The major suggestion, however, focuses on making India a major hub for final assembly in a range of products that it calls as network products (NP). These are producer-driven networks, whose products are not made from start to finish in one country. Such countries specialise in particular stages of production.
The Survey has made calculations that show that if India focuses on NP exports, total number of jobs attributed to exports of NP will go up from 4.4 million in 2020 to 14.3 million in 2025 and 25.5 million in 2030. This implies that NP exports alone can create 10 million jobs in five years and over 20 million jobs in ten years.
To place these numbers in perspective, we may point that India’s total employment is a little over 400 million and salaried jobs are of the order of 86 million.
But, the Survey states there are second order effects of this strategy which could create an additional 38.5 million jobs in the next five years.
Effectively therefore, the Survey suggests that if India focuses on an export-driven strategy based on network products inspired by China’s experience and leveraging China’s potential downturn, it could create 40 million jobs in the next five years.
If Chapter 5 of the Economic Survey
was written to address the problem of jobs in India, then it is a rather narrow and clinical approach on the subject. Jobs, here, are an outcome of an export-driven growth strategy. This is fine. But, an export-driven growth strategy is a lot more than merely copying China.
Here is a worry. It is not unreasonable to assume that the proposed strategy of the Survey will not be implemented or be implementable in the next few years. If so, where will the jobs come from?
The Survey does not address the problem of jobs comprehensively. Volume I does not use any data on jobs at all.
Volume II of the Economic Survey
shows that according to the Periodic Labour Force Survey (which shall eternally remain not strictly comparable to earlier surveys of the NSSO
unless such comparisons are found to be useful for a particular argument), there has been an increase in the share of formal employment as captured by regular wage/salaried, from 17.9 per cent in 2011-12 to 22.8 per cent in 2017-18. Interestingly, according to CMIE’s Consumer Pyramids Household Survey, this share was 21.3 per cent in 2017-18. This is interesting because two completely different surveys conducted by different agencies, using different samples and methodologies over a very large and diverse country like India, produce estimates that are very close to each other. This demonstrates the power of large scientifically produced household surveys.