC should step up efforts to create adequate and suitable employment opportunities for the age group.

Employment is a matter of serious concern for all SAARC economies, including India. Young Parliamentarians from SAARC nations will meet in Islamabad later this month and the annual summit is scheduled to be held in November.

It is high time SAARC prioritised the looming challenges in the region.

Strategic partnership and greater cooperation among the member countries will lead to the emergence of the SAARC as a formidable bloc, much like the ASEAN and a platform for development of the South Asian region.

It is not the problems, but the solutions that must bind SAARC nations. The commitment should be towards implementation of the resolutions on core issues.

The best way and the need of the hour is sincerity of purpose and honesty in effort.

Will the SAARC fight the challenges?

India needs to play a bigger role in Afghanistan

It is said that the less you know about an opportunity, the more attractive it is. Recently, I got a golden opportunity to engage in a three-day dialogue at the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) in Brussels, along with some selected policy makers of our country, on the invitation of the government of United States, for a deeper understanding and interaction on how NATO’s post-2014 security partnership intersects with India’s security interests in Afghanistan, focusing on the complexities of the transition process and on the importance of international cooperation, especially India’s, in making the transition a success. From India’s point of view, it was very important for us to analyse, measure and understand the magnitude of threats and opportunities for India vis-a-vis situation in Afghanistan, in the post-2014 scenario.

A key focus of our engagement was the security relationship. We shared the genuine security concerns of our country about Afghanistan’s future and keenness of India for a broader opportunity in the country in the post-2014 scenario.

There is no doubt that the UN mandated intervention in Afghanistan by the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in 2001 was culmination of varied geopolitical and economic considerations, besides the genuine security factors, but given that situation, there was no comparable or equivalent organisation other than NATO to effectively deal with the huge responsibility. The achievements of NATO could be measured in terms of its objectives, as a security organisation.

Whenever the integrity and sovereignty of any of its member country has been under threat, it has acted and acted decisively but NATO has never attacked any country or invaded into the territory of any country gratuitous. The economic and military mighty of NATO had completely marginalised the Talibani forces in Afghanistan. Their biggest achievement has been to help Afghanistan to build a 350,000-strong security force from scratch.

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But they are still ill-equipped, particularly when it comes to air support and intelligence gathering. Whereas NATO is committed to continuing self-sustaining economic and military support to Afghanistan, given the resources and the level of training they have vis-a-vis the strength of the Taliban’s, it is a legitimate fear that the Afghan Nation Security Force (ANSF) may face difficulties to prevent resurgence of Taliban in the region.

If this happens, it will have serious regional repercussions and will disturb peace and governance in South Asia and Central Asia. Post-withdrawal, security overall is deteriorating and Taliban is already regaining significant position in much of Afghanistan, jeopardising peace and security in the region. A Somalia like situation or emergence of a civil war in Afghanistan will have grave regional implications. Narco-terrorism is another serious concern for the neighbouring countries of Afghanistan, including India.

Our three-day engagement with NATO gave us a feeling that for the persistent economic, political and military engagement of India as a peace keeper in the region and for its role in reconstruction of the post-Taliban Afghanistan, NATO has accepted India as a legitimate stakeholder so far as post-2014 Afghanistan is concerned. NATO shares India’s interests and vision in Afghanistan which is very important in the context of the proactive role of China and Pakistan in the region. After all, it was no one but India which persuaded Afghanistan, successfully, to join SAARC in 2007.

In the present context, uncertainty is there. Beyond Afghanistan, NATO has its own challenges in Ukraine, Syria and Russia. NATO is big enough and powerful enough and stable enough to be able to deal with both threats at the same time. But post-2014 scenario in Afghanistan, India has opportunities to expand its role in the region and take the crucial responsibility of leading the international community in sustaining a stable and functional democratic government in Afghanistan on the one hand and to deal firmly with the challenges of threat perception from the non-state actors hostile to India operating from the Afghan soil on the other hand.

India has been historically discharging its responsibility in the region in a constructive manner. Despite its own many domestic needs, India is Afghanistan’s sixth largest donor, providing the country with some $2 billion in effective aid since 2001. The Strategic Partnership Agreement between the two countries gives a legitimate edge to India in Afghanistan.

India is well-positioned to play a responsible and democracy-supporting role in security issues, not just in the volatile South Asia region but also beyond. The need is to intensify our efforts in the region. It is also because ISIS activities are gaining roots in Afghanistan and the region is gradually emerging as a hotbed for breeding Islamic extremism. If the recent trends are any indicators of the future, the security situation in Afghanistan is serious and headed to take a complicated turn that would further test the tenacity and already dwindling resources of the Afghan government and security forces.

The presence of ISIS in Afghanistan has direct security implications for India. Therefore, as developments in Afghanistan will directly impinge on India’s security, the present and future demands that the government of India should craft a futuristic policy and execute it strategically to cease the opportunity in Afghanistan. It is in the interest of not only India but entire South Asia and also in the interest of Central Asia that the rein of Afghanistan should not be handed over to the radicals once again.

Afghanistan is also a significant trading partner of India. In spite of many transit obstacles, the volume of Indo-Afghan trade stood at $680 million during 2013-2014, a figure that should exponentially rise, following the full implementation of the Afghanistan and Pakistan Trade and Transit Agreement (APTTA). The only caution is cut in international aid after NATO withdrawal may take Afghanistan into a recession, which will have adverse economic impact on India, complicating things in the context of global slowdown in demand.

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NATO is the biggest political military alliance in history and India is the largest democracy in the world with an excellent track record of its contribution to world peace from the Rig Vedic times to UN missions across the globe in the present millennium. There is no doubt that the foreign policy of India should be based on pragmatic considerations and changing world order.

But, at the same time, historical considerations are equally important in defining parameters of foreign policy. It is in this context, the dialogue between India and NATO can be understood. It is not an issue whether the largest democracy and the biggest political-military alliance should cooperate and consult each other but the real questions are how and to what extent .


Death penalty is arbitrary and should be abolished

The recommendations of the Law Commission for graded abolition of death penalty has once again opened the debate on both the right of a State to take away the life of a person as well as effectiveness of death penalty as a deterrence against crime. The Commission is of the view that the notion of an ‘eye for an eye’ and ‘a tooth for a tooth’ has no place in our constitution and legal system.

The Bhagavad Geeta has also taught us that there is no permanent labelling of human beings as good or evil. Even the man with most evil ways may chose to turn a new leaf, sometime in his life. Jesus has also said that even when we have undeniable proof of another’s wrong doing, we should exercise mental charity. Therefore, we should not label a man a criminal beyond redemption and approve of putting him to death, without giving him a chance to repent and mend his ways.


As per Amnesty International Report, 2014, at least 2,466 people in 55 countries have been sentenced to death in 2014 and more than 19,000 people were believed to be under sentence of death worldwide at the end of 2014.

During this period, 64 persons have been sentenced to death in India. The figures appear to be high given the value of each human life is concerned. But, still there is a positive sign that the number of executions recorded in 2014 decreased by 22% compared to 2013. In case of India also, the number has reduced by almost 50% (from 125 in 2013 to 64 in 2014), during the period. A total of 339 convicts were awarded capital punishment during 2011-13 in India.

This itself is an indication that the judiciary across the nations, including India, is gradually feeling uncomfortable with death penalty as a form of punishment.
The change in heart and change in perception is not without basis and logic.

About 80% of the under trials belong to the disadvantaged sections of society. A study done by National Law University, Delhi, and the Law Commission has confirmed that there is a class bias in awarding the death penalty. According to the study, more than 75% of death row convicts belong to backward classes and minorities; 75% are economically vulnerable and over 93% of those sentenced for terror crimes are minorities or Dalits.

This goes against the principle that justice should not only be done but also appear to be done. One of the basic objectives of retaining capital punishment is believed to have an effective deterrent against crime. But, does it serve the purpose? Have we ever tried to correlate between the two? Perhaps not, fearing of not establishing the correlation.

There is no evidence to support the argument that death sentence has a greater deterrent effect on crime than imprisonment. In fact, I have not come across any scientific study establishing that capital punishment deters criminals from committing crime. So far as victims’ right is concerned, injustice, once done, cannot be returned. Death sentence is irreversible and in justice system which is not free from human error, execution of an innocent cannot be ruled out.

The Supreme Court has, in the past, admitted that death penalty jurisprudence is arbitrary in India. Secondly, there is possibility of using death sentence as a political tool. When capital punishment is used as a political tool, either to silence the critics or to reap electoral dividends, it has the potential to create disharmony in society.

The issue of national security is definitely a serious and sensitive issue. Keeping this mind, the Law Commission has kept it outside the purview of abolition. But, we need to keep in mind that we are victims of state sponsored terrorism. Terror is being unleashed against India as a political and military strategy. So, death penalty of a terrorist will have no implication as a deterrent.

Besides diplomacy, we need effective counter-terrorism measures, stringent border management and very effective internal security and intelligence mechanism to fight against state sponsored terrorism. This will help us to fight not only against terrorism but naxal insurgency and internal law & order issues as well.

As rightly pointed by Justice AP Shah Commission, the capital punishment system is diverting our attention to other urgent issues like low conviction rate, prevention of crime, protection of witnesses, police reforms, etc. According to the National Crime Records Bureau data, the rate of conviction in crimes committed under IPC has dropped significantly in the recent decades.

In serious cases like rape and murder, conviction rate is abysmal, less than the average conviction rate of 38.5%. So, there is an urgency of strict enforcement of law and police reform so that conviction rates can be higher. This will be a greater deterrent than capital punishment as the probability of being punished for committing a crime will be higher. The Government should also clear the National Judicial Appointment Commission mess at the earliest and fill up the vacancies in both higher and lower judiciary.

The Law Commission had recommended earlier that there should be at least 50 judges per one million population. At present, the number is eleven. So, the vacancies need to filled up on an emergent basis. Approximately, 2 crore 64 lakh cases are pending in lower and district courts. If the Government can fast track these cases, it will benefit crores of people. This will bestow confidence of people on the State and judiciary. Another important thing is that cases should be examined in terms of their merit, the result not being influenced by media and public opinion. Media driven justice is against healthy judicial practice.

With nation-states evolving and their criminal justice system becoming more humane, nations after nations are abolishing death penalty. Despite this, the phenomenon is still there and unfortunately exist in a great civilisation like India. It is time for India to take a positive and progressive move and do away with the irreversible and extreme form of inhuman punishment. Even the ‘rarest of rare’ doctrine is arbitrary. Let’s build a mature, functional and healthy criminal justice system. There should be complete moratorium on capital punishment.

The Author is a Supreme Court Lawyer and National Media Panellist, the Indian National Congress. The views expressed by the Author are personal.


Teaching skills won’t help India get jobs, Mr Modi

During a discussion with teachers and students at Birla House in Delhi on December 10, 1947, Gandhiji said “only through imparting education through crafts can India stand before the world’’0. Taking the Gandhian principle ahead, successive governments in India have concentrated on education as a tool to develop human resource of the country. While the initial focus was on literacy and enrollment, gradually the target shifted to quality education and imparting skills to prepare for future challenges.

The UPA government had started the Honhaar Bharat programme and launched the National Skill Development Mission in 2010 with the objective of skilling 50 crore people by 2022. The NDA government, after it came to power in May, 2014, retooled the UPA policies on skill development and has set the target of skilling 40.2 crore workers by 2022. Therefore, the call for Skill India is not an innovation, but continuation of the education and human resource policies followed by the successive governments since independence.

But are we equipped to achieve this target?

UN reports suggest that India is on course to be the world’s most populous nation by 2022. By 2022, India, with 60 crore working age population, would have the world’s largest workforce. UN estimates further suggest that India will have an additional 30 crore people in the working age group (15-64 years) between 2010 and 2040. Yet, India’s workforce is among the least skilled – only 3.5 per cent of country’s workforce possess some or the other skills. The skill development minister himself had candidly admitted in January this year that the 2022 target is almost impossible to achieve.

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 Who are the agents that will make it happen and are they equipped to do so? For example, the Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) are not equipped, in terms of resource, infrastructure and manpower, to meet the requirements of the industry and market. We need to upgrade the ITIs and polytechnics to fill the skill gaps in the long run, but for the present the industry will have to help itself primarily by way of apprenticeship.

Secondly, skills without education will not build a quality human resource base. In our country, 50 per cent of the kids lack skills for the grades they are in. Teachers are not trained to impart skills to students. Students are being schooled against innovation, for the teachers themselves are not trained. Therefore, quality education is a must, to provide a strong platform to the youth. Primary education should be strengthened. Right to Education and Sarva Sikhya Abhiyan were the right steps in this regard and they should be provided impetus with large budgetary allocations and proper monitoring without diluting their basic objectives.

Nature magazine in its May, 2015 report states that India lags behind Kenya in research, with only four researchers per 10,000 working population. In this background, higher education institutions facing resource crunch following cut in social sector spending by the NDA government is not a good omen. We need to increase the centres of quality education without diluting their core brand value.


Will a better skill-set ensure jobs? The possible answer is no. Surveys have found that joblessness is also high among the skilled workers. More than 20 per cent of young Indians are jobless. Rise in India’s GDP has not resulted in a proportional rise in job creation. Employment generation has been led by the informal segment. If faster growth is unable to generate sufficient employment, then recovery will not be inclusive. According to the latest Labour Bureau survey, among those who got formal training, the unemployment rate was high at 14.5 per cent. Therefore, unless new jobs are created, particularly in the manufacturing sector, imparting skills to millions is not going to solve the problem.

Skill development is important not only to reap the benefits of India’s demographic dividend, but also to fuel inclusive growth. For that we need to have policy consistencies. We need to avoid disputes such as the one whether FIIs are subject to MAT or not. Secondly, there should not be a disconnect between the skill development programmes and employment policies of the government.

The intended legislation of the government to dilute the brand value of IIMs and implementation of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) module of education are not going to help either the youth of India nor positioning of our country in the global platform of education and skills. Indian education institutions should not be further alienated from their global partners. Rather, they have to engage with the rest of the world. They have to collaborate, partner and learn what is appropriate for our country.

Universalism and not exclusivity should guide our education policies. The government is planning to make skill training a fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution, but according to the plan proposal, states will be the implementing agencies. Before going ahead with the proposal, the government should seriously consider the position of the states in terms of available infrastructure and financial viability, for implementation of the scheme. Unless there is a sustainable source of funding, implementation would be practically impossible.

A lot needs to be done if India is to reap the benefits of demographic dividend. India’s demographic dividend could turn into a nightmare if its youth are not employable and provided with suitable employment opportunities.