At a time when Narendra Modi government is boasting about its ‘game-changing’ decisions in last five years in the run-up of the crucial Lok Sabha Elections next month, a media report has reignited the job data debate. According to an Indian Express report published on Wednesday, number of males in workforce down went down by 1.8 Crore in 2017-18 versus 2011-12. It should be noted that this comes from the same NSSO periodic labour force survey that the Modi government has not published so far. “The decline in actual numbers occurred, again for the first time since 1993-94, in both rural and urban male workforce. The slide is steeper — 6.4% — in the rural areas compared to a 4.7% setback observed in the urban sector,” the Indian Express report said.
Earlier in January, financial daily Business Standard had published the findings from the same ‘buried’ NSSO survey had revealed that joblessness stood at 7.8% in urban areas compared with 5.3% in rural areas. The data is significant because this was the first comprehensive assessment of the employment situation conducted after Modi government’s November 8, 2016 decision of demonetization, the report said.
The January report coincided with the shock exit of two external members from the National Statistical Commission. The two external members had quit over their differences with the Centre over job data. "We found that the commission was not very effective in discharging whatever it was supposed to do. And in recent times we thought we were being sidelined or we are not taken very seriously," PC Mohanan was quoted as saying by NDTV. Mohanan had also said that the government's continuous delay in releasing the "final" NSSO report on jobs forced him to step down from his position.
Later, the government had issued a point-by-point clarification saying that, “The members had expressed certain concerns on the functioning of the Commission including release of the labour force survey results and the Back Series of GDP. These concerns were not expressed by the Members in any of the meetings of the Commission in the last few months.”