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  • Author: Sourabh Paul, Diti Goswami
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Sustainable Employment, Azim Premji University
  • Abstract: The authors examine the impact of labour law deregulations in the Indian state of Rajasthan on plant employment and performance. In 2014, after a long time, Rajasthan was the first Indian state that introduced labour reforms in the Industrial Disputes Act (1947), the Factories Act (1948), the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act (1970), and the Apprentices Act (1961). Exploiting this unique quasi-natural experiment, the authors apply a difference-in-difference framework using the Annual Survey of Industries longitudinal data of India’s manufacturing establishments. Their results show that reforms had an unintended consequence of the decline in labour use. Also, worryingly, the flexibility resulted in a disproportionate decline in the directly employed worker. Evidence suggests that the reforms positively impact the value-added and productivity of the establishments. The strength of these effects varies depending on the underlying industry and reform structure. These findings prove robust to a set of specifications.
  • Topic: Economics, Labor Issues, Reform, Employment, Regulation
  • Political Geography: India
  • Author: Rajendran Narayanan, Sakina Dhorajiwala, Chakradhar Buddha
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Sustainable Employment, Azim Premji University
  • Abstract: The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) provides up to 100 days of work in a year for every rural household at a minimum wage. The Act has several landmark worker-centric provisions. For the implementation of MGNREGA, for the first time in the country, a transaction-based Management Information System (MIS) has been made available in the public domain; a feather in the cap of transparency. However, there are several critical questions to be examined in this regard. Our main focus in this article is to explore the tensions between technocracy and democratic values/participation in the context of MGNREGA and its associated MIS. We use our action research on information-based interventions in several states to examine whether the MGNREGA MIS incorporates democratic values, whether it has been inclusive or if it has widened the existing inequities. We use specific examples to illustrate how such an information system has been used to subvert the legal rights of workers. We underscore that technological interventions, with a compassionate human-centred design are potentially powerful tools for transparency, accountability, and grievance redressal. However, technology alone can neither enhance participatory democracy nor reduce socio-economic inequalities.
  • Topic: Economics, Science and Technology, Labor Issues, Democracy, Employment, Artificial Intelligence
  • Political Geography: India
  • Author: Rosa Abraham, Amit Basole, Surbhi Kesar
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Sustainable Employment, Azim Premji University
  • Abstract: Using the CMIE’s Consumer Pyramids Household Survey, we track a panel of households prior to the lockdown (in December 2019), during the lockdown (in April 2020) and afterwards (in August 2020) to investigate the employment and income effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and its associated containment measures. We identify four distinct employment experiences during the pandemic for those who were in the workforce just prior to the lockdown: no loss of employment (“No effect”), loss of employment followed by recovery (“Recovery”), loss of employment with no recovery (“No recovery”), and a delayed loss of employment (“Delayed job loss”). Overall, 54% of individuals experienced no job loss, while 30% lost work in April but recovered by August. 12% had not recovered employment as of August 2020. We analyse how these trajectories vary across different social and economic characteristics to quantify contractions and recovery in the labour market and the extent to which the vulnerabilities vary across different social groups, employment arrangements, and industries. We find that women were substantially more likely to lose employment as well as less likely to recover employment. Job loss was also more severe for lower castes as compared to intermediate and upper castes and for daily wage workers as compared to regular wage workers. Younger workers were particularly vulnerable to job loss compared to older workers. Having lost employment in April, younger workers were also less likely to recover employment in August. Finally, for those who were employed in both December 2019 and August 2020, we examine the changes in employment arrangements. We find a much greater frequency of transitions from wage employment to self-employment, more than that in the seasonally comparable period last year (Dec 2018 to Aug 2019). Our results call for urgent additional fiscal measures to counteract these effects.
  • Topic: Economics, Labor Issues, Employment, Unemployment, Pandemic, Job Creation, Consumerism
  • Political Geography: India
  • Author: Zico Dasgupta
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Sustainable Employment, Azim Premji University
  • Abstract: One of the central concerns against increasing expenditures in the recent period has been the possibility of an adverse impact on debt-GDP ratio. Once stability of debt-ratio is regarded as a policy-objective, the aggregate expenditure that is consistent with the stability condition gets determined by the given level of output growth rate and revenue receipts. Instead of perceiving expenditures to be determined by the debt-stability condition, this short note attempts to lay bare the conditions under which the debt-stability condition is restored despite increasing the growth rate of non-capital primary expenditure to a targeted level. The targeted level of growth rate of non-capital expenditures can be perceived to be one which compensates for the income loss of labour during the pandemic. In contrast to conventional wisdom, the possibility of increasing such expenditures is explored not by reducing capital expenditures, but rather by increasing the latter. Using the multiplier value of capital expenditures estimated by the RBI, it is argued that the debt-ratio would remain unchanged despite increasing the growth rate of non capital primary expenditure if the capital expenditures growth rate is allowed to increase in a specific proportion.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Political Economy, Labor Issues, GDP, Employment, Fiscal Policy
  • Political Geography: India
  • Author: Santosh Mehrotra
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Sustainable Employment, Azim Premji University
  • Abstract: This paper briefly examines the performance of each of the five pillars of India’s TVET ecosystem. It also discusses the poor design and implementation of a national vocational qualification framework. It goes to discuss the latest development in the field of education: the National Education Policy 2020 and its view on TVET, and finds it seriously wanting. The paper argues that if India does not want its tertiary education system to be overwhelmed by the massification of school education that occurred since early noughties, it must divert increasing numbers of secondary graduates to vocational education and training. Together with a rising number of jobs in the non-agricultural sector, to which India’s youth aspire to, strengthening vocational education offers the prospect of India potentially realizing its demographic dividend, in the same way that many East Asian countries. If India’s TVET system continues to lack vision, strategy and coherence to underpin the country’s aspiration to become a high human development country, we risk frittering away our dividend.
  • Topic: Economics, Education, Labor Issues, Employment, Training, Vocational Training
  • Political Geography: India
  • Author: Purna Chandra Parida, Yogesh Suri
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Sustainable Employment, Azim Premji University
  • Abstract: This paper makes an attempt to do an assessment of the impact of COVID-19 on employment and migration in India. The analysis is based on up-to-date facts and figures available in the public domain on economic growth, employment and migration. Using the employment elasticity approach, the study estimates employment loss during 2020-21 owing to the negative impact of COVID-19 on economic activities. The results of the study suggest that the country may witness job loss with the tune of 18.5  18.8 million in the current fiscal year. This in turn would shoot up the unemployment rate from 5.8% in 2018-19 to 8.9% in 2020-21, warranting a coordinated and focused approach from both the Central and State governments to uplift the confidence of the people and bring back the lost jobs, particularly the migrant workers. The study also emphasises on Central government’s urgent attention and action plan for uplifting the rural economy in order to revive India’s economy in the short run.
  • Topic: Economics, Migration, Labor Issues, Employment, Economic Growth, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: India
  • Author: Jenny Sulfath, Balu Sunilraj
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Sustainable Employment, Azim Premji University
  • Abstract: This paper attempts to look at the ways informality is conceptualized in India and argues that the problems with the laws pertaining to informal labour are not simply an implementation issue, but the design of the labour laws itself exclude informal labour. While reviewing the history of labour laws in India and the social history of labour participation, the paper also examines the current change in the political approach to labour by changing the labour laws in the pretext of the pandemic. Focussing on the changes made in labour laws in Madhya Pradesh the paper argues that these changes would further informalise the workers intensifying the crisis.
  • Topic: Economics, Labor Issues, Employment, Informal Economy
  • Political Geography: India
  • Author: Rosa Abraham, Amit Basole, Surbhi Kesar
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Sustainable Employment, Azim Premji University
  • Abstract: The Covid-19 pandemic has created unprecedented disruptions in labour markets across the world including loss of employment and decline in incomes. Using panel data from India, we investigate the differential impact of the shock on labour market outcomes for male and female workers. We find that, conditional on being in the workforce prior to the pandemic, women were seven times more likely to lose work during the nationwide lockdown, and conditional on losing work, eleven times more likely to not return to work subsequently, compared to men. Using logit regressions on a sample stratified by gender, we find that daily wage and young workers, whether men or women, were more likely to face job loss. Education shielded male workers from job loss, whereas highly educated female workers were more vulnerable to job loss. Marriage had contrasting effects for men and women, with married women less likely to return to work and married men more likely to return to work. Religion and gender intersect to exacerbate the disproportionate impact, with Muslim women more likely to not return to work, unlike Muslim men where we find religion having no significant impact. Finally, for those workers who did return to work, we find that a large share of men in the workforce moved to self-employment or daily wage work, in agriculture, trade or construction. For women, on the other hand, there is limited movement into alternate employment arrangements or industries. This suggests that typical ‘fallback’ options for employment do not exist for women. During such a shock, women are forced to exit the workforce whereas men negotiate across industries and employment arrangements.
  • Topic: Economics, Gender Issues, Labor Issues, Women, Employment, Labor Market
  • Political Geography: India
  • Author: Kunal Mangal
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Sustainable Employment, Azim Premji University
  • Abstract: Government jobs in India are valuable, not just because they pay relatively higher wages, but also because they provide many valuable amenities, such as lifetime tenure, access to bribes, and prestige. Does the value of these amenities compete with the nominal wage itself? I use the observed search behavior of candidates preparing for highly structured competitive exams for government jobs to infer a lower bound on the total value of a government job, including amenities. Based on a sample of 120 male candidates preparing for state-level civil service exams in Pune, Maharashtra, I estimate a total value of at least 425,000 INR per month. This estimate implies that the amenity value of a government job is at least 81% of total compensation. The high amenity value is not driven by misinformed beliefs about the nominal wage, nor by a high value placed on the process of studying itself. I conclude with a discussion of the implications of these findings for policy and the questions it raises for future research.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Employment, Public Sector, Job Creation, Workforce
  • Political Geography: India
  • Author: Rahul Menon, Paaritosh Nath
  • Publication Date: 07-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Sustainable Employment, Azim Premji University
  • Abstract: Using two rounds of the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) covering the periods 2017-18 and 2018-19, we construct a panel of urban Indian individuals aged 15 to 65, and analyse the dynamics of their participation – or non-participation – in the labour force. We construct transition probabilities to study the movement of individuals through three distinct statuses – employment, unemployment and non-participation – at the aggregate level and for different demographic groups. We find evidence of considerable movements from the labour force to non-participation; there exists a significant discouraged worker effect as well as a pronounced movement from employment outside the labour force, specifically for women. A majority of those unemployed in the beginning of the year remain so at the end of the year, indicating the presence of long-term unemployment. The reduction in unemployment rates from 2017-18 to 2018-19 hides significant weaknesses in Indian urban labour markets. This study represents an original contribution to the field of Indian labour economics, given the paucity of large-scale studies of the dynamics of Indian labour.
  • Topic: Economics, Migration, Labor Issues, Employment, Labor Market, Workforce
  • Political Geography: India
  • Author: Deepti Goel, Rosa Abraham, Rahul Lahoti
  • Publication Date: 08-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Sustainable Employment, Azim Premji University
  • Abstract: The efficacy of survey-based policy recommendations is primarily dictated by the quality of data collected in the first place. Is the survey truly representative of the population it claims to characterise? Are respondents voicing their true opinions or are they playing to the gallery? Did enumerator bias creep into the data? These are questions that most users of surveys have, but are typically brushed aside in the race to get the analyses out. While there are no foolproof measures to ensure that survey data are authentic, certain steps can be taken to improve their dependability. One such is the use of what is called ‘para data’ (data about the process of data collection), to streamline enumerator practices, and thereby improve the reliability of the data being collected. This report details our experience of using para data to improve the quality of the India Working Survey (IWS).
  • Topic: Economics, Employment, Survey, Data, Workforce
  • Political Geography: India
  • Author: Zico Dasgupta
  • Publication Date: 08-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Sustainable Employment, Azim Premji University
  • Abstract: This paper perceives fiscal support as a policy instrument and examines alternative policy frameworks that can simultaneously stabilize labour income, output and debt-GDP ratio. The need to stabilize labour income over and above output follows from the possibility of income growth rate of labour falling below output growth rate. This paper points out the limitations of sound finance regime in meeting these targets and proposes an alternative policy framework which is termed as Debt-Neutral Functional Finance with Fiscal Support (DNFS). The DNFS framework highlights the role of development financial institutions and the need for a floor level of corporate tax-GDP ratio.
  • Topic: Economics, Employment, Fiscal Policy, Workforce
  • Political Geography: India
  • Author: Surbhi Kesar, Rosa Abraham, Rahul Lahoti, Paaritosh Nath, Amit Basole
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Sustainable Employment, Azim Premji University
  • Abstract: We analyze findings from a large-scale survey of around 5000 respondents across 12 states of India to study the impact of COVID-19 pandemic containment measures (lockdown) on employment, livelihoods, food security and access to relief measures. We find a massive increase in unemployment, an equally dramatic fall in earnings among informal workers, large increases in food insecurity, depletion of savings and patchy coverage of relief measures. Two-thirds of our respondents lost work. The few informal workers who were still employed during the lockdown experienced more than a fifty percent drop in their earnings. Even among regular wage workers, half received either no salary or reduced salary during the lockdown. Almost eighty percent of surveyed households experienced a reduction in their food intake and a similar percentage of urban households did not have enough money to pay next month's rent. We also use a set of logistic regressions to identify how employment loss and food intake varies with individual and householdlevel characteristics. We find that migrants and urban Muslims are significantly worse off with respect to employment and food security. Among employment categories, self-employed workers were more food secure. The Public Distribution System (PDS) system was seen to have the widest reach among social security measures. However, even under PDS, 16 percent of vulnerable urban households did not have access to government rations. Further, half of the respondents reported not receiving any cash transfers (state or central). We conclude that much more is needed in the way of direct fiscal support that has been announced thus far by state and central governments in India.
  • Topic: Economics, Labor Issues, Employment, Unemployment, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: India
  • Author: Amit Basole, Paaritosh Nath
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Sustainable Employment, Azim Premji University
  • Abstract: The recently released data from the 2017-2018 Periodic Labour Force Survey have created a controversy regarding the quantity of employment generated in the past few years in India. Estimates ranging from an absolute increase of 23 million to an absolute decline of 15.5 million have been published. In this paper we show that some of the variation in estimates can be explained by the way in which populations are projected based on Census 2011 data. We estimate the change in employment using the cohort-component method of population projection. We show that for men total employment rose but the increase fell far short of the increase in working age population. For women, employment fell. The decline is concentrated among women engaged in part-time or occasional work in agriculture and construction.
  • Topic: Economics, Labor Issues, Employment, Workforce
  • Political Geography: India
  • Author: Zico Dasgupta
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Sustainable Employment, Azim Premji University
  • Abstract: Does there exist a trade-off between labour’s income share and output growth rate? Or does a reduction in wage share in itself reduces the output growth rate? These questions have returned to the centre stage in the midst of India’s present crisis as the government sought the dilution and suspension of labour laws as a counter-cyclical policy instrument. In the absence of any other stimulus or countervailing factors, the impact of such a policy would hinge on the relationship between income distribution and effective demand. This paper attempts to lay bare this relationship for the Indian economy through an empirical analysis of India’s macro data and a theoretical model on the basis of regression results.
  • Topic: Economics, Labor Issues, Employment, Demand
  • Political Geography: India
  • Author: Surbhi Kesar
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Sustainable Employment, Azim Premji University
  • Abstract: We examine the Indian economy during a peak period of high growth between 2005-2012 to analyze nature and patterns of household-level transitions across the different sectors of the economy and to relate these transitions to the broader process of structural change. We use a pan-India household-level panel data to categorize households according to their primary income sources into seven sectors characterized by varying degrees of formality/informality and various production structures and labour processes. We find that even this this relatively brief period, there has been a very large volume of transitions of households across these sectors. However, despite such volumes of transitions, the overall economic structure, and its segmentations, has continued to be reproduced, along with a regeneration of ‘traditional’ informal spaces that were often expected to dissolve over time with high economic growth. To ascertain the nature of these transitions – ‘favorable’ or ‘unfavorable’ – in terms of economic well-being of households, we employ a counterfactual analysis. We find that a majority of the transitions in the economy during the period of analysis have been ‘unfavourable’ in nature, with large proportion of households transitioning to sectors that are not ‘optimal’ locations for them, given their socio-economic characteristics. Further, using a multinomial logit regression framework, we find that the likelihood and nature of these transitions significantly vary with household characteristics, some of which, like social caste, are structurally given and cannot be optimally chosen by households. This dynamic process of reproducing a rather stagnant structure, along with substantial ‘unfavourable’ transitions towards ‘traditional’ informal economic spaces that are continuously reshuffled and reconstituted, provide insights into the complexity of India’s development trajectory that is often glossed over in the literature.
  • Topic: Economics, Labor Issues, Employment, Economic Growth, Economic Development
  • Political Geography: India
  • Author: Rahul De
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Sustainable Employment, Azim Premji University
  • Abstract: This paper is based on fieldwork I had undertaken regarding tribal migrant workers in the construction sector, in Ahmedabad in May-July 2018, coordinated by Aajevika Bureau(AB). I had undertaken this fieldwork to assess the work of AB and advise them about strategies to collectivize migrant labour groups. While interacting with a particular social group (Bhil tribals from South West Rajasthan) who work in the construction sector, I struggled to capture the specificity of their experience through the concept of informal labour. This paper is an attempt to characterize the specificity of their social experience, while also, reframing the concept of informal labour. I use the concept of labour process (Michael Burawoy: Manufacturing Consent) to argue that there is not a binary or one-dimensional power relationship between informal labour and owner/state/capital, but instead, the process of surplus appropriation occurs at multiple nodes through different agents. In this paper, I have identified multiple modes of surplus extraction which are embedded as institutions or social norms in the labour process. Further, I argue that there is a close link between the status of tribal workers as marginalized within society, and their status as displaced and marginalized in their living areas and workplace. This difference translates into identity based discrimination faced in the city, as well as, structural exclusion from the governance apparatus faced as migrants. Therefore, tribal migrant workers do not earn enough to subsist and are highly dependent on early child birth, non-remunerated services of their family and the social security net provided by their village community. This paper concludes that primitive accumulation, fragmenting land ownership and indebtedness creates a supply of tribal migrants, who have no other recourse to employment and are forced to work in the deplorable conditions found in the construction sector. Tribal migrant workers in the informal sector are an important population to target for social policies, because they are more vulnerable than other social identities. This paper hopes to contribute to the framing of interventions and policies that civil society organizations and state authorities can implement to improve the terms of employment and working conditions of informal labour.
  • Topic: Economics, Labor Issues, Employment, Migrant Workers
  • Political Geography: India
  • Author: Girish Bahal, Anand Shrivastava
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Sustainable Employment, Azim Premji University
  • Abstract: Controlling for monetary policy, government transfers are potentially inflationary. This, however, may not be true when the economy is demandconstrained. Using a panel data of 17 Indian states over 30 years, we show that government transfers via welfare programs do not lead to inflation. For identification, we use a narrative shock series of transfer spending that is based on the introduction of new welfare programs. We then look at a specific program, NREGA, which has been shown to increase rural wages, and show that its implementation did not increase inflation.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Labor Issues, Monetary Policy, Employment, Inflation, Demand
  • Political Geography: India
  • Author: Tuhinsubhra Giri, Santosh Mehrotra
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Sustainable Employment, Azim Premji University
  • Abstract: Most international development economics and industrial organization literature emphasises the importance of SMEs (small and medium enterprises) as important to output, but especially to employment generation. Countries have different definitions for SMEs. In India the MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises) are defined in terms of investment in plant and machinery or equipment. The MSME Ministry (Annual Report, Government of India 2017–18) stated that the sector accounts for 45% of the manufacturing output and 40% of the total exports of the country; also that MSMEs accounted for 30.74% of GDP in 2014– 15. Not surprising, MSMEs are considered a driving force of the economy.
  • Topic: Economics, Labor Issues, Employment, Manufacturing, Economic Development
  • Political Geography: India
  • Author: Raavi Aggarwal
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Sustainable Employment, Azim Premji University
  • Abstract: This article analyses relationships between the implementation of state-level industrial policies in India and manufacturing sector economic performance (employment and gross value added), utilising data from the Annual Survey of Industries conducted by the Government of India. I employ panel data fixed-effects regression models to evaluate the associations between the industrial policy and state-industry specific performance over the 2007-08 to 2014-15 period, incorporating potential effects of the state government's political alignment, infrastructure provision and educational expenditure in the state. The results provide evidence of a positive correlation between industrial policy implementation and firm output and employment, by around 12.6 - 14 per cent. However, subsequent introductions of an industrial policy are negatively associated with employment and are uncorrelated with industrial GVA. This analysis has implications for economic policy in light of the Central Government's plans to implement a revised industrial policy at the national scale.
  • Topic: Economics, Industrial Policy, Employment, Manufacturing
  • Political Geography: India