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Nitin Gadkari is right: There aren’t enough government jobs to go around

Growth in public sector jobs is a useful metric to gauge the usefulness of reservations in solving employment problems of the social groups who either enjoy reservations or are demanding it.

“Even if reservation is given, there are no jobs. Jobs in banks have shrunk because of information technology. Government recruitment is frozen,” Nitin Gadkari said.

Responding to questions on the Maratha reservation agitation last week, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari was candid about limitation of reservations in dealing with the employment crisis. “Even if reservation is given, there are no jobs. Jobs in banks have shrunk because of information technology. Government recruitment is frozen,” Gadkari said. He also added that his statement reflected “socio-economic thinking” and appealed that it should not be politicised. On Monday, Congress president Rahul Gandhi appeared to do just that. In a tweet quoting Gadkari’s statement, Rahul tried to link Gadkari’s comments with the ongoing debate about job-creation under the present government.

The debate on employment performance of the Narendra Modi government will not be resolved until latest employment numbers from National Sample Survey Office’s (NSSO) are released. However, this need not stop us from examining the merits of Gadkari’s comments. Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) gives numbers on organised sector employment – public and private – from 1971-72 to 2011-12. Reservations are only valid in public sector jobs. Therefore, growth in public sector jobs is a useful metric to gauge the usefulness of reservations in solving employment problems of the social groups who either enjoy reservations or are demanding it.

The following chart shows the trajectory of three key metrics: share of public sector in total organised sector employment and annual growth of public sector and total organised sector employment. Public sector’s share in total organised sector employment was rising till the 1980s, however the tide turned with the liberalisation of the Indian economy. This is not very difficult to explain. One of the key thrusts of India’s liberalisation push has been a withdrawal of the government from various spheres of economic activity.

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