In yet another shocking display of inefficiency and lack of professionalism, the Minister of State (MoS) for Labour and Employment gave 2018-19’s unemployment rate as an answer. when asked about the monthly unemployment rate in the last 12 months!
Member of Parliament (MoP) Derek O’ Brien asked MoS Santosh Kumar Gangwar about the impact of the nation-wide lockdown on the country’s employment status as well as updates on the monthly unemployment rate in the last year. He also asked about the number of people who lost jobs due to the pandemic-induced restrictions in the last six months.
To this set of questions, Gangwar said, “As per the PLFS 2018-19, the estimated unemployment rate … for persons of all ages on usual status basis in the country was 5.8%. The Covid-19 followed by lockdowns has affected economies across the globe including India. Covid-19 has resulted in large number of migrant workers going back to their native places. Government has taken initiatives for creating jobs at local levels through Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY), Aatmanirbhar Bharat & Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Rozgar Abhayan (PMGKRA).”
He added that under the Aatmanirbhar Bharat initiative, an economic package of Rs. 20 Lakh Crores was provided to create employment opportunities in the country.
Similarly, when member of Parliament Mallikarjun Kharge asked the Minister about the job loss incurred by the daily wage labourers during the lockdown period, he repeated the government initiatives taken by the Centre rather than the exact data related to job loss among migrant workers.
Earlier, the Centre also said that it has no data relating to the number of migrant worker deaths in the country during the nation-wide lockdown. The plight of migrants during the past few months has been widely covered by Citizens for Justice and Peace in its Migrant Diaries series.
Although the Centre claimed no intention to provide compensation to migrant families whose members had died in this period, Gangwar said the Central Government had announced Rs.1.70 Lakh Crore relief package under the PMGKY for the poor people to help them fight the battle against coronavirus.
Members of Parliament Abdul Wahab and Sasmit Patra asked the MoS about job loss both in the organised and unorganised sector. Gangwar failed to answer this question as well however, he answered the following question about government measures at length.
“To boost employment and livelihood opportunities for migrant workers returning to villages, in the wake of Covid-19 outbreak, Government of India has launched Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan on 20th June 2020. The Abhiyaan focuses on durable rural infrastructure and providing modern facilities like internet in the villages. Skill Mapping of the rural migrant labour is being done to help them work closer home,” he said.
He also talked about the PM- SVANidhi Scheme that provides collateral free working capital loan upto Rs.10,000 to approximately 50 lakh street vendors; the AatmaNirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan under which the Government earmarked an additional Rs. 40,000 crore under MGNREGS; among other initiatives.