The fourth phase of elections has drawn to a close. At this stage, there are two predominant messages that stand out –
, the Indian National Congress’ (INC) grand plan to introduce a variation of the minimum income scheme that would assure poorest families Rs 6000 a month; and the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) focus on national security and why it is important for India to give a strong message to those trying to break us up. These two messages have heavily overshadowed all other messages. And, yet these are not binary topics. It is not about a one or the other. one is NYAY
At the core any government’s most fundamental role is to provide physical security. They are supposed to ensure that people can go about their everyday jobs without fear of being attacked. And most countries, including India, manage to provide this most of the time. Ultimately, terror attacks are the exception to life at large. Not the rule. As societies evolve, the kinds of security that need to be provided increase. Economic security being one key plank. The countries of the early European Union would not have risen from the ashes of the destruction wrought by the Second World War, if there were no safety net. Wages, employment, and a safety net not just allowed immense progress and development, but also maintained relative peace for 75+ years. Minimum Income Guarantee is a policy that no government in the world can choose to disregard in a world where more efficient ways of producing goods, and serving customers, are enabled by machines. India too will adopt it in the near future, irrespective of which government is in power.
Given that neither national security nor economic safety are negotiable, the question to ask is how future governments will pay for both. With
, touching almost Rs 83 lakh crore, there isn’t much place for even more deficit financing. Also, a large chunk of the defence budget – 42 percent - is consumed by salaries and pensions; leaving little over for desperately needed investment in modernising both the armed forces and the national security apparatus. the Indian debt up by 50 percent in the last 5 years
The answer is fairly simple. India needs job creation on a war footing. One of the major failures of the last government has been the inability to create jobs. The confusion on the data has just compounded the problem of knowing what are the unemployment rates. More acute is the rate of graduate unemployment. As per the
by State of Working India report 2019 Centre for Sustainable Employment at Azim Premji University, the unemployment rate in 2018 stood at 4.9 percent for men, and 14.2 percent for women. The figures are even worse when it comes to graduate unemployment. As per the report, 9.7 percent of all male graduates, and 34 percent of all female graduates have not yet found a job. Even if we discount half the unemployed women to societal reasons – their families won’t let them work – it is still a lot of unemployed.
This is the challenge for the next government. The creation of jobs. And, with this comes a linked challenge – that of making people employable. Just as employment has to be created on a war footing, so does the government need to appoint a Skills Czar (or Czarina) to tackle the issues of acute unemployability.
As skilled jobs get created, and more people get into the employment space, they hopefully will get into the tax bracket. Even if they don’t, their expenditure on goods and services will attract a tax, and the rather depleted Indian coffers will start filling up. The increased income will act as an accelerant to the economy, and the economy itself will grow, creating more jobs, more taxes, and more investment on things that are in party manifestos.
In the campaigns Rahul Gandhi has focused on unemployment and promised policies that create employment while
are more focused on defence and building up infrastructure. Neither has particularly focused on skills needed to get jobs. The challenge for the next government is not just to create more graduates but create graduates with skills that land them jobs. Modi’s speeches Harini Calamur writes on politics, gender and her areas of interest are the intersection of technology, media, and audiences.