'India must focus on jobs for growth'

Washington, June 17 (IANS) India must make employment a key driver of its growth strategy as higher economic growth by itself does not create more jobs, according to a leading US research organisation advocating sustainable development.

"Indian policymakers cannot assume that higher economic growth will automatically lead to more jobs," Sabina Dewan, founder and director of Just Jobs at the Washington based Centre for American Progress told IANS in an e-mail interview.

Currently headed by Indian-American policy wonk Neera Tanden, who has served in both the Obama and Clinton administrations as well as presidential campaigns and think tanks, CAP was founded in 2003 by John Podesta, who served as President Bill Clinton's White House chief of staff.

Despite high levels of economic growth, India's economy created 60 million jobs between 2000 and 2005, but only 2 million between 2005 and 2010, she pointed out citing data from the Institute of Manpower Research.

"The government must prioritise employment as a key driver of their growth strategy," said Dewan, who currently leads the India operations of Just Jobs programme, "dedicated to creating better livelihoods for more people around the world."

"This entails moving from more capital-intensive to more labour-intensive growth," said Dewan whose research examines the nexus between economic opportunity and economic growth, development and stability.

"The government must undertake necessary reforms to improve the quality of education and skills development, streamline regulations, develop infrastructure, and improve access to credit and access to energy."

In India Just Jobs, which was launched in October 2010, works with partners like the Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA) and Saath.

"Our work in India ranges from research on solutions to India's jobless growth to examining what works and what doesn't in preparing India's youth for a 21st century labour market," Dewan said.

"My professional and personal goal is to be a part of ensuring that India's economic trajectory is upward bound, especially through the creation of just jobs toward a growing, strong and stable middle class," she said.

With partners in countries from South Africa to Norway to India, Just Jobs conducts joint research and advocacy on how to create more and better employment, especially for young people, Dewan said describing it as "one of the most pressing challenges of our time."

"We believe that good job creation is essential for reducing poverty, and generating more equal, inclusive and sustainable economic growth."

In addition to the Just Jobs project, CAP is part of the Track II dialogue on energy and global climate change with India.

CAP also engages in dialogues about India's role in anti-terrorism efforts and maintaining peace and security in the region especially vis-à-vis Afghanistan and Pakistan, Dewan said.

The think tank also recently launched the Just Jobs Index (JJI) that

"provides an aggregate measure of one of the most important questions facing global policy makers: are we creating enough just jobs?" she said

While other global economic indices, such as the World Bank's Doing Business project or the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Report focus on the corporate side of the global economy, JJI also addresses labour and employment.

This would help researchers evaluate the effectiveness of economies in

providing just jobs complete with appropriate remuneration, good working conditions, and with room for upward mobilityfor their citizens along a number of sub-dimensions.

Yet despite the pressing need for such an index, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have yet to respond to the launch of the JJI, she lamented.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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