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India, 75, seeks a way forward in a large but job-scarce economy

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The Associated Press

The Associated Press

Krutika Pathi And Bhumika Saraswati

New Delhi (AP) — As India's economy grows, the roar of factories fills the sleepy, dusty village of Manesar. We've turned it into a booming industry as a hub, cranking out everything from cars and sinks to smartphones and tablets. But jobs are scarce every year, and more and more workers are lining up along the roads for jobs, trying to make money.

A young woman in her early twenties, Sugna, who goes by her first name, comes to the city's labor market every day with her husband and her two children. Every day she gathers at dawn to solicit her work. It has been days since she or her husband got her job and she has only 5 rupees (6 cents) on hand.

Scenes like this are a daily reality for millions of Indians, where rampant unemployment has led to instability and inequality between rich and poor. It is the most visible sign of economic hardship in a worsening country. This is perhaps the biggest challenge for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who will celebrate 75 years of independence from British rule on August 15.

In the last five months she has earned 2,000 rupees ($25). "How can I live like this? If I live like this, how can my children live better?" Leave home and encamp at bazaars found in nearly every city. Of the many who recently flocked to Manesar, only the lucky few were able to find work at meager wages, digging roads, laying bricks, and cleaning up trash. }

India's astounding transformation from a poor country in 1947 to an emerging global powerhouse with a $3 trillion economy and Asia's third-largest economy has driven India to develop software and vaccines. became a major exporter of such Millions have been lifted out of poverty and the highly skilled sector is enjoying the ambitious growth of a burgeoning middle class.

"It's amazing. A poor country like India was not expected to succeed in such a field," said Nimish Adia, an economics professor at Manhattanville University. rice field.

According to the International Monetary Fund, the economy is expected to expand at an annual pace of 7.4% this year, making him one of the fastest growing nations in the world.

But as India's economy expands, so does unemployment. The unemployment rate has hovered around 7% to 8% in recent months. Only 40% of her working-age Indians are employed, down from 46% five years ago, according to the Center for Economic Monitoring of India (CMIE).

“If you look at the poor in 1947 and the poor today, they are far better off today. If you look at it, the gap is widening," said Gayathri Vasudevan, chairman of the social enterprise Labor Net.

"India continues to grow well, but that growth is not creating enough jobs. Crucially, it is not creating enough quality jobs." CMIE CEO Mahesh Vyas said. While only 20% of jobs in India are in the formal sector, with regular wages and guaranteed security, most other jobs are precarious, of poor quality, and offer little to no profit.

This is because around 40% of workers are engaged in agriculture, and agriculture remains the main force.

As workers lost their jobs in cities during the pandemic, many moved back to farms, boosting numbers. They are employed as farmers, disguised unemployment," Biers said.

Independence from Great Britain in 1947 posed a formidable challenge to the nation's leaders. The GDP is only 3% of the world total, the literacy rate is 14% of his and the life expectancy is 32 years, Adhia said.

Latest measurements put the literacy rate at 74% and life expectancy at 70 years. Dramatic progress was brought about by the historic reforms of the 1990s, which wiped out decades of socialist dominance over the economy and spurred impressive growth.

Over the past few decades, the influx of foreign investment, booming exports and the birth of new industries such as information technology have prompted comparisons with China. But India, a latecomer to offshoring by Western multinationals, has struggled to create mass manufacturing jobs. And we are facing new challenges in charting the course forward.

Lending tends to flow into profitable and capital-intensive sectors such as gasoline, metals and chemicals. Industries that employ large numbers of workers, such as textiles and leather goods, are in decline. This trend continued during the pandemic. Around 30 million people are currently employed in manufacturing, despite Prime Minister Modi's 2014 'Make in India' campaign to turn the country into just another factory floor in the world. . It employed 50 million people in 2017, according to CMIE data.

Young job seekers are increasingly targeting government jobs as factory and private sector employment shrinks.

Some, like Sahil Rajput, the 21-year-old, see such work as a way out of poverty. Rajput is preparing hard for a job in the army, working low-paying data entry jobs, getting tutoring to become a soldier, and supporting his unemployed parents.

However, the government reviewed his military recruitment in June to cut costs and modernize, changing the long-term post to his four-year contract. . The move sparked weeks of protests, with young people setting cars on fire.

Rajput knows that he may not get a full-time position in the army. "But I have no other choice," he said. "How can I dream of the future when my present is in tatters?" are investing in Twenty years ago, India became an outsourcing powerhouse as businesses and call centers boomed. An explosion of start-ups and digital innovation aims to replicate that success. According to the ministry, more than 740,000 jobs have been created for him through start-ups, an increase of 110 percent over the past six years.

There is still a long way to go in educating and training the workforce for such jobs. From her high of nearly 27% in 2005 to her just over 20% in 2021, there is a steady decline for working women in India, according to World Bank data.

Meanwhile, makeshift farming appears increasingly precarious as climate change brings extreme temperatures and scorches crops.

Sajan Arora, her 28-year-old farmer in India's breadbasket state of Punjab, is able to rely on her ancestral farmland for her family's survival. lost. He, along with his wife and his 7-month-old daughter, plans to look for work with his family in England after selling the land.

"There is no way forward in farming," Arora said, and he said he would do what he could: drive a taxi, work in a shop, or work on a construction site. I was.

He is sad to leave his parents and childhood home behind, but believes the uncertainty of change offers a "better outlook" than his current reality.

"If all was well, why should we go? If we want a better life, we must leave," he said.