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'India is getting better'

By SHOBHA WARRIER
July 11, 2022 12:20 IST
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'Last year, India exported more software than Saudi Arabia exported oil.'
'Last year India got $83 billion of private equity.'
'50 percent of India's FDI has come in the last five years.'

Kindly note the image has only been published for representational purposes. Photograph: Krishna Murari Kishan/Reuters

"It is time we shift the definition of India's problems from employment to productivity," Manish Sabharwal, vice chairman, TeamLease Services, tells Rediff.com's Shobha Warrier in the concluding part of a two-part interview.

 

Reports say there are around 45 million people without any jobs...

That is true since Independence; 6-9 percent. It is not like Spain where unemployment is 20 percent, or Italy where unemployment is 40 percent.

I agree that there are many poor people. We should focus on poverty rather than unemployment.

We should be careful in positioning this as 'new'. There is nothing new about India's labour market challenges.

If the patient is in the ICU for 10 years, you have to tell him to lose weight or quit smoking!

The problem needs calm, structured, thinking of 5 years, or 10 years or 15 years on how to urbanise India, educate India, financialise India, industrialise India, and skill India...

You cannot make a transformation in the next 10 days, but you can in the next 10 years.

So, do you feel programmes like Skill India, Make in India, Digitise India will bear fruit after a decade or so?

Yes. Last year, India exported more software than Saudi Arabia exported oil.

Last year India got $83 billion of private equity.

50 percent of India's FDI has come in the last five years.

It is important to recognise this. It is easy to rant that India is getting worse without looking at the facts.

I think India is getting better.


IMAGE: Manish Sabharwal, VC, TeamLease Services

But experts say there is a disconnect between India's economic growth and jobs. They say, what is happening is jobless growth.

I don't think it is jobless growth. Jobs are there, but not enough income.

If they are talking about income, I can understand.

I will never agree with these experts. India does not have a jobs problem, but it has a wage problem.

How do you describe the Indian economy performing?

I think we are on track. Formalisation is on track.

We have already reached the $3 trillion economy.

When we reach the $5 trillion economy, we will be the third largest total economy.

Now we are in 5th in total GDP ,but 130th in per capita GDP.

Then, how do you raise per capita GDP? By increasing productivity. So, we are back to productivity rather than employment.

It is time we shift the definition of India's problems from employment to productivity.

I think these experts are fighting yesterday's war.

The criticism is that the economy is growing, but the fruits are enjoyed by a small section of society.

I am not sure. The definition of poverty has changed in our lifetime. It is changing even now.

I would love the American definition of poverty where 60 percent of people have air conditioning and 40 percent have a car.

But our definition also changed from bhooka, nanga, pyasa.

There is a poverty industry that can only survive itself by saying India is not making any progress.

I am not saying we have arrived. But the notion that we have not made progress is unfair if not uninformed.

So, you feel the government's target of $5 trillion economy by 2025 can be achieved?

It is do-able. And we are on track for it.

The poverty industry laughed when we spoke about India becoming a $3 trillion economy, but we have reached there.

Feature Presentation: Rajesh Alva/Rediff.com

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