The need to look beyond the Pay Commission
India needs to build state capacity to meet the challenges of the new century
When more than 2.3 million people rushed to apply for just 368 positions for the job of a peon in the Uttar Pradesh government recently, including some with professional qualifications, it was widely seen as an indication of joblessness in the country. While it is correct that the economy has not been able to generate enough quality jobs for a growing workforce, it is also true that the government offers much higher wages, as well as perks, that are not available in most cases in the private sector. The rush to apply for government jobs is thus more a reflection of a massive wage premium at the lower levels of the labour market than sluggish job creation.