The Centre’s statistics department on Friday released data showing the country’s unemployment rate at 6.1 percent in 2017-18. This confirms the figure leaked to Business Standard (BS) newspaper in January, which said it was the highest since 1972-73. The data was released a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi was sworn in for his second term. The BJP won by a huge majority in the general elections that ended this month, despite concerns over jobs and weak farm prices. When the BS report came out, the central ministers had strongly refuted it and even alleged that the data were misleading. Now that its own agency has confirmed the figure, will those ministers who trashed the BS report apologize to the paper and the people of India?
The unemployment number comes as another set of data released on Friday showed that the economy grew at 5.8 percent in the January-March period, its slowest pace in 17 quarters, and falling behind China’s pace for the first time in nearly two years. Unemployment and the economy had been pitched as major issues by the Congress during the campaign for the national elections. However, the party faced a crushing defeat in the elections, winning just 52 seats in the 545-member Lok Sabha. As the election is over, the reality is dawning on the people of India. Indeed, the economy and unemployment are two big concerns. The BJP under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been given a massive mandate by the people. Its upto the party to fulfill the promises it made to the citizens. The government should start by focusing on fixing the Indian economy. Once the economy is back in good shape, employment generation should be taken care of. These two pressing issues need urgent attention of the new government.