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'Jobs - Reality Check': Jobs should be primary agenda as India prepares for elections, says Raghuram Rajan

Speaking at the launch of his book, former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan said that we need to start creating jobs that people want. On loan waivers, Rajan pointed out that it is not an answer to rural distress and in fact kills the credit culture, eventually creating trouble for the farmers.

Aprajita Sharma  New Delhi     Last Updated: April 1, 2019  | 15:45 IST
Jobs should be primary agenda as India prepares for elections, says Raghuram Rajan
Former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan said India needs to collect jobs data in a better way.

As the debate on the veracity and the quality of unemployment data goes on, former Reserve Bank of India governor Raghuram Rajan said India needs to collect jobs data in a better way. He also noted that jobs should be the primary election agenda and a 'task one' for the government to deliver as the country prepares to hold the elections next month.

"We need to collect better jobs data. Unfortunately, the issue has languished, as various arms of the government have never settled on whose responsibility it is. I believe, there are still various efforts on, but I am unsure of their progress. It is one reason why we need to push a thorough look at our statistics," Rajan told Business Today.

Recently, a 'leaked' report from the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) claimed that the unemployment rate in India has touched a 45-year high of 6.1 per cent in 2017-18.

Speaking at the launch of his book 'The Third Pillar -- How Markets and the State leave the Community Behind', Rajan, who is currently a professor at The University of Chicago Booth School of Business, said that we need to start creating jobs people want.

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"Start creating jobs that people want. Take care of the distress, but whatever measures you put, put them as a pathway for people to get those jobs rather than standing in the way of getting those jobs... We can talk about the economic reforms that are needed, but jobs are task one," Rajan remarked when asked what should be the key focus as we approach elections.

On loan waivers, Rajan pointed out that it is not an answer to rural distress and in fact kills the credit culture, eventually creating troubles for the farmers.

"First we need to worry about why people are so distressed and angry. There is a lot of agriculture distress. I personally believe that farm loan waivers are not the answers. Farmers may get some short-term benefits, but they suffer in the long-run as banks become wary of lending to them again," he said.

Emphasising on 'inclusive localism' and the importance of community in an economy, Rajan noted that the Panchayati Raj system is not working well in India.

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"We need a bottom-up movement. While we do have decentralised Panchayati-Raj system in India, it is a half-done movement. Central schemes are indeed being implemented by local bodies but we need a system where centre takes forward the schemes that the local governments come out with," said Rajan.

The former RBI governor while said that he is happy observing the country as an outsider, he has no qualms about coming back to India. "If opportunities come for me to be of any use, I am always available."

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