Congress President Rahul Gandhi today slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi over an unreleased statistical report, which said India’s male workforce had shrunk for the first time since 1993-94. The report pointed both to job losses and fewer employment opportunities, citing an unreleased survey from the National Sample Survey Office or NSSO.
The lack of jobs for the country’s increasing population of young adults has been one of the key election issues for the Congress.
“India’s PM is a joke,” said Rahul Gandhi in a tweet today, alleging the Centre’s policies were responsible for the destruction of one crore jobs in 2018.
The report said fewer men were employed in 2017-18, compared to 30.4 crore in 2011-12, when the last survey was held. The report says data from the survey showed an employment loss of 4.3 crore in rural areas and 0.4 crore in urban areas.
This latest report comes months after a previous report, also from the NSSO, which said the country’s unemployment rate rose to a 45-year-high in 2017-18. The government had then went into damage control after opposition leaders, including Mr Gandhi, attacked the government.
“NoMo Jobs”, “#HowsTheJobs,” Mr Gandhi had then tweeted, modifying a popular dialogue “How’s The Josh,” from Bollywood hit “Uri”.
Several government officials, including NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant, had refuted the report, saying internal analysis showed the government was “creating 7.8 million jobs.”
The report was not released despite being vetted by the National Statistical Commission in December, allege two non-independent members who quit the data collating body shortly after.
One of them, acting chairman PC Mohanan, had cited the delay in the report’s release as the reason for his departure.
The jobs data assumed significance as this was the first comprehensive assessment of the employment scenario in the country after the notes ban in November 2016, another move by the government that drew an avalanche of opposition criticism.
Mr Gandhi cited the notes ban again today. “One fine morning, he (Modi) got up and decided to carry out demonetisation. Is this a joke? Destroying people’s lives,” Mr Gandhi said at a rally in Manipur.
Weeks ago, over 100 economists and social scientists cited apprehensions of political interference in statistical data in India and called for the restoration of “institutional independence” and integrity of statistical organisations.
“It (statistical machinery) was often criticised for the quality of its estimates, but never were allegations made of political interference influencing decisions and the estimates themselves,” they said in an appeal.
The appeal was dubbed by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to be a “fake campaign” by “compulsive contrarians”, a term used by the finance minister to describe those he claims spread contradictory information.