There’s too little data on jobs, which makes it difficult to check for growth in these, says Ramesh Abhishek, Secretary of the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP).
That is so for both the government and the private sector, he said at the 33rd India Economic Summit, being jointly organised by the World Economic Forum
and the Confederation of Indian Industry.
“Only 1.74 per cent of all enterprises are taken into consideration by the Labour Bureau which measures growth,” he said at a panel discussion, titled Re-engineering Bureaucracy.
He added that close to four in every person employed in the manufacturing sector continue to be in the informal part of the business. Logistics and retailing sectors contribute a significant number of jobs but aren’t counted either.
Abhishek was making an argument that jobs and job growth were being underestimated but, observed a senior economist, the same argument can be used to say growth is lower than what the government estimates. For, sectors in the informal economy, labour-intensive and cash-dependent, have been disproportionately hit after demonetisation
and then the goods and services tax (GST).
Amitabh Kant, chief executive of the NITI Aayog, pointed to the potential for job creation from start-up entities.
“Home-grown start-ups have employed thousands. While Ola
has created 700,000 entrepreneurs, Uber
has given jobs to 450,000 people who all own their car,” he said.
On infrastructure development, road transport and highways secretary Yudhvir Singh Malik said 2017 would see addition of close to 10,000 km of highways.
“India has 5.2 million km of roads, across categories. Three years back, only 91,000 or 2.1 per cent were national highways. That has increased to 115,000 km,” he said. Despite a miniscule share of roads being categorised as national highways, almost 40 per cent of interstate traffic courses through these, he said. The government plans 250,000 km of these highways.
Capacity addition is expected in the railways as well, Railway Board
chairman Ashwani Lohani
said. “The average speed of passenger trains is 40-50 km an hour, while that of freight trains is 23 km an hour. This has to change,” he added.
As in other sectors, infrastructure in the railways would be updated through new technology and data. On this note, Aruna Sundararajan, information technology secretary, said big data should be leveraged. “We haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of data — the new oil of the 21st century,” she said.