There is excitement in the air which accompanies a clear touch of depression in certain segments of the economy. This is understandable in a country of the complexity, diversity and range of economic activities like India. A reductionist approach could reduce the discussion to job creation or a reference to startups. Both of these captions are as simplistic as they are misleading. They are simplistic because the definition of a 'job', as of now in India, goes a begging. Presumably a job function has various attributes which includes adding value to a through put for which a person is compensated in some manner. At the end of this process the person himself is the beneficiary. This may be in cash or kind. (For those hung up on digitization cash may be read as monetary transaction).
We come across a definitional problem here. Illustratively is a housewife employed? When she saves through diligent, mindful or careful housekeeping or frugally scientific cooking, the total worth of the family increases. There is more money to spend and what is saved can be spent on visible and identifiable indices of prosperity. Yet it is painful, but true, that housewives are not listed or for that matter are not even counted as employed.
The problem is compounded when one looks at the data on job surveys. It is now being increasingly recognized that the headcounts of the informal sector hardly ever figure in the statistics of the gainfully employed.
This in turn reflects on the calculation of the per capita earning of the Indian population. A look at the figures available in the public domain establishes that comprehensive employment data in the Indian context continues to be elusive. The quarterly employment surveys which began in 2002 are hugely misleading. There is a problem of categories and the base year is itself having doubtful indicators of employability.
The most optimistic estimates have put the annual job creation broadly around 10 lakhs which is palpably short of the number of people entering the job market.
Now people are talking of designing surveys and executing them for a more fulsome assessment of productive use of time for value addition and income generation. Call them 'jobs' if one wishes to. The question remains of the focus on, whether one should work on labor intensive industries or have a more comprehensive understanding of the impact of technology on tasks to be done.
Let us look at further complexities. There is the issue of classifying employment which is part time, casual, effective in one part of the season in one sector and in another season in another sector.
A mechanism of collecting the data on the income of a worker from Bihar who works in a factory in Ludhiana and goes back to his village at the time of harvesting is as complex as assessing the number of individuals with who confirm to identifiable financial integrity in public life.
The problem continues in its walk through complex phenomenon. There is a simplistic correlation scene between investment & job creation. The pride of place is taken by the huge drumming up which takes place for foreign direct investment.
The innovation which takes the prize for job creation is the effort of the government to create jobs where none are needed and pay people for pointless efforts. This is also called an Employment Guarantee Scheme. Few, even consider this a remedy!
It is difficult to engage with this issue unless it is recognized that economic theory also has a habit of taking on the values of the context, where it originates. Economic theories of a post industrialized era in locales of first world primacy, cannot be applied in a context of agricultural and pre agricultural economy of the third world states.
What is required is a set of scientific economic categories representing the philosophy of life of the modes of economic contribution & worthwhile efforts, indigenous to the location where measurements are attempted. This need not, be sneered at because this is possibly a real route to solving the enigma of alien categories and irrelevant method mounted on an ethos which otherwise is quite robust and kicking.
If the platform has a problem, it is a problem of willful denial of opportunities to the needy who wish to work. Use of faster modes of production by a few to the elimination of many because the former control the levers of power, can be harbinger of much social turmoil. It doesn't matter whether it is labeled monarchy, oligarchy, democracy or totalitarianism the basic right of a human being is the right to earn with dignity. Accessibility to resources should be available to the best talent which can build upon the opportunities. The thought is doable, provided the approach is accepted by those who matter/are affected by the in congruencies.