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India’s Jobless Hit Hard by Lagging Economy

  • Aru Pande

With India's economic growth at its lowest point in a decade, some are questioning whether the South Asian nation should still be counted among the world's most influential, emerging economies.

Evidence of India’s slowing economy can be seen from local car dealerships - where auto sales are set to decrease for the first time in 10 years - to job training workshops where unemployed young people like Yogesh Dahiya get interview advice. The New Delhi resident says finding a job in India’s retail sector is tough.

"As the market is going down, competition is so high," he said.

Employment consultant Alka Kohli says she has seen a change in the job market since starting her training and recruiting company.

"There are many more people who need jobs now than they needed five years ago, that is definitely there," she said. "However, earlier there was a trend of a lot of people going for post graduation [post-grad degrees] and asking for jobs, but now people understand that post-graduation is not translating into the job market."

As India’s once double-digit growth rate dips to five percent, analysts like Rajiv Kumar with the Center for Policy Research warn that future growth depends on large-scale job creation to employ the next generation of workers. He says that means adding one million new jobs every month for the next two decades.

"The long-term strength of the Indian economy is supposed to be its young population, but if you do not, for example, create these jobs now - these young people will be frustrated, will be angry and will be out in the streets, which will then impact your long-term growth prospects," he said.

Ahead of this year’s BRICS summit in South Africa, Kumar says India should not focus too much on its standing among other emerging economies such as Indonesia, which is becoming a favorite for foreign investors.

Instead, he says officials should focus on domestic problems like improving governance, the public education system and the country’s infrastructure.

"Your major cities - Lucknow, Varanasi, Chennai - they have all got four, six, eight hours of power cuts," he said. "Now how does a country or an economy work without this?"

As job applicants like Sachin Dwivedi sharpen their skills at training centers for the tighter labor market, many are optimistic that the economy will bounce back.

"I faced the interview, one or two interviews, but I could not succeed. But still there is hope and I am trying my best."

For India’s leaders, much is riding on their ability to meet the expectations of hundreds of millions of new workers.