New Delhi: Under fire for failing to create enough jobs, finance minister Arun Jaitley took Swami Vivekananda’s help to buttress the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government’s argument for empowering the informal economy, including a reference to pakora sellers.
Jaitley ended his budget speech on Thursday by quoting from Vivekananda’s Memoirs of European Travel: “You merge yourselves in the void and disappear, and let new India arise in your place. Let her arise – out of the peasants’ cottage, grasping the plough; out of the huts of the fisherman. Let her spring from the grocer’s shop, from beside the oven of the fritter seller. Let her emanate from the factory, from marts, and from markets. Let her emerge from groves and forests, from hills and mountains’’.
The Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government has been targeted by the opposition for not generating enough job in a labour market to which an estimated 12 million employment seekers get added each year.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi came under opposition attack after suggesting in a television interview that a pakora (fritter) seller earning Rs200 a day is employed, in his view. The Congress youth wing in Bengaluru protested by frying fritters in the open.
The government on its part has been underling the challenges of limited job creation capacity in the formal economy. To address the vexed issue, it plans to reach out to entrepreneurs, largely in the informal economy, to train, mentor and equip them to join the formal economy and help in creating new jobs, Mint reported on 13 November. These entrepreneurs are typically engaged in businesses ranging from kirana stores to tailoring shops, and are roadside vendors or those who provide sundry services. According to the government, there are around 30 million establishments in India’s informal economy.
“I am sure the New India which we aspire to create now will emerge," Jaitley said.
Concerns have also been expressed over the poor quality of jobs on offer.
According to the International Labour Organisations’s World Employment and Social Outlook report released last month, some 77% of workers in India will have vulnerable employment by 2019. The report added that in India the vulnerable employment level is higher than those of the world or the South Asian region. The report says that of the 535 million-strong labour force in India in 2019, some 398.6 million will have poor quality jobs.