How India's Job Data Sparks Election Debate Between Modi and Congress
How India's Job Data Sparks Election Debate Between Modi and Congress

As India nears the end of its extensive election period, employment issues have become a major topic of debate. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his ruling BJP party highlight positive employment trends, while the opposition, led by Congress's P. Chidambaram, raises doubts and asks critical questions.

In a recent interview with The Economic Times, PM Modi, aiming for a third term, emphasized job growth in India. "Look at the indicators proving job generation. The number of individual taxpayer returns more than doubled from 3.36 crore in 2013-14 to 8.18 crore in 2023-24," Modi stated.

Modi pointed to Employee Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) data, showing over 6 crore new subscribers in the last seven years, indicating increased youth employment. "PLFS data reveals that between 2017 and 2023, the worker population ratio rose to over 56%, and unemployment dropped to a historic low of 3.2%," he added. He also highlighted efforts to create not just jobs but job creators over the past decade.

Congress Challenges Modi's Employment Claims

The Congress party, however, urged PM Modi to release data supporting his claims, particularly about the digital economy's rapid growth and job creation. P. Chidambaram, a senior Congress leader and former finance minister, posed several questions on social media.

Chidambaram referenced Modi's claim that the digital economy grew 2.4 times faster than the overall economy between 2014 and 2019, creating 6 crore jobs. He asked whether the PM would make the data public, why the analysis stopped at 2019, and the total job creation from 2014 to 2019. He also questioned the high unemployment rate among graduates and the job placement struggles of IIT graduates.

BJP, Opposition, and India's Unemployment Issue

The opposition frequently cites unemployment and inflation as major issues, criticizing the Modi government for not effectively addressing them. Earlier this year, amidst claims of rising unemployment, Modi asserted that his government had created 1.5 times more jobs than the previous UPA administration. He highlighted the transparency and speed of the recruitment process under his government compared to the corruption and delays during the Congress-led UPA regime.

Dispute Over Youth Unemployment Data

India recently disputed an International Labour Organization (ILO) report claiming 83% youth unemployment. The report, released during the general election, sparked controversy against the Modi government. India challenged the report, citing inconsistencies and a failure to account for international mobility and gig economy workers.

The labor ministry countered that youth unemployment (ages 15-29) was 5% in 2022, down from 7% in 2019, while adult unemployment (ages 30-59) remained at 1% in both 2019 and 2022.

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