18 million: That's the projected figure for unemployment in India in 2018, according to a UN Labour report. It's a worrying picture, especially for a government that came to power promising to create 1 crore jobs after the UPA's reign of "jobless growth". But now, attempting to finally start delivering on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's electoral promises, the government is planning to introduce the country's first National Employment Policy (NEP).
According to The Economic Times, policy will outline a comprehensive road map for creation of quality jobs across sectors through economic, social and labour policy interventions and is likely to be announced in Budget 2018. The multi-pronged employment policy will not only include incentives for employers to create more jobs, but also introduce reforms to attract enterprises and help medium and small scale industries, which are major job providers.
"The policy will moot fiscal incentives for employers across labour-intensive sectors to create more jobs as well as employees to get engaged in the organised sector as this would fetch them minimum wages and enough social security," a senior government official reportedly told the daily.
In other words, the NEP hopes to address the issue of providing jobs to the 10 million plus youth joining the country's workforce every year while ensuring that most of the job creation takes place in the formal sector. According to the most recent available statistics from the Ministry of Labour and Employment, organised sector employment stood at just 10.1% of total employment (472.4 million) in 2011-12. A majority of the country's 600 million estimated workforce is engaged in informal employment that is not covered by any social security law and, more likely than not, is not even earning the minimum wage.
Recently, Niti Aayog released it's Three-Year Action Agenda for 2017-18 to 2019-20, where it made a case for reforming India's labour laws. "Unless we bring about substantive change either by amending the existing laws or rewriting them afresh, we cannot expect to change the current situation where low-productivity and low-wage jobs dominate the landscape," said the government think-tank. A well-crafted and well-executed NEP would a step in the right direction.
The government is reportedly assessing the current employment situation in the country, including the macroeconomic environment, demographic context and sectoral challenges in employment generation, following which it will set targets and monitor them. Given that the upcoming Budget is the last full one to be presented by the current government before general elections in 2019, it does not have a lot of room to dither if it wants to make the NEP a reality.
(With PTI inputs)