The Indian government of Narendra Modi is being criticized for generating fewer jobs, cracking down on labor rights and its myopic focus on foreign investments in its three years in office.
According to a report published last week, fewer jobs have been created in India under the Bharatiya Janata Party-led right wing government compared to the previous government led by the liberal Congress Party.
The report titled, “India Exclusion Report 2016,” was published by the Centre for Equity Studies, a New Delhi-based think tank. Citing labor ministry data, it said that employment creation in 2015 plummeted to 135,000 jobs compared to 930,000 in 2011.
The motto of the Modi government in the last three years has been clear: roll out the red carpet for foreign investors and industry and give them a free hand to hire and fire while throttling labor rights and wages,” the Communist Party of India stated on its website.
General Secretary Sitaram Yechuri of the CPI-M tweeted, “Amidst all the tall numbers about the economy that the govt spins, why doesn’t it talk about the number of jobs created in three years.”
Modi, the current prime minister who was appointed in 2014 has launched several attacks on labor rights in India and proposed several austerity measures.
The Small Factories (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Services) Bill of 2014 seeks to exempt firms with up to 40 employees from compliance with six major labor laws, one of them being the easing of the laws for the owners to able to hire and fire workers at their whim. The Industrial Relations Code Bill 2015 gives the employers with up to 300 workers permission to lay off without the government’s permission.
Under the bill, employers with up to 300 workers would are not required to get government permission for retrenchment, layoffs or closures.
Another austerity measure proposed is the Labour Code on Wages Bill 2015, that seeks to replace laws pertaining to minimum wages, payment of salaries, and benefits. The Modi government has also proposed major exemptions for start-up firms, including five-year-old registered corporations that have an annual turnover of less than US$3,885,900.
Just last year the government saw one of the biggest general strikes in independence history, where an estimated 150 million workers came out against the government’s economic reforms. One of the prime reasons for the strike was the government’s refusal to increase the minimum wage for unskilled workers from US$99 per month to US$141.
The report also shed light on the ongoing oppression of the Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims and women — traditionally marginalized groups who remain the most excluded — over issues such as pensions, digital access, agricultural land, and legal justice.
According to the report, systematic bias in the criminal justice system continues to impact the marginalized communities as nearly 65 percent of those on trial belong to historically oppressed classes such as scheduled caste and tribes, and “Other Backwards Communities.” Also, 30 percent belong to other minority communities of which Muslims constitute a sizeable portion.