The Indian Labour Market: A Fallacy, Two Looming Crises and a Silent Tragedy

Santosh Mehrotra, Centre for Informal Sector and Labour Studies, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University

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Analyses of the Indian labour market have been been characterized by the lack of recognition of one major fallacy or myth, two looming crises, and a silent tragedy resulting from unrealized expectations. The fallacy is that 12 mn join the Indian labour force every year, looking for work. The first of the two looming crisis is that millions need and wish to agriculture behind in search of non agricultural work, but at least since 2011-12 they are not finding enough work to pull them away from agriculture. The second looming crisis is that youth are joining the age group of 14+ in growing numbers, each year with higher and higher levels of education, and are not finding nonagricultural work – despite their aspiration being only for such work. The final concern, which is simmering rather than reached the ‘ready-to-boil-over’ stage, is the sub-group of the second looming crisis of youth who are getting better educated, is for girls who have reached gender parity in secondary education, and hence aspire for non-agricultural work. All three categories of workers have plenty among them who are disheartened workers, for whom there are too few non-agricultural opportunities.

Suggested citation:

Mehrotra, Santosh. 2018. “The Indian Labour Market: A Fallacy, Two Looming Crises and a Silent Tragedy.” Centre for Sustainable Employment Working Paper #9, Azim Premji University, Bangalore.