Job Crisis: Time To Get Up And Smell Coffee
The Great Indian Economy is booming, say the number crunchers. They tell us it is the fastest growing economy in the world.
Friends, Countrymen and Citizens of the great democracy of India, lend me your ears. I come to bury some notions not to praise them. The Great Indian Economy is booming, say the number crunchers. They tell us it is the fastest growing economy in the world. Our GDP numbers are through the roof and we’re right up there with China.
The intellectuals will also tell you a thing or two about fiscal deficit and spew so much of economical mumbo jumbo that whatever semblance of argumentative vitriol you had left would evaporate. You’d be convinced that all is hunky, dory in the great land of our civilization except one little thing, many of our youth don’t have much to do except rubbing two stones together and hoping for a fire to come out and engulf their woes.
Now let me discuss another set of numbers. More than 1.2 million youth join our work force every month. Do you really think we have even a quarter of jobs waiting for them? So what do they do after graduating? Open up a business??
Yeah right, the cost of capital is so less, isn’t it and so is the ease of doing business here. A young graduate who gets out of college with dreams in his eyes is left to fend for himself at a time when he knows precious little about the nuts, bolts and machinations of the real world. Our education system doesn’t teach him how to fight it out in the real world, but who cares at least he now knows how to find out the area of an isosceles triangle.
Chances are he has also has heard a lot about some once in a century phenomenon like Steve Jobs and Dr Kalam. Good for him, he believes that when they can overcome all odds, why can’t he. He pushes himself, dusts himself up, reads the quote ‘Winners don’t do different things, they do things differently’. So inspired is he, that he doesn’t come back home that night. He tries to hunt for something day in and day out. But alas!
In the real world, a Steve Jobs is just an aberration, rejection is the norm!! Wish this harsh reality was taught to him earlier. Wish the government had an eye on job creation based reforms.
As an author and now a public speaker, I travel across the length and breadth of the country meeting thousands of students, young managers and even corporate honchos and I can tell you one thing: We’re in a crisis far bigger than the numbers tell us. And the worst part is that not many are thinking about it.
The root of the problem is that our policy makers, our educators do not understand the real India. They do not have an ear firmly placed to the ground.
The ministries have appointed high paying white collared, tuxedo wearing elitists, popularly known as consultants who are Ivy League pass-outs and have thus far been collecting pay cheques from the Big Four, sitting in their ivory towers and air conditioned or should I say, manicured cabins.
They advise the rural ministry, the government and our ever efficient bureaucracy on ways to employ the youth who are languishing in the obscurity of the forgotten lanes in the underbelly of our villages. What a brutal irony!
Truth is that every member of our policy think tank should be there not on his data crunching and ppt embellishing credentials but on the basis of his understanding of our diaspora, our aspirations, and our problems. Any fancy reform like demonetisation should not be shoved down the throats of a country where the informal sector far outweighs the other. Hundreds and thousands of workers were laid off, at that time.
I know of small businesses which shed an average of 2-3 jobs during that period and its cascading effects are still being felt. We need policy makers who rely on their experience and proven track record rather than the ones relying on some statistically driven analytics model which inspires awe but delivers precious little on the ground.
Spare a thought for our 5 million plus small businesses. They’re the dreamers, strivers and achievers of our land. Every single day they get up and come to work with a hope in their heart that this would be their day of reckoning, their day of reaping dividends and profits. Their spirits need to be bolstered. They’re the driving engine of our economy.
Yes, the Mudra Yojana is laudable but it’s ineffective if you’re imposing one job killing regulation or compliance after another. GST is another such regulatory compliance which is IT based in a land where millions of shopkeepers are still computer illiterate.
The Indian businessman will now have to file 37 returns an year, do everything in real time from invoicing to accounting. The multiple slabs and the input tax credit system is so complex that it might spell doomsday for the less savvy businessman. Our government is obsessed with bringing everyone in the tax net. Oh yes, black money is evil, tax shouldn’t be evaded.
But you know what, there’s no bigger evil than unemployment. It can whip up a frenzy and hysteria of such mammoth proportions that we cannot even begin to fathom its far reaching consequences. If the government’s effort in increasing its tax payer base is causing a negative disruption resulting in job loss and demand contraction, then it’s not worth it.
The high and mighty politicians , sitting in their ivory towers want to preach about tax compliance to a small businessman who has toiled all his life either warding off harassment from tax officials or fighting a corrupt business environment where commissions and cuts rather than merit help you close deals. Wish our politicians understood India better and focused more on giving impetus to the resilient spirit of our businessmen and then stressed as much on compliance.
The government needs to get its priorities right. So where does this leave us? Well the truth is that we’re in a survivor mode. As a nation, we’re a land of survivors and there’s no reason why we can’t bounce back from here and create good quality jobs for our citizenry. However for that what is needed is a determined government which focus more on encouraging small businesses rather than shoving compliances and regulations down their throats.
We need massive tax cuts much along the lines of what Reagan did in the 80’s in US. It would fire the imagination of the working class and the small businesses. We need to kick start the demand-consumption cycle. We can take care of compliance and regulation later, at least let every Indian have 2 square meals on their plates first.
Companies across the globe should have an incentive for investing in India. The cost of capital must come down heavily, so that our businessmen can compete with their foreign counterparts. Tourism and Manufacturing are sectors begging to be noticed. ‘Make in India’ is a dream we all share but unless we cut down on regulation and give tax breaks to corporates who are hiring large number of our people, we will not be able to catapult manufacturing to the next level.
The culture of entrepreneurship thrives in an environment where even failure is celebrated in a positive spirit. We have a long way to go before we can establish that culture, but then now is the time to start taking steps in that direction. In the end, I would ask all the readers to close their eyes and envision India, the nation of our dreams.
I’m sure, we’ll all imagine growth, prosperity and smiles all across. A land where dreams and aspirations come to fruition. Well the 1st step to all this cosmic goodness and prosperity starts with a decent dignified job in every working hand. It is this empowering and gratifying bestowment which fuels all dreams and hopes galore!! Time for us to now open our eyes and smell the coffee.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house
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