New Delhi: Few months into the most-awaited Lok Sabha elections, a report by The Business Standard has sparked a major controversy. Even though the data on unemployment has not been officially released, the business standard claimed to have procured the copy of the National Sample Survey Office’s (NSSO) periodic labour force survey (PLFS).
If figures from National Sample Survey Office’s (NSSO) Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) are to be believed, in 2017-18, unemployment was at an unprecedented high of 6.1%. PLFS is based on the field-work done between July 2017 and June 2018.
Even before the scheduled release of Annual Employment Survey 2017-18, two of the National statistic commission (NSC) members, including the acting chairman, resigned, agitated over the fact that they had already approved the report, but the government withheld it for unknown reasons. This move by the members of NSC sparked a major controversy.
According to the report, from 2011-12 to 2017-18, the rates of joblessness among rural men between the age of 15-29 years increased by three times, from 5% to 17.4%. In rural areas, the unemployment rate for women rose from 4.8% in 2011-12 to 13.5% in 2017-18. The picture is not rosy in the urban areas as well. Unemployment for men in cities has risen from 8.1% in 2011-12 to 18.7% in 2017-18. For women, the rise in unemployment is nearly double, with 13.1% in 2011-12 to 27.2% in 2017-18. The Labour Force Participation Rate (LFPR) has declined from 39.5% in 2011-12 to 36.9% in 2017-18.
The figures show that the unemployment crisis in the country right now are alarming and brings forth the failure of the incumbent government to formulate policies, as it is the first survey brought out post demonetisation.
The major issue that arose out of this is not the shocking figures but the fact that the government chose to withheld it like other reports that have either gone missing from the website or have not been ever released in the public domain.
Scrapping down the allegations of withholding the data, the government came out with a statement on January 30th, 2019, stating,
“NSSO is processing the quarterly data for the period of July 2017 to December 2018and the report will be released thereafter.”
In an interview to the quint, NITI Aayog Vice Chairperson Rajiv said that the data in the reported NSSO survey was not verified, and that it was not correct to use this data to talk about joblessness.
According to a research conducted by Indiaspend.com, a whole gamut of other government statistics have not been updated or even made public. This includes data on crime, employment, farmer suicide, caste and agricultural wages.
Apart from the job front, data on crime which is annually released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), has not been released from the past two years.
Similarly, the data on accidents and suicides has not been put forth from the past four years.
Shockingly, even after constant reminders by the Reserve Bank of India, data on foreign Direct Investment, which is released by Department of Industrial Policy and Production (DIPP) quarterly, has not been released since June 2018.
These relavations are shocking as the lack of data creates economic opacity which prevents businesses and investors from making a right decision. Moreover, lack or absense of data further prevents the Central and State government from making informed decisions regarding policies and governance.