Union Ministers Piyush Goyal and Prakash Javadekar today rejected claims of largescale unemployment in the country, says that unrelated issues cannot be cited to arrive at such a conclusion.
Mr Goyal -- who is in charge of the Railways portfolio -- recalled a recent instance of his ministry receiving over 15 million applications for a handful of job vacancies. "Such data is often used to highlight the high rate of unemployment. But the sheer volume of people applying for government jobs in the country should not be seen as a sign of rising unemployment. It is the lure of employment security irrespective of performance levels that attracts people to government jobs," he said at a workshop on jobs and livelihoods organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) on Tuesday.
Mr Javadekar, the Union Minister for Human Resource Development, went a step further by remarking that people "who choose not to work" cannot be considered unemployed. "There is no system to collect data from the unorganised sector, the self-employed and a large section of the female population who do not work by choice. Are they unemployed? There are various aspects to this that need to be looked into," he said.
He backed Mr Goyal's claim, saying that there was a need to understand the "craze" for government jobs. "We have to find out why people with post-graduate degrees apply for sweeper jobs in the government," Mr Javadekar said.
Although both the ministers maintained that the government has provided enough jobs in the last five years, they admitted to not having the data to prove it. Their claim comes amid allegations by opposition leaders -- especially Congress president Rahul Gandhi -- that the government has not been able to generate even a fraction of the employment opportunities promised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the run-up to the last Lok Sabha elections.
Both Mr Javadekar and Mr Goyal said that current labour data takes only those in the organised sector into account, and there is no mechanism to represent increasing alternative job opportunities and emerging sectors that encourage self-employment.
The Railway Minister also stressed on the need to upgrade existing administrative mechanisms for ensuring complete "honesty" in performance reviews. "In the current system, I write appraisals for people I have worked with through the year and then hand it back to them to check. This goes down the line till the bottom of the pyramid. What can I write in that? I have to work with the same person throughout the year," he said, clarifying that the assessee cannot be shown the review in ideal circumstances.
(With inputs from PTI)