BFF-46 Indian statisticians quit over jobs report delay

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INDIA-EMPLOYMENT-UNEMPLOYMENT

Indian statisticians quit over jobs report delay

NEW DELHI, Jan 30, 2019 (BSS/AFP) – A top Indian statistics official has
quit in protest at a government delay in the publication of a report many
expect will show rising unemployment under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Such findings, coming ahead of elections due by May, would be highly
damaging to Modi, who came to power in 2014 promising to create millions of
jobs.

P V Mohanan, acting chair of the National Statistics Commission (NSC),
told AFP that he quit on Tuesday along with a colleague, saying that the NSC
had approved the report in early December.

“We have resigned because I felt we were not taken seriously. Our
decisions have not been implemented… The commission was not playing an
effective role,” he said.

Newspapers suggested that the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO)
report, the first since 2011-12, would reflect job losses in the wake of
Modi’s shock demonetisation scheme in 2016.

That surprise move saw 86 percent of Indian banknotes become unusable
overnight.

It was aimed at bringing the vast informal economy out of the shadows, but
critics said it was badly managed and caused unnecessary suffering to
millions of India’s poor.

“The 2017-18 job survey did not present a good picture on the employment
front. This is most likely the reason for holding it back,” the Indian
Express daily quoted an NSSO source as saying.

India’s statistics ministry issued a “clarification” on Wednesday saying
that Mohanan and his colleague did not express their “concerns… in any of
the meetings of the Commission in the last few months.”

Modi’s government, which has complained about the lack of reliable jobs
data, decided to make the NSSO survey an annual exercise starting 2017-18.

Its statement on Wednesday said that the NSSO was reviewing data for the
period July 2017 to December 2018 and that the report would be “released
thereafter”.

According to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, an independent
think-tank, the jobless rate increased to 7.4 percent in December, the
highest in 15 months, while 11 million jobs were lost in 2018 due to
demonetisation.

BSS/AFP/RY/20:06 hrs