PM Modi’s jobs problem threatens quest to lower inequality in India

PM Modi's jobs problem threatens quest to lower inequality in India thumbnail
By Jeanette Rodrigues

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has a jobs problem.

He swept to power three years ago promising India’s poor and middle classes he’d restore their “dignity” after years of swelling inequality, with job creation central to his pitch. But now, the jobs market has been slugged by last November’s shock cash ban and July’s imposition of a goods and services tax.

And things look like they’re about to get worse: India is set to see a further 30 percent-to-40 percent reduction of jobs in the manufacturing sector compared with last year, according to TeamLease Services Ltd., one of the country’s biggest recruitment firms. While other surveys aren’t quite so bleak, they also suggest Modi is a long way from creating the 10 million jobs a year needed to keep up with his young and rapidly expanding workforce.

The opposition — in disarray since losing to Modi — is dialing up its criticism as it eyes elections due in 2019.

“If India cannot give the millions of people entering the job market employment, anger will increase, and it has the potential to derail what has been built so far,” Rahul Gandhi, heir-apparent to the main opposition Indian National Congress party, said in a speech at the University of California, Berkeley, on Sept. 11. “That will be catastrophic for India and the world beyond it.”

Gandhi is the son and grandson of previous prime ministers, and could well be Modi’s direct opponent at the next vote.



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