Labour, Jobs and Employment – Harmonization of labour laws, gender gap, unemployment, etc.

Do subsidies and safety nets take focus away from generating jobs?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NA

Mains level : Jobless growth, subsidies and safety nets

What’s the news?

  • India’s impressive economic growth numbers have not translated into a commensurate increase in employment opportunities.

Central idea

  • Despite India’s impressive economic growth numbers, employment has not seen a commensurate increase. With five states heading to the polls at the end of the year, political parties are making various promises to address concerns about rising essential commodity prices. However, the question arises: Are these promises merely distractions from the systemic issue of jobless growth?

Promises vs. Solutions: Are Electoral Promises Diverting Attention from Jobless Growth?

  • Unemployment’s Stark Reality: India’s economic growth stands in stark contrast to the persistent issue of unemployment, particularly among educated youth.
  • Varied Electoral Promises: Political parties have introduced a range of electoral promises, including measures like providing cheaper gas cylinders and farm loan waivers. These promises often vary in their impact and effectiveness.
  • State-specific Examples: In states like Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, where unemployment is a significant concern, electoral promises such as the Old Pension Scheme (OPS) may not effectively address the broader issue.

Agriculture’s Predicament: Can Supply Chain Vulnerabilities and Non-Remunerative Prices be Effectively Addressed?

  • Critical Supply Chain Resilience: The agriculture sector, India’s largest employer, grapples with issues like supply chain vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities can be exacerbated by factors such as climate change.
  • Transforming Agricultural Output: To tackle the challenge of non-remunerative prices for produce, technological interventions aimed at converting agricultural output into higher-value products are proposed as long-term solutions.
  • Palliatives Amidst Inflation Concerns: In some states like Chhattisgarh, promises like providing ₹1,500 a month for women in distress are seen as addressing purchasing power issues. However, concerns about potential inflation due to such measures must be taken into account.

Fiscal Responsibility and Unemployment: Is There a Correlation?

  • The Paradox of Fiscal Responsibility: States like Haryana, which strictly adhere to fiscal responsibility guidelines, continue to face high unemployment rates. This paradox highlights the complex relationship between populist policies and fiscal distress.
  • Emphasis on Revenue Mobilization: To effectively implement populist policies, a focus on revenue mobilization efforts is crucial. It’s necessary to ensure that such policies do not strain state finances in the long run.

Do subsidies and safety nets take focus away from generating jobs?

  • Immediate Relief vs. Long-term Employment:
  • Subsidies and safety nets offer immediate relief to vulnerable sections of the population, addressing issues like distress and purchasing power.
  • However, there is a concern that an overemphasis on such measures may shift focus away from the more significant task of generating sustainable employment opportunities.
  • Balancing Priorities:
  • Balancing the need for immediate relief with the long-term goal of job creation is a complex challenge.
  • While subsidies and safety nets serve a critical purpose, they must be complemented with policies and strategies that promote job generation, particularly in sectors that can absorb the workforce effectively.
  • Policy Design and Implementation:
  • Effective policymaking should aim to strike a balance between providing immediate support and fostering job growth.
  • It is essential to design policies that not only address the distress of vulnerable populations but also contribute to sustainable economic development by generating employment opportunities.

Rethinking Economic Growth: Beyond GDP and Toward Employment

  • Shifting the Focus from GDP: A Shift away from the Traditional Obsession with GDP Growth It emphasizes that economic growth should be intertwined with employment generation to make a meaningful impact on the lives of citizens.
  • Exploring New Avenues: Rather than investing heavily in high-tech industries like semiconductor manufacturing, the article suggests exploring sectors such as mining for the energy transition. Mining can create local jobs, particularly benefiting marginalized communities and addressing unemployment.


  • Addressing jobless growth in India requires a nuanced approach. While populist promises serve as palliatives in the absence of structural solutions, the focus should shift towards inclusive growth, technological interventions, and employment-centric policies that tackle supply chain vulnerabilities and promote sustainable economic development.

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