The use and misuse of Economics C. P. Chandrasekhar

When the final session, prior to the impending election, of the current Parliament ended in February, high on the list of the unfinished business of the Modi-led NDA government was its aggressive effort to rewrite the laws regulating wages and employment conditions of workers in India. While opposition by workers’ movements, trade unions (including those aligned to the ruling BJP), the parliamentary opposition and democratic opinion has managed to stall the effort, it is more than likely to be revived by future governments. The conservative legislative push of the NDA was presented not just as an effort at rationalisation that…

The Subversion of MGNREGS Prabhat Patnaik

The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act that brought the MGNREGS into being was a unique piece of legislation in the history of independent India. It stipulated that employment was to be made available on demand, within a fortnight of being asked for, failing which an unemployment allowance had to be paid. True, its scope was confined only to rural areas, and it promised employment only up to 100 days per household per year; but it made employment a right. The fact that it was passed unanimously by parliament, after much deliberation, meant that parliament was in effect creating an economic…

Science and Subterfuge in Economics Jayati Ghosh

Jayati Ghosh points out that “mainstream economics has operated in the service of power”, which has made the subject less relevant and reduced its legitimacy and credibility. Economics needs to become more open to criticism of assumptions, methods, and results. For full article Click Here (This article was originally published in the Project Syndicate on February 14, 2019)

Budgetary Sops Will Do Little to Fix Unemployment and Poverty in India Sunanda Sen

The recent interim budget clearly reflects concerns that a majority of India’s people, especially in the agricultural and informal sector, have experienced hardship despite the on-going and relatively high growth in the economy. Palliatives designed to lessen these hardships include an annual grant of Rs 6,000, which is to be paid in three instalments to farmers owning land upto two hectares. Palliatives for the poor also include a rather unworkable plan of a contributory pension scheme of Rs 3,000 per month for workers in the informal sector. In addition to these two steps, the budget also offers substantial tax relief…

Budget (Interim or Otherwise) 2019 and the Employment Crisis Jayati Ghosh

Unbelievable but true: there is nothing – repeat, nothing at all – in the Budget to deal with the job crisis. This is crazy, since lack of employment (especially for the young) and the problems in agriculture have emerged as the biggest two problems in the Indian economy and society today. It is also politically tone-deaf, since the government should really have been on the back foot on this one, as its suppression of official jobs data (the NSSO Survey of 2017-18) cleared by the National Statistical Commission, had just been exposed. In the circumstances, it was only to be…

The failed promise of employment C. P. Chandrasekhar

As election 2019 approaches, the Modi government, damaged by agrarian distress, is also being challenged by evidence that its record on employment generation has been extremely poor. To recall, in its campaign during the 2014 election which brought it back to power, the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) promised to create 10 million jobs every year. The best source of information on employment we currently have is the privately conducted (and heavily priced) Consumer Pyramids Household Survey undertaken by the Centre for Monitoring the Indian Economy (CMIE). These figures are available from 2016 from a sample of more than 170,000…

A Curious Divergence C.P. Chandrasekhar and Jayati Ghosh

As is widely recognised, India’s economic growth since the 1990s has largely been on account of an expansion of the services sector, in which exports are seen as having played an important role. The rise in the share of services in GDP was particularly sharp after 1996-97 amounting to 6.8 percentage points over the subsequent ten years as compared with just 1.9 percentage points during the previous ten years. In the event, services as a group came to dominate the Indian economy, accounting for more than half its GDP. The official Economic Survey 2013-14 noted that: "India has the second…

India’s Electronics Manufacturing Sector: Getting the Diagnosis Right Smitha Francis

The Indian government has announced several policy measures aimed at promoting domestic electronics manufacturing as part of its “Make in India” initiative (2014). A casualty of incoherent policy regimes for nearly three decades, the electronics industry appears to be receiving some focused attention. The efforts began after the National Policy on Electronics (NPE), drafted by the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (Deity) in 2012, highlighted the abysmally low level of value addition in domestically produced electronic products, which ranged just between 5% and 10% in most cases at the time (NPE 2012). Instead, electronics manufacturers appear to prefer importing…

Changes in the Structure of Employment in India Yoshifumi Usami and Vikas Rawal

Slow growth of employment has been a remarkable feature of economic change in India during the post-liberalisation period. Economic growth over this period has been highly uneven across different sectors and regions. The rate of growth of agriculture and manufacturing sectors has been sluggish for most part of the postliberalisation period. Growth, even in periods during which it increased, was driven primarily by the service sector. It has been primarily located in urban, particularly metropolitan, areas. Trade and foreign investment have played only a marginal role as drivers of economic expansion. Benefits of economic growth have accrued differently across classes,…

Factory workers in India C. P. Chandrasekhar and Jayati Ghosh

Recent data from the Annual Survey of Industries, covering up to 2015-16, provide some interesting insights into the changing nature of industrial employment in India. In the decade up to 2015-16, there was a significant increase in the number of factory workers, by around 40 per cent. This expansion can be dated from around 2005-06 onwards and especially up to 2011-12. This is to be expected, given that that was the period of India’s economic boom, in which both construction and manufacturing industry showed higher rates of investment and output growth. While the aggregate numbers still remain low for an…