While the Indian Railways is already one of the country’s biggest employers, the scope of creating one million jobs is immense, said Union Minister of Railways and Coal Piyush Goyal
at the World Economic Forum’s India summit on Thursday.
“We have the potential to create no less than a million jobs around railways if we can provide an enabling environment,” said Goyal.
Giving an example, he said: “There are 2,000 railway stations that don’t have a booking office. So, rather than having a ticketing office, why not encourage a local entrepreneur from the village to book tickets and earn a commission.”
However, the problem is that the system is slow, causing delays and reduces focus on costs and efficiency, the minister pointed out. As a consequence, investments are not as effective as desired.
The minister stressed that transformative results are possible but “we need to change the mindset”.
“The investments in the pipeline can alone create thousands of jobs. We can also monetise our real estate. That will also create many opportunities,” Goyal said.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) should help reignite stalled projects by creating a framework for restarting them, Goyal added. Employment topped the agenda at the India Economic Summit.
Other panellists at the session titled ‘Creating Indian Narratives’ also stressed on the need to create jobs to absorb the millions that are entering the labour force each year.
Touching on the rise in disparities, Bharti Enterprises Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal said it was worrying that companies were cutting down on jobs. He called on businesses to be “a source of inclusiveness”.
Panellists at the session also felt that in the current international environment, time was right for India to step-up on the global arena.
“Today there is no clear leadership in the world. There was a time when the US was leading the way, but that is missing today. India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi can fill that void. It can drive the global narrative,” said Mittal. Take, for instance, the Paris climate accords.
“India has taken the lead in climate issues by committing to that was far in excess of what was hoped from it. At a time when the developed world talks about raising barriers to trade, India needs to take the leadership role and talk about openness,” Mittal added.