Unemployment in India is at its highest in 45 years

Unemployment rate in India highest for 45 years, reason why Modi government refused to release NSSO report

Job data row: BJP hits back with Mussolini taunt after Congress chief Rahul Gandhi dubs PM Modi as ‘Fuhrer’

But, while India's economy has been expanding by 7%-plus annually - the fastest pace among major economies - its uneven growth has meant there are not enough new jobs to keep pace.

Citing a report by the McKinsey Global Institute, Mr Kant said a combination of increased government spending, additional IT hiring, and increase in entrepreneurship created gainful employment for 20-26 million people between 2014 and 2017.

Rahul Gandhi, the leader of the Congress party, the main opposition, said the report showed "a national disaster". In comparison, the unemployment rate stood at 2.2% in 2011-'12, during the United Progressive Alliance's second term, according to the survey.

Kumar said NSSO would release PLFS reports by March after processing the July-September and October-December quarterly PLFS surveys.

Earlier this week, P C Mohanan, a career statistician, and J V Meenakshi, Professor at the Delhi School of Economics, resigned from NSC citing the delay in release of the PLFS report as one of the reasons.

The revelation on unemployment rate will be extremely bad news for the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

The government declined to confirm or deny the report. The joblessness rate among youth was at a significantly higher level in 2017-18 than the previous years and "much higher compared to that in the overall population", the draft says.

Two members - including the acting chairman - of the National Statistical Commission resigned this week, saying the government had not released the job numbers despite the commission's approval.

Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant, who too was present at the conference, said India is creating adequate number of jobs for new entrants, but "probably we are not creating high quality jobs".

The survey comes a month after the All India Manufacturers' Organisation released a report that said 3.5 million jobs had been lost since 2016.

Critics say Modi's push for raising the share of domestic manufacturing from 17% of GDP to about 25% has not taken off over the last four years.

If the report is made public, and if it does show that unemployment peaked in the aftermath of the note ban, it will deflate the government's relentless attempt to give the drastic measure a positive spin. This is why the NSSO report was kept under the wraps. They were appointed by the government as members in the NSC in June 2017 for a three-year term.

The government has been unable to keep its lofty promises of providing meaningful jobs to all, and policy missteps like demonetisation have only exacerbated the crisis in the Indian economy.

A Hindustan Times report published on Thursday pointed out that not only did demonetisation not achieve its primary objective of purging black money, it also did significant damage to the Indian economy by squeezing incomes and liquidity. "India does not want a Government that has left the future of our youth in jeopardy", Surjewala said on Twitter.

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