March 9, 2004
In the run up to the 2004 general elections, we are witnessing the most unprecedented and, at the same time, outrageous conduct of an incumbent government in misusing public money to disinform the people. The `Shining India' campaign has consumed multi-hundred crores from the public exchequer to present a one sided distorted picture of the Indian reality. In `Shining India', a tiny miniscule of Indian corporates and entities in the share market `shine', while majority of the teeming millions are engulfed in abysmal darkness.
Therefore, we from the Communist Party of India (Marxist) have decided to come out with a point by point rebuttal of the facts dished out in the advertisements under the `Shining India' campaign. We have named the series "Lies, damned lies and statistics" to indicate the magnitude of the gigantic statistical fraud that the NDA government has perpetrated. We start the series today with the employment sector which underlines the severest crisis facing largest sections of the Indian people.
The manner in which the Planning Commission has conducted itself is unprecedented and completely contrary to the spirit of cooperative federalism. The Planning Commission is not accountable to any single government -- either the Union or the state -- but to their collective totality -- the National Development Council. But, this time around, the Planning Commission has acted in the most brazenly partisan manner to participate in the `Shining India' campaign and supplemented the efforts of the NDA government in reinforcing the myth that they are trying to weave around the campaign. The Commission has particularly used completely unreliable data so much so as they have never ever been used in official documentation to downplay the enormality of the NDA government's failure in creating "one crore additional employment every year" while in office.
We believe that election is a high point in the parliamentary system. And, democracy is all about holding the incumbent government to account and subject its record of performance to the most rigorous scrutiny. Through the present series, we will venture to do exactly this. An atmosphere where glamour and glitz is threatening to overshadow the plight of the people and the burning problems that they are faced with, we seek to unravel the truth, distinguishing the myth of `Shining India' from the stark Indian reality.
Is India Really Shining?
Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics
The Hollow Claims of the NDA
The NDA promised to create 1 crore jobs per year during the last Lok Sabha elections.
The Planning Commission has claimed that the target has been nearly achieved with 84 lakhs employment opportunities created on an average per year between 1999-2000 and 2002-2003. This increase in employment shown by the Planning Commission is based upon a thin sample survey (58th NSS round), which is unreliable. This is for the first time that a government has claimed its achievements on the employment front on the basis of thin sample surveys of the NSSO, which cannot provide a correct estimate of the employment situation due to its sample bias. Even the Economic Survey does not use this thin sample data. The last large sample survey of the NSSO had reported a rise in the total unemployment rate from 5.99 in 1993-94 to 7.32 in 1999-00. The use of misleading statistics points to the fact that the government has more to conceal on the employment front.
There are glaring discrepancies between the employment estimates of the thin sample survey and the output performance of the economy. For instance the thin sample survey shows an increase in employment of men in rural India during July to December 2002 – the very months when severe drought swept across the country.
The thin sample surveys, which show an annual average increase in employment by 84 lakhs from 1st Jan 2000 to 1st Oct 2002, also show a decline in employment by 90 lakhs between 1st Jan 2002 and 1st Oct 2002. The same surveys also show that in rural India the number of employed youth (15-29 age group) per 1000 persons has come down from 741 to 738 for males and from 400 to 334 for females between the period 1st Jan 2002 to 1st Oct 2002. If the NDA government claims that the figure of 84 lakhs for average annual job creation is correct, it has to explain the massive fall in employment between 1st January and 1st October 2002.
The Hard Facts about the Employment Situation
Ministry of Labour reports a total decline of 8.34 lakhs jobs in the organized sector between 1998 and March 2002, out of which 6.52 lakhs jobs were lost in the public sector alone. This implies that during the tenure of the NDA government the proportion of workers in the unorganized and informal sector has risen. There are more people competing for low paying and insecure informal sector jobs in our country today than before this government assumed power.
Economic Survey, 2002-03 shows that our agricultural sector, which gives employment to more than 56 per cent of our working population, has experienced reductions in output in two out of the four years between 1999-00 and 2002-03. Moreover, there is a fall in the employment generation capacity of agricultural output growth after the mid-90s as suggested by the NSS estimates. From the mid-1990s onwards a one percentage point growth in agricultural output resulted in about 0.13 percentage point growth in employment as against 0.4 percentage point growth in employment experienced during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Rural unemployment therefore must have gone up during the tenure of the NDA government.
Economic Survey, 2002-03 also shows a reduction in employment growth rate in the small-scale industries from 4.03 per cent in 1999-2000 to 3.55 percent in 2001-2002. With unemployment increasing in the most labour-intensive sectors of the economy, i.e. agriculture and small-scale industries, the claim of having nearly achieved the 1 crore jobs creation target seems farcical.
Fund allocation for the employment generation schemes by the Central government has experienced a reduction in absolute terms during the NDA regime. The fund utilization rate has also fallen sharply. Only around 50% of the job creation target was achieved under the Sampurna Grameen Rozgar Yojana in 2001-02 and 2002-03. Central allocations for the Swarnajayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojona (SGSY) [data source: website of the Ministry of Rural Development] and Swarna Jayanti Sahari Rozgar Yojana (SJSRY) [data source: website of the Ministry of Urban Development and Poverty Alleviation] had been drastically cut by Rs. 523.50 crores and Rs. 80.64 crores respectively between 1999-00 and 2001-02. Cut in allocations on employment generation programmes in the face of growing unemployment exposes the anti-development character of the NDA government.