Read­ers' Lounge

The book presents with in­sights, ex­pla­na­tions and pos­si­ble so­lu­tions to the ag­gra­vat­ing jobs cri­sis in In­dia.

India Business Journal - - CONTENTS -

Catch up with new book launches - The Jobs Cri­sis In In­dia

- Ly­ing For Money

- When Coal Turned Gold

If you have read about self-driv­ing cars, blockchain and the in­ter­net of things (IoT), reg­is­tered for a mas­sive open on­line course (MOOC), con­sid­ered deal­ing in cryp­tocur­ren­cies, or asked Alexa to play your favourite song, the chances are that you are one of the select few In­di­ans ad­just­ing to the re­al­ity of a brave new world, driven by tech­nol­ogy and au­to­ma­tion.

But some­where, you will also ac­knowl­edge the grow­ing dis­quiet in so­ci­ety, where there is job-de­fi­cient growth, ris­ing farm dis­tress and youths from dif­fer­ent com­mu­ni­ties ag­i­tat­ing for job reser­va­tions in gov­ern­ment or the pub­lic sec­tor. Like else­where on the globe, in In­dia too, the worlds of those with skills to han­dle tech­nol­ogy and those with­out are di­verg­ing. This book presents with in­sights, ex­pla­na­tions and pos­si­ble so­lu­tions to the ag­gra­vat­ing jobs cri­sis in In­dia. Ragha­van Ja­gan­nathan com­pre­hen­sively and skil­fully ex­plains the var­i­ous mi­cro- and macro-fac­tors that im­pact the over­all job sce­nario, in­clud­ing the rise of the 'gig' econ­omy, the use of ro­bots, new tech­nolo­gies and ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence (AI) that dis­place hu­man labour on the shopfloor and in the ser­vices sec­tor, and the eco­nomic un­cer­tain­ties that lie ahead.

Cre­at­ing jobs is a ma­jor chal­lenge fac­ing coun­tries, like In­dia, where a ma­jor­ity of the pop­u­la­tion falls un­der the work­ing age. Why new jobs are scarce, and how to cre­ate more of them, how­ever, are ques­tions that usu­ally in­vite un­sat­is­fac­tory an­swers. Se­nior jour­nal­ist and au­thor Ragha­van

Ja­gan­nathan seeks to of­fer the lay-reader a wide sur­vey of the ex­tent of the prob­lem in In­dia, the rea­sons be­hind it and the way for­ward in his new book.

The prob­lem of job cre­ation, Mr Ja­gan­nathan ar­gues, is not some­thing unique to In­dia, which is true. The world as a whole, he states, is flush with a lot of ex­cess cap­i­tal and labour. The own­ers of such ex­cess cap­i­tal, how­ever, are not will­ing to in­vest their money to cre­ate jobs for the masses. Even when they do in­vest their money, the au­thor adds, the jobs that are cre­ated by to­day's cap­i­tal­ists are sim­ply gigs that do not of­fer any kind of job se­cu­rity to work­ers.

The chap­ters are de­signed to de­bate some of the long­known is­sues con­cern­ing In­dia's job mar­ket, most im­por­tantly, the ab­sence of qual­ity data avail­able for a fair assess­ment of the sit­u­a­tion, the prob­lem with the very def­i­ni­tion of 'jobs' in the In­dian con­text. Does sell­ing food on the road­side fall within the def­i­ni­tion of a job? The very per­ti­nent ques­tion of whether it is a 'wage is­sue' or 'job is­sue', given that most peo­ple have some form of liveli­hood but not enough in­come and the age-old de­bate of whether au­to­ma­tion and tech­nol­ogy are a vil­lain or friend in the In­dia-spe­cific em­ploy­ment and un­em­ploy­ment de­bate. The au­thor puts the un­em­ploy­ment rate in the coun­try some­where be­tween 2.2 and 5.6 per cent.

Ar­chaic labour laws de­signed to pro­tect em­ploy­ees from ex­ploita­tive em­ploy­ers are not help­ing mat­ters at a time when cap­i­tal is cheaper than ever. The world of long-term and pre­dictable jobs and ca­reers is shrink­ing. The only peo­ple who will ben­e­fit in this sce­nario are those who are will­ing to con­stantly up­skill, re­learn and re­lo­cate to im­prove their job and in­come prospects. The world is get­ting older de­mo­graph­i­cally, and older peo­ple al­ways find the speed of change dif­fi­cult to cope with. In­dia, with its younger pop­u­la­tion, can do bet­ter. But gov­ern­ment and busi­ness have not got their act to­gether yet.

About the au­thor

Ragha­van Ja­gan­nathan is a se­nior busi­ness and po­lit­i­cal jour­nal­ist with over 42 years of ex­pe­ri­ence. He has served in se­nior ed­i­to­rial po­si­tions in many print pub­li­ca­tions as well as on­line pub­li­ca­tions. He is cur­rently ed­i­to­rial di­rec­tor of the

Swara­jya mag­a­zine.

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