Government think tank Niti Aayog today brushed off an unreleased report from National Sample Survey Office that contended that unemployment was on a four-decade high that has fuelled the latest conflict between the government and the opposition. The government has said the report was incomplete and hence was not released.
"If there was highest unemployment in 5 decades there would have been social chaos," Rajiv Kumar, the vice-chairman of Niti Aayog told NDTV. Dismissing the opposition contention that there are no jobs, he said the "entire budget, in a sense, is about job creation".
His views were supported by his boss, Niti Aayog's Chief Executive Officer Amitabh Kant. "The story of jobs is all over this budget. You cannot have growth without distributed prosperity," Mr Kant said.
The opposition Congress has contended that "jobs" was one of the two words missing from the interim budget, which, they said was the government's "last jumla (political gimmick)" and "political manifesto" before the national elections due by May.
Yesterday, Business Standard newspaper reported that the unemployment rate in the country was at a 45-year-high of 6.1 per cent in 2017-18. The data it quoted was from the National Sample Survey Office's periodic labour force survey.
Two non-government members of the National Statistical Commission, which vets the report, had quit on Tuesday, accusing the centre of withholding its release.
Explaining the situation, Mr Kumar said, "When the (jobs) report came to the government, we realised the data for subsequent quarters was missing. And that's why it was not released".
Noted economist and Bengal finance minister Amit Mitra has accused the government of "lies and data manipulation".
"The way economists look at job creation is how many people are joining the labour force. Yes, growth creates jobs but is it enough? No, there is 6.1% unemployment," he told NDTV today. "In every sector, you have lies and manipulation of data - something you haven't seen in India before," he added.
Congress chief Rahul Gandhi has warned that in the coming days, the government will have to face "surgical strike" from the opposition over a number of issues. The list, he said, would include jobs, the "biggest issue the country is facing, demonetization and corruption, as seen in the Rafale jet fighter deal".