Mapping Invisible Jobs to Help Measure India’s Real Growth

first_imgFor those trying to solve the Indian economy jigsaw puzzle, reliable jobs data has been one crucial missing piece. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has a plan to fix that defect.The government is set to map employment in the economy’s vast informal sector when the labor ministry starts publishing quarterly surveys on jobs in about a year’s time, covering enterprises with less than 10 people, including those who are self-employed. These are businesses that are typically cash-based and don’t pay tax.“It’s a huge survey and takes the entire country into account,” B.N. Nanda, senior labor and employment adviser in India’s labor ministry, said in an interview at his office in New Delhi last week. “This will be the first informal sector data from the government, enterprise-wise.”With more than 90 percent of India’s labor force estimated to work in the informal economy, a lack of periodic and credible data in this sector makes it difficult to assess the impact of policy actions and measure true growth.Multiple data sets for formal jobs point in different directions, giving the perception that Modi has failed to generate employment. That’s denting his popularity among young voters ahead of next year’s election. He swept to power in May 2014 with the biggest electoral mandate in three decades after promising to create 10 million jobs each year for the country’s burgeoning youth population.About 12 million young people are set to enter the workforce every year in Asia’s third-largest economy over the next two decades. The World Bank says India must create 8.1 million jobs a year to maintain its employment rate.The state of joblessness is so dire that over 28 million people applied for about 90,000 vacancies this year at Indian Railways, the country’s biggest employer, while engineers and lawyers vie for low-skilled jobs in the government.Much of the government’s annual jobs data based on household surveys, which also captures the informal sector, is dated. The survey published for 2015-16 put the unemployment rate at 3.7 percent. The labor bureau will soon publish the data for 2016-17 — after a lag of two years — and has discontinued any more surveys, Nanda said.The organized sector, for which data is available from multiple sources, creates some confusion. The labor ministry’s figures released in March show India added 136,000 workers across eight sectors in the quarter starting July 2017, against 64,000 additions in the previous quarter.The first set of data released by social security organizations in April showed over 3.5 million new payrolls were generated in the six months through February. As the levels of employment are from various sources, there are elements of overlap and the estimates are not additive, the statistics ministry said in a statement Wednesday.NITI Aayog, the government’s policy think tank, had in April said the monthly payroll data was an “eye opener” and puts an end to “speculations and conjectures regarding job creation.”But not everyone bought the argument because payroll data could be more of a reflection of a formalization of jobs rather than a creation of new jobs.“This, of course, is not employment data,” Mahesh Vyas of the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy Pvt., a business information company, wrote in a column published on CMIE’s website. “Growth in EPFO enrollments largely reflect the conversion of hitherto informally employed people into formal employment,” he said, referring to the Employees’ Provident Fund Organization data on payroll.Private surveys paint a bleak picture. India’s jobless rate rose to 6.23 percent in March from 6.06 percent in February — the highest monthly rate in the past 15 months, data from CMIE show.The statistics office has also started conducting surveys for generating estimates of various labor force indicators on a quarterly basis for urban areas and an annual basis for rural. The results of the surveys will be published this year.The economy, which saw world-beating growth prior to a surprise cash ban in 2016, is forecast to have slumped to a four-year low of 6.6 percent in the fiscal year 2018 that ended March 31. Unemployment remained high even during the boom years and that led to Modi’s opponents concluding that the $2.3 trillion economy was seeing jobless growth. The International Monetary Fund sees India’s economic growth at 7.4 percent in fiscal year 2019.“I don’t believe in all this talk about jobless growth because your economy cannot grow at 7.4 percent without employment,” said Nanda. “If productivity has not been spectacular and capital growth isn’t remarkable the growth is basically coming from employment.”–With assistance from Bloomberg’s Pradeep Kurup .(c) 2018, Bloomberg  Related Itemslast_img read more

Mastanamma, India Cooking Granny And YouTube Sensation, Dies at 107

first_imgMastanamma got her big break at age 105.After she prepared an especially delicious eggplant curry, her great-grandson suggested that he film her cooking and then post the videos on YouTube.No matter that she was more than 100 years old, suffered from cataracts, wore dentures, cooked outside on an open fire and sometimes roasted chicken inside a steaming watermelon. That was all part of the charm.Over the next two years, she became the star of a YouTube channel with an audience of more than 1 million subscribers. She specialized in adding flair to traditional Indian dishes, especially fish ones, but occasionally experimented with chicken pizza and chocolate cake.“She knew she was famous,” said Srinath Reddy, who helped start the channel. “She loved that.”On Sunday, Mastanamma’s family and friends announced, she died at age 107. “MISS YOU GRANNY,” the moderators of her YouTube channel, Country Foods, wrote. Reddy described her as one of a kind.Born in a rural village in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, Karre Mastanamma married at 11 years old. By the time she was 22, her husband was dead. With no education, she was left to care for their five children.“How can I survive without you?” Mastanamma, as she would come to be known professionally, recalled asking her husband as he was dying. “He said: ‘You are clever. Don’t worry.’ ”To support her children, Mastanamma worked as a laborer, earning a few dollars a day carrying 200-pound rice sacks on her back. Over the years, she would lose four of her children to disease. For much of her life, she lived in a small hut made of palm leaves in the village of Gudiwada.“She never liked leaving that hut,” Reddy said. “Ever.”In 2016, her great-grandson, Karre Laxman, and Reddy, a friend, started filming the videos of her cooking and posting them on Country Foods.Her popularity soared: The channel surpassed 200 million views. Hordes of fans from around the world watched Mastanamma’s pared-down cooking tips on making spicy shrimp powder and “delicious cabbage.”Mastanamma peeled ginger with her thumbs, stored bird eggs in her sari and posed for pictures with lamb heads. She made it all, barking out orders to subordinates from a squatted position over simmering pots. On the menu were snails, catla fish and emu egg fry.Laxman regularly posted Mastanamma’s recipes online. The Country Foods channel grew to hundreds of videos. Mastanamma claimed to be the world’s oldest YouTuber.Fans loved her salt-of-the-earth sense of humor. In interviews, she joked about breaking her dentures, having given her husband a 15-cent dowry, and the time a pair of brothers teased her when she was a young woman. After one of the brothers touched her hand and long curly hair, she threw him in a river.“His brother asked me to save him,” she recalled in a video. “I said: ‘How dare he touch me! If you ask me to save him, I will throw you in the river, too!’”Mastanamma loved cooking for others, regularly feeding biryani to people and doling out pieces of spiced meat cooling on banana leaves to men working in the fields. She also loved her fans.Wearing off-kilter aviator sunglasses, Mastanamma waves at the camera from a leather-cushioned car in one clip on Country Foods. “Hi, kids!” she says, before blurting out observations. “I lost my teeth, naturally. Before, I was so beautiful. My age is above 100 years! It’s in government records.”“Nobody cooks like me in my family,” she brags in another video.In April, Mastanamma celebrated her 107th birthday with cake and party hats. She was surrounded by children.After her birthday, Mastanamma appeared sporadically in new videos on Country Foods, and fans asked about her health. Several months later, her last son died. A few weeks ago, she fell ill, and last week she slipped into unconsciousness. She died peacefully in Gudiwada, Reddy said, “her trademark innocent smile quietly playing around the corner of her lips.”The last few videos on Country Foods are of Mastanamma’s funeral. To the thump of drums, a bright yellow truck carrying her body crawls along a dirt road. Well-wishers gather in the street, dancing, laughing, whistling and sprinkling the open coffin with hundreds of flower petals.c.2018 New York Times News Service Related Itemslast_img read more