lørdag 2. februar 2019

Unlike his predecessors, the Indian prime minister has in five years never held a traditional press conference. What has he got to hide?

Narendra Modi’s 2014 election victory in India, the most resounding for 25 years, was built on two weaknesses: the shattered credibility of his opponents in the Congress party and the economic downturn the country was experiencing.

One of Mr Modi’s most memorable campaign pledges was to create 10m jobs a year, or about 840,000 jobs a month. It was a promise that resonated across India’s caste divides for young people, who represent roughly two-thirds of nation’s population of 1.35 billion. However, it turns out Mr Modi’s Bharitya Janata party (BJP) government has been creating jobs – just not enough.

Rather than admit this, Mr Modi’s government sat on the official report detailing the scale of the problem. Two senior officials at India’s National Statistical Commission resigned, and then a draft report was leaked showing that unemployment had climbed to its highest rate in 45 years. Almost one in six rural young men were unemployed.

None of this should surprise anyone: last year it was reported that 93,000 people applied for 62 jobs as government clerks. It is also true that in the absence of a comprehensive welfare system, few Indians can afford not to work. Most end up self-employed or taking informal jobs to earn cash.