ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Articles By Himanshu

A Budget amidst a Deepening Crisis

Budget 2021–22 has been presented in the context of a sharp slowdown in an economy battered by a severe contraction due to the lockdown. The pandemic has only contributed to the worsening of the humanitarian crisis, as is evident from data on hunger, malnutrition and employment. This budget provided a historic opportunity to use fiscal resources to provide a vision for economic recovery, and also to create enabling infrastructure and provide resources for improving the lives of people suffering from the twin shocks of slowdown and the pandemic. Despite the urgent need to invest in the social sector, the failure of the budget to allocate resources will be detrimental to the progress made in the last two decades.

 

Too Little, Too Late

The last budget of the Modi government comes against the backdrop of severe agrarian and rural distress. It is also the last opportunity to undo the damage caused to the rural economy by this government in the last four years. While the government has finally acknowledged the gravity of the situation, its response has been limited to empty rhetoric without any financial commitment. Going by the past record of the government, it is clear that it is serious neither in its commitment nor in its intent. The half-hearted measures are not only too little and too late, it is also clear that this budget is unlikely to revive the rural economy.

Rural Push in Budget 2016-17

Budget 2016-17 recognises that the rural economy is in crisis; however, it fails to address this with sufficient targeted rural spending. A perusal of budget documents reveals exaggerated expenditure claims, achieved through reclassification of budget heads. There has been an enduring neglect of agriculture, which is further exacerbated by this year's reduced subsidies for fertiliser and food. This will induce further vulnerabilities in the rural economy.

Employment Trends in India: A Re-examination

This paper re-examines the trends in employment and unemployment as thrown up by successive National Sample Surveys from the mid-1970s. The analysis suggests that the euphoria about high employment growth during 1999-2004 was not justified nor does the concern about jobless growth in the subsequent years capture the changes in employment structure. A long-term analysis of employment trends reveals that changes in the employment pattern and workforce structure have been sluggish and do not conform to the standard employment-output relationship. The analysis also flags certain issues which have a bearing on the comparability of employment data before and after 1993-94. Large fluctuations seen after 1993-94 appear to be a result of the movement in and out of labour force of a substantial section of the population which is vulnerable and in the informal sector in a phase of rising overall rates of economic growth. The paper concludes with a brief discussion of the results of the recently released 2009-10 survey.