Can Kejriwal give 20 lakh jobs in five years in Delhi? – The Hindu

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April 03, 2022 02:03 am | Updated 09:31 am IST – New Delhi
New Delhi
Twenty lakh jobs in five years. The promise made by the Arvind Kejriwal government in its ‘Rozgar Budget’ presented in the Delhi Assembly last week has left economic experts in the city scratching their heads for the right answers.
What’s bothering them the most is the number being targetted — 20 lakh jobs in 5 years means 1000+ jobs a day.
“I saw the budget and I was surprised. What is he [Delhi Finance Minister Manish Sisodia] talking about? It doesn’t make any sense. Over 1,000 new jobs every day is an outrage,” said Santosh Kumar Mehrotra, former professor and chair of Centre for Labour at Jawaharlal Nehru University. “It’s not possible,” he added.
The criticism against the government’s promise ranges from the quality of likely jobs being low level to people already having jobs getting new opportunities.
But experts differed on whether 20 lakh jobs can be generated in five years. Pronab Sen, the first Chief Statistician of India, said there are a lot of hope and assumptions built into the promise of 20 lakh jobs and the current details given by the government are not enough to come to a conclusion.
According to Mr. Sen, the “core idea” of the government is correct. “Delhi is driven by the services sector. What they are trying to do is to build on that,” he said.
Mr. Sen, however, had another concern. “What the government is saying is that today if the turnover is ₹100, it gives job to one person and if the turnover goes to ₹200, a second person gets employment. This is not necessarily correct, because the first person may be able to take care of the ₹200 turnover as well,” he said.
He added that generating 10 lakh jobs is not as black and white as the government says as multiple factors are at play.
An official of the Delhi government said many of the jobs will be of lower ranks but that is the need of the hour as several people employed in such jobs have become unemployed due to the pandemic.
Another official said they have done proper planning and are confident that they will be able to boost consumption and create more jobs.
In his budget speech on March 26, Mr. Sisodia spelt out a range of schemes through which the government plans to generate 20 lakh jobs. These include redevelopment of five iconic markets, redevelopment of non-conforming industrial areas, building a new Electronics City, food hubs and food trucks, and yearly retail and wholesale shopping festivals. The government plans to invest ₹4,500 crore in all such projects over the next five years.
’Displacement of jobs’
Prof. Mehrotra said new jobs will be created only from Electronics City. “The rest is all reshuffling of existing jobs and we will never know how many jobs were actually created.”
“For instance, if there are vendors outside my gate now and if the government creates a hub nearby, then some of them will go there. They [government] have no understanding of how the labour market functions. This is pretension at creating jobs,” Prof. Mehrotra said.
Mr. Sen said whenever new jobs come up, people migrate to them from jobs that are already dying out; that is the nature of all labour markets. But he also said that there could be a displacement of demand when new hubs are created.
“The real question is, if I am a consumer going to a market redeveloped by the government, is my going there an additionality or I am transfering business that should have gone to someone else (if the hub was not there),” he said.
Mr. Sen said if people come from outside to spend money in Delhi due the government’s investment, then it will be an addition. “If it’s the people of Delhi transferring business from one shopping area to another, that is not an addition. If a business is being transferred, it creates jobs at one place but it may lead to a reduction in jobs somewhere else,” he said.
Only unskilled jobs
Prof. Mehrotra said that even people engaged in unskilled labour want a regular job with a salary of ₹40,000-₹50,000 and apart from Electronics City, the jobs proposed in the budget will not attract aspirants with bachelors or postgraduate degrees.
Mr. Sen, too, said that the bulk of the jobs, as per the government’s plan, will be in the unskilled sector such as carrying things, but added that there is nothing wrong with it.
“What they are trying to do is create a cycle. It begins with primary job creation, which will create incomes and this will create further jobs,” he said.
The Delhi government official, however, said, “Many of the jobs that the government will be creating will be high-level ones. For instance, in Gandhinagar Market there are huge wholesalers and we plan to help them with exports. This will create high-rank jobs too.”
Resemblance to Modi
Both Prof. Mehrotra and Mr. Sen pointed out that there were many similarities between the promises made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his speeches and the ones doled out by the AAP government in its latest budget.
“They are echoing exactly what Mr. Modi said — we want to change our youth from job seekers to job creators. Also, just like Modi talks about $5 trillion economy, there is a very strong similarity to the AAP government’s 20 lakh jobs promise,” Mr. Sen said.
What should govt. do?
Prof. Mehrotra said the government should concentrate on building new manufacturing hubs. “If the government had talked about building one manufacturing hub for textiles, one for leather, one for something else, I would have said there is a chance at creating 20 lakh jobs,” he said.
Mr. Sen said the basic idea is right, but in order to make it effective, the government has to put a finger on what is really holding up activities or business at present.
“For instance, if markets are currently not growing is it because they are filthy or because they have no space? There has to be an analysis of what is preventing them from growing,” he said.
Mr. Sen said the government should be investing in “regular source of activity and work” such as film industry, rather than international film festivals, which is mentioned in the budget.
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