Joblessness on the rise in India
PAPER -3 INDIAN ECONOMIC (UNEMPLOYMENT SECTION)
Why You Should Know?
• After many years of refusing to recognise there is a jobs crisis in India, the government of India, faced with relentless data to the contrary, has now resorted to misinformation.
• Scholars associated with the government have contributed to this effort. Two pieces – “Here’s why it’s V not K”, March 3, 2022 in The Times of India and “A hazy picture on employment in India”, February 1, 2022. Regrettably, both pieces show an inadequacy in understanding the jobs situation.
NSO’s employment-unemployment survey
• As compared to the 8% per annum GDP growth in the period 200414, and 7.5 million new non-farm jobs created each year over 2005 to 2012 (NSO’s employment-unemployment survey), the number of new nonfarm jobs generated between 20132019 was only 2.9 million, when at least 5 million were joining the labour force annually (NSO’s Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS)). The NSO itself states clearly that the two surveys provide comparable data; the claim that those two surveys are not comparable is not correct.
• Unpaid family labour A claim is made that between 2017-18 and 2019-20, the worker participation rate (WPR) and labour force participation rate (LFPR) was rising, showing improvement in the la bour market.
• The next question is: how come these rates were rising, exactly when the economy was slowing down sharply from 2017 to 2020? The reality is that this rise in WPR and LFPR is misleading. It was caused mostly by increasing unpaid family labour, mostly by women.
• The claim that manufacturing employment increased between 2017-18 and 2019-20 by 1.8 million is correct (based on PLFS).
• What this ignores is that between 2011-12 and 2017-18, manufacturing employment fell in absolute terms by 3 million, so a recovery is hardly any consolation.
• Manufacturing as a share of GDP fell from 17% in 2016 to 15%, then 13% in 2020, despite “Make in India’.
• Meanwhile, another argument offered is that GDP in FY22 “could not have returned to pre-COVID FY20 level without workers returning to work and MSMEs recovering too”.
• Clearly, this fails to recognise that organised economic activity could recover without a corresponding increase in unorganised activities, thus cancelling each other out, and still leave the jobless without work, or even less work.
• Second, a fall in urban unemploy. ment after July 2020 to January March 2021 has now been reversed, with urban unemployment rate rising in April-June 2021 back to mid-2020 level, and labour force participation falling again. This is a K-shaped recovery.
• In any case, the authors provide no evidence that MSMEs, that provide most of the non-farm employment, have recovered to pre-COVID levels. Meanwhile, here is the evidence.
The Consortium of Indian Association
• The Consortium of Indian Association (CIA) conducted a survey of over 81.000 micro businesses across Indian in June 2021, two months after the second wave was over. of them 59% reduced their staff compared to pre-COVID levels; 88% respondents had not availed of any government stimulus packages; 28% reported they were unable to get payment dues from their customers from private or government; 64% reported banks were not giving loans.
• Farm employment In any case, the recovery of urban employment till March 2021 clearly ignores that urban employment barely captures a third of total employment.
• Besides, agriculture output may have performed well during COVID, and free rations may have alleviated acute distress.
• This completely ignores that bet ween 2019 and 2020, the absolute number of workers in agriculture increased from 200 million to 232 million, depressing rural wages – a reversal of the absolute fall in farm employment of 37 million between 2005-2012, when non-farm jobs were growing 7.5 million annually, real wages were rising, and number of poor falling. Rising farm employment is a reversal of the structural change underway until 2014.
• Finally, another dubious argument is offered to supplement the claim that organized formal employment is rising, because new registration in employment provident fund rose in the last two years.
• One limitation of EPFO-based payroll data is the absence of data on unique existing contributors. Employees join, leave and then rejoin leading to continuous revisions in EPFO enrolment.
• There has been a massive increase in joblessness of at least 10 million due to COVID-19, on top of the 30 million already unemployed in 2019.
• This happened while the CMIE is reporting the employment rate has fallen from nearly 43% in 2016 to 37% in just four years. Poverty had already increased during pre-COVID times, and increased further post-COVID by all estimates.
Recorded deaths rose to 81 lakh in 2020 from 76 lakh in 2019
PAPER – 2 SOCIAL JUSTICE
Why You Should Know?
• The number of registered deaths increased from 76.4 lakh in 2019 to 81.2 lakh in 2020 and out of the total registered deaths, the share of men and women is 60.2% and 39.8%, respectively, noted a report on “Vital statistics of India based on the civil registration system” for 2020.
• The report added that based on information provided from 34 States and Union Territories, the share of institutional deaths in total registered deaths is 28%.
• India faced its first COVID wave during 2020 and this information released through the report is vital in terms of giving India and all agencies which wants to use these figures for analysis on how health systems need to be best worked with to minimise human tragedy during a pandemic.
The World Health Organization estimate
• WHO estimate The World Health Organization (WHO) is set to release an estimate of COVID deaths, from across the world, during the pandemic period and indicates excess deaths in India.
• The Indian government responded to this earlier saying that it has objection to the report centred on the “methodology adopted for the same”.
• The numbers presented here in this report are the absolute, correct numbers. These are not modelled numbers based on assumptions.
• Found through the pandemic that assumptions and models don’t really work. In fact this report presents us with numbers from every district, male-female break up and age-wise break up of the deaths.
Major Points Of Report
• The COVID deaths have been systematically collected and released by the Health Ministry regularly.
• Compulsory registration He added that the numbers collected and released through this system came from the continuous, permanent, compulsory and universal recording of the vital events (births, deaths, still births).
• The Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969 (Act No. 18 of 1969) provides for the compulsory registration of births and deaths.
• Ideally, an annual report on vital statistics containing more detailed information should have been brought out.
• However, due to limited availability of information contained in the annual reports of some of the States, the report for the year 2020 containing key information of events pertaining to the time period 1st January 2020 to 31st December 2020 has been brought out for the convenience of users.
• Rise in COVID-19 cases Dr. Paul, speaking about the rise in COVID-19 cases again in the country, said that the pandemic was not over yet.
India’s Position on the World Press Freedom Index
PAPER -2 INDIAN POLITY
Why You Should Know?
• India’s ranking in the 2022 World Press Freedom Index has fallen to 150 out of 180 countries, according to the latest report released by the global media watchdog.
• Reporters Without Borders (RSF). In last year’s report, India was ranked 142.
• The top three positions for countries with the highest press freedom were taken by the Nordic trio of Norway (a score of 92.65), Denmark (90.27) and Sweden (88.81).
Objective of this Index?
• RSF is an international NGO whose self-proclaimed aim is to defend and promote media freedom. Headquartered in Paris, it has consultative status with the United Nations.
• The objective of the World Press Freedom Index, which it releases every year, is to compare the level of press freedom enjoyed by journalists and media in 180 countries and territories” in the previous calendar year.
• The RSF defines press freedom as “the ability of journalists as individuals and collectives to select, produce, and disseminate news in the public interest independent of political, economic, legal, and social interference and in the absence of threats to their physical and mental safety.”
Methodology used by RSF to assess and rank countries?
• Countries are ranked after being assigned a score ranging from 0 to 100, with 100 representing the highest possible level of press freedom and the worst.
• The scoring has two components: a quantitative one, that tallies abuses against journalists and media outlets, and a qualitative analysis based on the responses of press freedom specialists (journalists, researchers, human rights defenders) to an RSF questionnaire.
• Countries are evaluated on five contextual indicatorsi political context, legal framework, economic context, socio-cultural context, and safety.
• A subsidiary score’ ranging from 0 to 100 is calculated for each indicator, and all the subsidiary scores together contribute to the global score India, which had a global score of 53.44 in the 2021 Index, could muster only 41 this time.
Findings with regard to world press freedom?
• In terms of global trends, the report flags a “two-fold increase in polarisation amplified by information chaos – that is, media polarisation fuelling divisions within countries, as well as polarisation between countries at the international level.”
• It notes that “within democratic societies, divisions are growing due to the spread of “opinion media” modelled on Fox News, and the rise of disinformation circuits” amplified by how social media functions.
• While singling out Moldova (40th) and Bulgaria (91st) for drastic improvements in press freedom “thanks to a government change”, it has classified the situation in 28 countries including Russia (155) and Belarus (153), as “very bad”.
• The world’s 10 worst countries for press freedom include Myanmar (176th), China (175), Turkmenistan (177th), Iran (178th), Eritrea (179th) and North Korea (180th).
What does the Index say about India?
• The report states that in India, “the violence against journalists, the politically partisan media and the concentration of media ownership all demonstrate that press freedom is in crisis”.
• Describing India as one of the world’s most dangerous countries for the media”, the report notes that journalists are exposed to all kinds of physical violence including police violence, ambushes by political activists, and deadly reprisals by criminal groups or corrupt local officials.
• It highlights that “supporters of Hindutva, the ideology that spawned the Hindu far-right, wage all-out online attacks on any views that conflict with their thinking.”
What are the report’s observations on India under various indicators?
• Under ‘political context’, it states: “Originally a product of the anti-colonial movement, the Indian press used to be seen as fairly progressive but things changed radically in the mid-2010s, when Narendra Modi became prime minister and engineered a spectacular rapprochement between his party, the BJP, and the big families dominating the media.”
• It highlights that “very early on, Modi took a critical stance vis-à-vis journalists, seeing them as ‘intermediaries’ polluting the direct relationship between himself and his supporters.”
• With regard to ‘legal framework’, the report notes that “Indian law is protective in theory but charges of defamation, sedition, contempt of court and endangering national security are increasingly used against journalists critical of the government”.
• Under ‘economic context’, the report, describing Indian media as a “colossus with a feet of clay”, points out that “media outlets largely depend on advertising contracts with local and regional governments and at the national level, the central government has seen that it can exploit this to impose its own narrative, and is now spending more than 2130 billion (5 billion euros) a year on ads in the print and online media alone.
• “Finally, on the socio-cultural indicators of press freedom, the report, noting that “the enormous diversity of Indian society is barely reflected in the mainstream media,” states that for the most part, only Hindu men from upper castes hold senior positions in journalism or are media executives -a bias that is reflected in media content.”
Death data in CRS, of India’s Covid toll
PAPER – 2 SOCIAL JUSTICE &HEALTH
Why Should You Know?
• Registrar General India show that about 4.75 lakh more deaths were registered in India in 2020 compared to the previous year.
• The data are part of thereportVital Statistics of India Based on the Civil Registration System (CRS)2020, released.
• There has been high interest in the CRS data for 2020, especially the death numbers, because of the large number of deaths caused by the pandemic About 1.49 lakh people died due to Covid-19 in 2020, according to official figures.
• However, the official number is widely believed to be an undercount. Several academic studies have estimatedamuch higher count; but these estimates have been reached through indirect methods and have involved several assumptions and extrapolations.
• Adefinitive picture of Covid-19 deaths in India is expected to emerge from the numbers contained in the CRS, which has registered births and deaths, and a separate exercise called the Sample Registration System (SRS), which relies on a regular survey-based process to estimate the total numbers of births and deaths in the country.
• Since CRS presents a count of registered births and deaths and SRS provides an estimate of the total numberof births and deaths, the CRS data is a subset of the SRS numbers.
• Over the years, the registration of births and deaths has increased steadily. More than 90% of births and deaths are now registered, and several states report more than 98% reg. istrations. In other words, CRS data are converging towards SRS numbers.
What do CRS data say about Covid-19 deaths?
• The data released throw no new light on the number of Covid-19 deaths in 2020. CRS is a record of all-cause deaths (and births). It does not categorise deaths by causes.
• What the data have revealed is that 81.16 lakh deaths were registered in India in 2020 -anincrease of about 4.75 lakh over the 2019 number.
• The 81.16 lakh registrations in 2020 would obviously include deaths caused by Covid-19 as well, but we do not as of now know that number.
How have registrations increased?
• It is important to note that what has increased is the registration of deaths: we do not yet know whether the actual number of deaths in 2020 has increased as well and by howmuch.
• As mentioned above, the estimate for total deaths (and births) is provided through the SRS, and that data for 2020 are still not available.
• The increase in death registrations in 2020 is consistent with the recent trend. In 2019, 92.7% of all estimated births, and 92% of all estimated deaths in the country were registered. Just two years earlier in 2017, these numbers were only 83.5% and 78.3% respectively.
• 4.75 lakh moredeath registrations in 2020 than in 2019-an increase of about 6%-is not unusual. In 2019, death registrations had increased by more than 6.9 lalch overthe 2018 number an almost 10 per cent jump.
• Even in 2018, death registrations had increased by over 4.86 lakh over the previous year. This has been the trend for over a decade now, although the year-on-year rise used to be smaller earlier.
• A similar trend is visible in the registration of births as well; the percentage of total estimated births that are registered is showing an upward trend.
• However, the actual number of registrations dropped in 2020 to 2.42 crore from 2.48 crore in 2019. This could bebecause of adecline in the total number of births.
• If fewer babies are born total registrations would go down even as the percentage of registrations continues to rise.
Why are registrations of births and deaths rising?
• There could be a variety of reasons-there is greater awareness, and a legal mandate. Aadhaar, the increase in the number of bank accounts and the network of government services that are linked to these, provide the incentive, and sometimes make it necessary for people to get births and deaths registered.
• Now that more than 92% of births and deaths are registered the room for sharp year on-year increases of the kind that was seen in the previous three years is limited.
• However, at the state level, there is still scope for massive improvements. In Bihar and UP, for example, only 52% and 63% of all estimated deaths in 2019 were registered.
How will we know the Covid death toll?
• The SRS data when they come out, are expected to give a fairly accurate estimate of Covid-19 deaths in the country.
• While SRS too does not categorise deaths by cause, it estimates the total number of deaths every year – and if total deaths in 2020 are found to be significantly higher than in previous years, it can be assumed to have been influenced by Covid-19 deaths.
• According to SRS data for previous years, about 835 lakh people die in India on average every year.
• The officialCovid-19 death toll for 2020, about 149 lakh, would go unnoticed because it would be within the yearly variation.
• In 2011 and 2013, for example, more than 85 lakh people are estimated to have died in the country.
• The Covid-19 deaths can cause a bump in the yearly numbers only if the actual death toll is substantially higher than the official toll.
Inflation Control Model
PAPER – 3 INDIAN ECONOMICS
Why Should You Know?
• Recently, Inflation is back as a talking point in the public arena, some would say belatedly, for wholesale price inflation has been in the double digits for over 12 months.
• India’s official measure of inflation, the rate of change of the consumer price index, has now breached the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)’s upper target of 6% for three months continuously.
• At the conclusion of the April meeting, the Monetary Policy Committee had already warned that the focus will henceforth be on inflation.
• It may appear contradictory to ask whether the RBI’s stated policy of ‘inflation targeting, implemented through changes in the interest rate, can control inflation, but we show here why that would be justified.
Discourse on inflation
• The discourse on inflation engaged in by Western central banks, which has been adopted in toto by their Indian counterpart, is so abstruse that it is not understood even by many economists.
• The starting point of this discourse is that inflation reflects an excess of output over its ‘natural level.
• Inflation targeting refers to the policy of controlling inflation by raising the interest rate over which the central bank has control, i.e. the rate at which it lends to commercial banks, the so-called ‘repo rate’.
• This, it is argued, will induce firms to stay their investment plans and reduce inventories, lowering production. As economy-wide output declines, becoming equal to the natural level of output, inflation will cease.
• This story does not just legitimise a policy of output contraction for inflation but sees it as optimal.
• The natural level of output itself is the productive counterpart of the natural level of employment, the level that obtains in a freely functioning labour market.
• Surely it is disturbing that India’s official model of inflation control is based on so unscientific a foundation.
• At least, the view of inflation that had ruled the central banks of the west before they adopted inflation targeting was based on something tangible, namely, the growth of the money supply.
• Not surprisingly for a theory based on an unobservable variable, the proposition that inflation is due to an overheating economy fares poorly when put to a statistical test for India.
• We are not aware of a single demonstration of the empirical validity of the model of inflation presented in the RBI report of 2014, which recommended a move to inflation targeting.
• On the other hand, in our published research, we explain inflation in India in terms of the movement of the prices of agricultural goods and, to a lesser extent, imported oil.
• The implication of this finding is damaging for the claim that monetary policy can control inflation, for neither the price of agricultural goods nor that of imported oil is under the central bank’s control.
• The only route by which monetary policy can, in principle, control inflation is by curbing the growth of non-agricultural output, which would in turn lower the growth of demand for agricultural goods.
• As the demand for agricultural goods slows, so will inflation, but this comes at the cost of output and employment.
• At least, this is the theory. Whether this takes place in practice depends upon the extent to which changes in the repo rate are transmitted to commercial bank lending rates.
Agricultural goods prices
• The implication for the policymaker that inflation is driven by agricultural goods prices, as is the case in India presently, is that the focus should be on increasing the supply of these goods.
• This could be a win-win solution, for as agricultural production grows faster, the economy expands without inflation.
• Ideally, food prices should decline, for the consequent rise in demand for other goods will propel the economy forward. But the product mix of agriculture becomes relevant here.
• Growing per capita income in India has shifted the average consumption basket towards foods rich in minerals, such as fruits and vegetables, and protein, such as milk and meat. But the expansion of the supply of these foods has been lower than the growth in demand for them.
• So a concerted drive to increase the supply of food other than rice and wheat holds the key. There was a time when the leadership of the RBI understood this, but now its leadership appears unwilling to acknowledge native wisdom.
• Increasing agricultural supply at steady if not declining prices is not going to be easy for political reasons.
• The States have not shown themselves to be particularly sensitive to the charge that they do little to ensure a supply of cheap food for the rest of the country, or even themselves in some cases.
• When they do produce surpluses, their only concern is that these be procured by the central government at the highest price. The stances of the leaders of wheat-producing northern States and rice-producing southern ones reflect this.
• Under these circumstances, a nation-wide project for producing food cheaply remains a distant dream. Now that the farm laws have been repealed, it is the time to initiate a discussion on how such a project can be taken forward.
• Costly food threatens the health of the population, as people economise on their food intake, and holds back the economy, as only a small part of a household’s budget can be spent on non-agricultural goods.
• Monetary policy maneuvers, typified by the RBI’s raising of the repo rate yesterday, is not an efficient solution for an agricultural price-driven inflation.
• Any lasting inflation control would require placing agricultural production on a steady footing, with continuously rising productivity.
• This would require a re-orientation of farm policy. Since the time of the Green Revolution, the focus has been on raising output, that too of the superior cereals.
• The inflation caused by continuously raising procurement prices for these crops and slow growth elsewhere in the food-producing sector has been swept under the carpet.
• The time has come to end this folly. Until then, inflation targeting by a committee accountable to no one will remain a charade.
• Inflation is the decline of purchasing power of a given currency over time.
• A quantitative estimate of the rate at which the decline in purchasing power occurs can be reflected in the increase of an average price level of a basket of selected goods and services in an economy over some period of time.
• Inflation, in economics, collective increases in the supply of money, in money incomes, or in prices. Inflation is generally thought of as an inordinate rise in the general level of prices.
RBI – Monetary Policy Committee
PAPER – 3 INDIAN ECONOMY
Why Should You Know?
• RBI announced that the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) had met over the previous two days and decided to raise the benchmark interest rate in the economy-the repo rate or the rate at which the RBI lends money to commercial banks – from 4% to 4.40%.
• The RBI hopes to incentivise people to spend less and save more, thus cooling demand in the economy and, by extension, prices.
• The move was surprising because the MPC meets every two months and, after meeting last month, was set to meet again in June.
• At another level though, the RBI’s actions were unsurprising – this is because for a while now, evidence has been accumulating that the central bank, whose primary responsibility is to maintain price stability in the economy and control inflation, has been failing in its job.
• In fact, the sudden, unexpected decision to raise rates is just the latest example of how RBI has been underestimating inflation and repeatedly choosing to see through rising prices.
1 Inflation has been rising for Lower two years
• By law, the RBI is supposed to target retail inflation at 4%. The law, however, prescribes some leeway to the RBI; it allows for retail inflation to vary by 2 percentage points on either side. So, in a particular month, the RBI could allow inflation to be 2% or 6%.
• However, on the whole, inflation should be around 4%-the leeway of 2% to 6% does not mean that the RBI can allow inflation to stay at 6% all or most of the time.
• In all other months, including those of the nationwide Covid-19 lockdown in 2020, inflation was well above 4%, and often even above the 6% mark.
2 This inflation has not been “transitory”
• The reasons for high inflation have tended to change over the months-sometimes it has been fuelled by high crude oil prices as well as the high level of taxation on such fuels, at other times it has been kicked up by the scarcity of food articles, perhaps because of unseasonal rains.
• And yet, for the most part since October 2019, the RBI has very openly given preference to boosting growth-by keeping interest rates low-over controlling inflation. It has often characterised inflation in a particular month as “transitory”.
• In repeated policy statements, Governor Das reiterated that the RBI would do “whatever it takes to boost growth.
• This approach meant that inflation continued to stay high, hurting the poorest the most – at a time when the economic downturn had already robbed millions of poor and even the middle class of their earnings, and even savings.
3 The spike in global crude oil prices is not new
• RBI pointed to high crude oil prices in the wake of the Ukraine war as one of the key reasons for high inflation in India.
• In fact, inflation in February crossed the 6% mark without domestic prices reflecting the increase in international crude oil prices, thanks to elections in five states.
• The February data should have been a good indicator for the RBI to expect even higher inflation when the pass through was eventually allowed.
• By March, inflation had gone up to 7%, and is likely to be even higher in April, the data for which is expected soon.
4 High core inflation is not new either
• The RBI has stated that “core inflation is likely to remain elevated in the coming months, reflecting high domestic pump prices and pressures from prices of essential medicines.”
• Again, evidence shows that over the past year, as the headline retail inflation moderated a bit the core inflation (which is essentially the inflation rate stripped of the effect of fuel and food prices) had started to go up.
• In February, Nomura Research came out with a paper titled, ‘Headline and core inflation converge at ‘six’ (per cent). Core inflation going up is often more worrisome because it takes longer to both rise and fall.
• The prices of food and fuel tend to fluctuate a lot, while core inflation moves up or down slowly. As such, if core inflation is at 6%, it should have been more worrisome for RBI.
5 Monetary policy has lags. RBI waited too long
• Often it is thought that as soon as RBI raises or reduces interest rates, the economy will respond immediately. But that does not happen.
• While such “monetary policy transmission has improved over time, yet it can still take weeks to have full effect.
• In other words, if the RBI wanted to contain inflation in May, it should have perhaps acted in February or at least in April, Raising rates right now may not bring down the inflation rate immediately.
PAPER – 2 HEALTH
Why Should You Know?
• The Health Department has decided to conduct further tests in the case of Shigella sonnie bacteria which are found to have caused food poisoning in people who had shawarma and water from an eatery at Cheruvathur in Kerala’s Kasaragod district recently.
• Since the test result found the presence of the bacteria, the water source used for the eatery will be inspected further. In addition, the Health Department has decided to inspect water sources in the surrounding areas, he added.
• The police have so far arrested three persons in con nection with the food poisoning incident.
• Preventive measures had been intensified in the district after it was confirmed on the cause of the recent food poisoning episode in Cheruvathur was shigella bacteria.
• A 16-year-old schoolgirl had died and 57 people have been hospitalised following food poisoning. Steps are being taken to carry out diarrhoea surveys and chlorinate drinking water sources and to conduct hygiene checks at food preparation and distribution centres as part of the preventive measures.
• Diarrhoea surveys are being conducted in the Neeleswaram municipal limits from where food poisoning has been reported and in the panchayats of Cheruvathur, Kayyur Cheemeni, Padanna, Pilicode and Thrikkarippur.
Food safety reports
• The Food Safety Department in the district is yet to receive the test reports of the food and water samples sent to the Regional Analytical Laboratory in Kozhikode.
• However, sources here confirmed that E.coli and coliform bacteria were found in the food samples. Testing to check the presence of shigella and salmonella bacteria I was under way.
• In Kannur Corporation, health officials conducted inspections at various hotels and restaurants and seized stale food. The authorities have issued notice to those eateries.
HC registers suo motu case
• A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Wednesday registered a suo motu case in connection with the recent food poisoning incidents in Kasaragod, which claimed the life of a student and led to the hospitalization of many others.
• The Bench, comprising Justice Devan Ramachandran and Justice P.G. Ajithkumar, said the court was appalled at the unfortunate turn of events and was pondering how it could happen when strict enforcement and analytical regimes were in place under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.
Consumer Pyramids Household Survey
PAPER – 3 INDIAN ECONOMY
Why Should You Know?
• According to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE)’s Consumer Pyramids Household Survey, employment in India fell from 408.9 million in 2019-20 to 387.2 million in 2020-21 and then recovered to 401.8 million in 2021-22.
• The recovery in 2021-22 was inadequate. Employment was still 1.7%, or 7 million short of the employment level of the pre-pandemic year of 2019-20. But this overstates the impact of the pandemic.
• Employment was on a declining trend even before the pandemic: it was falling at the rate of about 0.31% per annum. If that trend had continued uninterrupted by the pandemic, employment would have fallen by about 2.5 million from 408.9 million in 2019-20 to 406.3 million in 2021-22.
• And so, the hit to employment that can be attributed to the shock of the pandemic is about 4.5 million jobs, which is the more lasting net impact. The immediate impact was much bigger.
• Nearly 78 million jobs were lost during the quarter of June 2020, which roughly coin cides with the first wave of COVID-19.
• Similarly, 13 million jobs were lost during the second wave during the quarter of June 2021. Most jobs lost during lockdowns were of the informal kinds.
• These come back when the restrictions on mobility were lifted. If the economy expands by about 7.5% in 2022-23, we expect about 6 million jobs to come back.
• That would still leave a deficit of a million even as many more get added to the working age population and the labour force.
• As India struggles to generate the jobs it requires to engage all the additional people who enter the labour force in a year, the count of the unemployed and those out of the labour force keeps rising.
• In 2021-22, the unemployed who were actively seeking work but were unable to find any were estimated at 33 million. This was higher than the prepandemic levels.
• The 7 million jobs lost over the two years since the COVID-19 outbreak is unevenly distributed, so it may be difficult to cover most of this loss anytime soon.
Working from home
• It has been seen in the past that women suffer job losses disproportionately during economic shocks. This was true during the pandemic.
• Women accounted for less than 11% of all jobs in 2019-20, but they accounted for nearly 52% of the 7 million job losses since then.
• In urban India, it was worse: women accounted for only 9% of total employment but accounted for a massive 76% of the job losses.
• The impact of this is a sharp fall in the labour participation of women. The female labour force participation rate among urban women was abysmally low at 9.4% in 2019-20 and fell to 7% in 2021-22.
Other Major Points
• Hopes that working from home would help women to join the labour force in large numbers have been belied.
• Working from home with the rest of the family also at home made it harder for women compared to the hardship of commuting to work. It is going to be difficult to cover the 3.6 million loss of employment among women during the pandemic.
• Working from home also does not help those who have to go to work such as small traders/vendors and daily wage laborer’s, who account for the largest share of employment in India. Before the pandemic, in 201920, about 131 million or 32% of the total employment was in this form.
• In April 2020, 79 million small traders and daily wage labourers lost employment. By July 2020, most of them were back to work.
• The lockdowns demonstrated both the vulnerability and the flexibility of this category of workers. They could enter and exit the labour markets with ease.
• Employment in the form of small traders and daily wage labourers was declining at the rate of 9.3%. In the two years of the pandemic, this rate of fall fell to 2.4% per annum.
• The pandemic has reversed a trend of rising entrepreneurs. The count of entrepre. neurs who, like small traders and daily wage labourers, also have the freedom to work when conditions permit has also come down – from 78 million in 2019-20 to 75 million in 2021-22.
• This fall of about 1% is in sharp contrast to the 13% per annum growth in entrepreneurs before the pandemic. But we expect entrepreneurship to rise again principally because of a lack of salaried jobs.
• The biggest relative fall in employment is in the category of salaried employees (6.8%). About 5.9 million salaried employees have lost employment in the two years of the pandemic.
• Unlike daily wage labourers, small traders and entrepreneurs, salaried em. ployees cannot go back to work at will. Except for a few high-skill jobs, finding a new salaried job is difficult.
• Investments into new large enterprises make this task particularly difficult. A salaried job is also the most coveted form of employment. But until the investment cycle restarts, it may be difficult to see any uptick in salaried jobs.
• Employing women and providing salaried jobs are the two big challenges that the pandemic has posed that are going to be difficult to tackle soon.
Highest sex ratio at birth in Ladakh
PAPER – 1 INDIAN SOCIETY
Why Should You Know?
• Ladakh recorded the highest sex ratio at birth in the country in 2020, followed by Arunachal Pradesh, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Tripura and Kerala, according to the annual report on Vital Statistics based on 2020 Civil Registration System report.
• “Highest Sex Ratio at Birth (SRB) based on registered events has been reported by Ladakh (1,104) followed by Arunachal Pradesh (1,011), A&N Islands (984), Tripura (974), and Kerala (969),” the report released by the Registrar-General of India on. Sex ratio at birth is the number of females per thousand males.
• The lowest sex ratio was reported by Manipur (880), followed by Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu (898), Gujarat (909), Haryana (916) and Madhya Pradesh (921).
• In 2019, the highest sex ratio at birth was reported by Arunachal Pradesh (1,024), followed by Nagaland (1,001), Mizoram (975) and A&N Islands (965), and the lowest sex ratio was reported by Gujarat (901), Assam (903), Madhya Pradesh (905) and Jammu & Kashmir (909).
• The report said that the requisite information from Maharashtra, Sikkim, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi on sex ratio was “not available.” They had not provided the said data in 2019 as well.
• “The sex ratio at birth of registered events is an important indicator to map the sex differential of the population at the beginning of their life. The sex ratio at birth has been calculated after deducting the delayed registration of more than one year for the year 2020,”. None of the States or UTs have recorded sex ratio at birth below 880.
• The report noted that 1,43,379 infant deaths were registered in 2020 and the share of rural areas was only 23.4%, while that of urban areas was 76.6% in total registered infant deaths. “Nonregistration of infant deaths in rural areas was a cause of concern,”.
Foiled 18 lakh cyberattacks in India: Norton
PAPER – 3 INTERNAL SECURITY
Why Should You Know?
• Global cybersecurity services provider NortonLifeLock on Wednesday said it had blocked more than 18.013.055 threats – the equivalent of about 195,794 per day – during the first three months of 2022 in India.
• Of these, 59,907 were phishing attempts and 31,062 were tech support scams, the firm said, adding that cybercriminals were now deceiving victims using deepfakes and crypto scams to access financial or personal information. Globally, the company blocked more than a billion attacks in the quarter ended March, ie, more than 11 million attacks a day.
• NortonLifeLock highlighted three different ways that criminals were perpetrating online scams globally – deepfakes, romance scams and crypto scams. Deep fakes, it said, were being used to scam consumers and spread disinformation.
• The Norton Labs team has spotted deepfakes used to create fake social media profiles, fuel charity scams and spread propaganda relating to the ongoing war in Ukraine.
• Norton Labs also tracked $29 million in bitcoin stolen in 2021 and expects this figure to continue to rise in 2022 as the crypto market’s value increases and scammers capitalise on world events.
• The third channel is the romance fraud that preys on vulnerable people looking for love and connection.