Without leaving job creation to market forces, India needs to grow at 9 per cent consistently for the next eight years to achieve near-full employment by 2017, a high-powered government panel has said.
The country will need policies with focus on unorganised sectors, employing 94-98 per cent of the workforce, the National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector (NCEUS) said in its report submitted to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh yesterday.
It said without changing basic policies “we shall have to wait till about 2017 for a near full-employment situation, only if our economy grows at 9 per cent (on) average”.
The commission, headed by noted economist Arjun Sengupta, said, “Market forces alone may produce a high rate of expansion of India’s GDP, but for expanding employment a well-designed set of policies and programmes will have to be adopted and implemented.”
It said the share of informal workers in the workforce is not likely to decline. “Hence, the problems of quality employment will continue to persist,” it said.
The NCEUS, appointed in September 2004, completed its term yesterday, almost coinciding with the UPA government’s tenure.
India’s GDP after growing at 9 per cent, declined in the last fiscal due to the global downturn.
The NCEUS said although India witnessed an impressive growth of GDP between 1993-94 and 2004-05, the benefits “seem to have bypassed the overwhelming majority of the population”.
It found that the growth of employment during the decade from 1993-94 to 2004-05 declined significantly to 1.85 per cent from the previous 10 years of 2.03 per cent.
“There has been a similar decline in the growth rate of wages and average earnings of the workers between 1993-94 and 2004-05 compared with the previous decade,” the commission said.
There was very little expansion in employment and enhancement in earning capacity of the poor and vulnerable section of the population during the period, it added.
“Some programmes such as National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme have to be implemented as entitlement of workers with proper social auditing and financial provisioning. They need to be extended to the urban areas as well,” it said.
NCEUS said improvement of the quantity and quality of employment in the unorganised sector would require a new approach and economic planning in India.
“The objective of our planning process from now on should be maximising employment in terms of quantity and quality and social development,” the commission said in its final report.
While some of the recommendations of the earlier reports of the NCEUS have been acted upon by the government and are in advanced stage of examination by the policy makers, the remaining suggestions will have to be examined by the new government.