July , 2020
Who let the jobs out?
11:19 am

Shivanand Pandit

The Covid-19 pandemic has created devastation. According to the International Labour Organization's (ILO), over 2.5 crore jobs across the world would be vulnerable  due to the spread of the virus. The ILO has described Covid-19 as the worst global crisis since the Second World War. A major chunk of the world’s informal workers is from developing countries and they will be affected severely.

The second most populated country, India, is no exception. According to the Global Economic Prospects Report released by the World Bank recently, India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is poised to shrink by 3.2% in 2020-21 and in 2021-22, it will be less than what it was in 2019-20. In general, incomes will drop and jobs will vanish.

Job destruction numbers triggered by the lockdown are shocking and dreadful. More jobs were lost in India than anything ever noted in the country’s economic history. The Indian Society of Labour Economics has stated that loss of employment is the worst outcome of the Covid-19 disaster. Due to decline in demand as well as the disruption of workforce faced by corporate entities, unemployment went up to 24% in May 2020. This also caused a Gross Value-Added (GVA) loss of more than 9% for the Indian economy for that month.

To rub salt into the wound, five big organisations in the consumer internet space in India, namely, Uber India and South Asia, Ola, Zomato, Swiggy, and have decided to reduce jobs and together, they have approximately lessened 4,440 jobs because of shrinkage in their businesses.


Sector-wise analysis


In spite of the dismal economic condition, few sectors are likely to bounce back fast. There will be an affirmative trend in the food and beverage segment and employment in this sector could remain encouraging. Although exports of apparel and footwear will be low, positive domestic demand will maintain the charm of employment in this sector. In the power sector, due to tightening of credit and launching of new power generating and transmission stations, employment is likely to see an upward tendency. In the pharmaceutical sector, due to invention of new medicines or vaccines, advanced research and development activities and increase in the scope of generics, employment will increase. In the tourism sector, although international tourism will be slow, increase in domestic tourism is likely to fetch employment opportunities. This trend will help hotels and restaurants as well. In the chemicals and petrochemical sector, due to economical crude prices and easy borrowings from financial institutions, employment is expected to be stable. In the telecom sector, although call dropout rate is likely to increase due to more demand, new technological developments like 5G may lead to increased employment.


Few sectors will bear the brunt. In the retail sector, employment will be hit by the change in the purchasing style of consumers from offline to online. In the aviation sector, due to postponement of purchase of new planes and cancellation of existing orders, employment will be badly hit and both white and blue collared employees have to bear the heat. In the education sector, due to many disruptions such as more demand for online learning, sweeping changes in the curriculum and skilled faculty requirement, employment will be low. In the automobile sector, due to low demand caused by postponement of purchase of vehicles from the customers, employment will be hit. In the real estate sector, because of low demand, cautious buying and requirement of more time for the market to stabilize, employment in the sector will drop significantly. In the metal and mining sector, although demand for iron, steel, coal aluminum is likely to increase, due to huge credit problems and usage of large number of unorganised and unskilled labour, employment will be hit.


Will acchhe din come?

As we all know, there is enormous and exceptional economic agony ahead. Before he came to power, Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised to create one crore jobs to erase youth unemployment in India. However, the data from the official labour bureau has a different story to tell.  The Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan has been launched recently. However, proper examination discloses that there is nothing new in the policy and 25 prevailing schemes have been bundled together. On the whole, the scheme does not offer any formidable elucidation to the massive problem of unemployment in urban and rural India.

As a final point, the government has to put basics in place. One of these is having a power packed national employment policy. Policy and politics will have to play an imperative role to lighten the pain. Dirty political games hamper economic revival. Good politics can guarantee that the anguish of the masses is curtailed. Welfare schemes should not be used as a tactic to give advantage to the ruling party in the forthcoming polls. Otherwise, the Indian demographic dividend may turn into a worrisome demographic burden.


The writer is a tax specialist, financial adviser, guest faculty, and public speaker based in Goa.

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