Never mind the spate of bad news on the jobs front, India’s official numbers don’t indicate any cause for alarm.
In 2018, for instance, a mere 386 jobs were lost in the country (pdf) due to closure of industries, according to the minister of state for labour and employment, Santosh Gangwar. Yesterday (July 22), he tabled in parliament the provisional numbers of labourers who reportedly lost their jobs following industries closing down.
“Labour bureau brings out statistics on ‘industrial disputes, closures, retrenchments and lay-offs in India’ based on the voluntary returns received every month from the labour departments of the states and the regional labour commissioner (central),” Gangwar said in a reply to a question in the lower house of the parliament, the Lok Sabha.
He listed out statistics from 2016 to July 1, 2019. However, the numbers for West Bengal were not released.
The numbers below reflect how many workers were affected due to the factory closures across industries, as per the government’s estimate.
|States / Union territories||2016||2017||2018||2019|
|Assam||Nil||109||Not reported||Not reported|
|Himachal Pradesh||204||Nil||13||Not reported|
|Madhya Pradesh||Not reported||Not reported||Not reported||Not reported|
|Tripura||566||29||Not reported||Not reported|
|Uttar Pradesh||345||234||Not reported||Not reported|
|West Bengal||Not reported||Not reported||Not reported||Not reported|
|Total state sphere||2,079||1,764||386|
|Total central sphere||(Nil)||(976)||(Nil)||(Nil)|
|Note (a): Numbers in bracket denote central sphere|
|Note (b): The information in respect of remaining states/union territories is either “nil” or “not reported.”|
|Source: Labour Bureau, Shimla|
Gangwar also informed the house that technology automation has not replaced workers but improved productivity, refuting the allegations that increasing level of automation will result in job losses in the country.
“The technology automation has not replaced workers, but improved productivity and provided workers the time to focus on other tasks involving complex decision making and social interactions,” he said.
The problem of unemployment
Amidst concerns in various quarters about reports on rising unemployment, the labour minister asserted that employment generation is the priority of the government.
“Government has taken various steps for generating employment in the country like encouraging private sector of economy, fast tracking various projects involving substantial investment and increasing public expenditure on schemes such as Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP), Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), Pt. Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana (DDU-GKY), and Deendayal Antodaya Yojana-National Urban Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NULM),” he said in a reply to a question pertaining to the data on unemployed youth in the country.
Earlier in May, the data from the labour ministry confirmed that the unemployment rate in the country was at a 45-year high. This was first reported by the Business Standard newspaper in February. Officials had then rejected the daily’s claim saying the figures had not been finalised.
Data released by the ministry of statistics and programme implementation in May showed that 7.8% of all employable urban youth are jobless, while the share in rural areas was 5.35%. Overall, joblessness among Indian men stood at 6.2%, and 5.7% among women.