Modi’s minister says need to do more on jobs, but the real crisis is data

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Published: April 17, 2019 12:56:57 PM

India is going to be home to the world’s largest workforce by 2017, Puri said. Therefore, there is a need for providing proper education and skill to them or else there would arise enormous problems in the country.

Amid raging debate on unemployment and India’s economic growth figures, Hardeep Singh Puri, a minister in Narendra Modi’s Cabinet, sought to draw attention to the absence of credible data on the same, while admitting that more needs to be done to create jobs. Minister of State for Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri said that while there may be an employment crisis, there is definitely a data crisis.

“We may have an employment crisis. I am the first to say that we need to do more. But one thing we definitely have is a data crisis. The ability, the instrument to measure growth that is taking place is not there,” Hardeep Singh Puri said at an event in New Delhi.

A leaked NSSO report showing rising unemployment had put unemployment in India at 45-year high. Several economists have also raised questions on the credibility of growth numbers. Former RBI governor and former IMF Chief Economist Raghuram Rajan said: “How can we be growing at 7 percent and not have jobs.”

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The leaked NSSO report was based on zero urbanisation, Puri said at the event. With thousands of people coming to cities every day, creating informal settlements and slums, the notion of ‘zero urbanisation’ is questionable, he added. He instead pointed out towards a study by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) according to which 13-15 million jobs have been created in the Indian economy over the last five years.

“If that is correct, and I have no reason (to believe) that it is wrong, then that other report is a false narrative. In any case, my submission is that we need to improve the data that we have, because any manipulation in terms of narrative is ultimately based on data or the lack of it,” Puri said.

India is going to be home to the world’s largest workforce by 2017, Puri said. Therefore, there is a need for providing proper education and skill to them or else there would arise enormous problems in the country.

“I am very worried about the way, the direction the education system is taking, because I think there are some things holding us back. And what is holding us back is the reluctance to reform, which is coming not from the students. I think it’s a reluctance coming from those who are in charge of drafting the curriculae and setting courses,” he added.

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