Chidambaram, Derek O'brien Target Modi Govt Over Economy In RS Debate

(MENAFN- IANS) New Delhi, Dec 5 (IANS) Senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram on Tuesday slammed the Central government, saying despite India becoming a large economy, and growing at the fastest rate in the world with the largest FDI inflows, the growth is not seen on the ground.

The former Finance Minister also accused the BJP government of steering a jobless growth, questioning if its policies are in favour of the rich.

Participating in a short-duration discussion in the Rajya Sabha on the economic situation in the country, Chidambaram said: "Despite India becoming a large economy, growing at the fastest rate in the world with the largest FDI inflows, the growth is not seen on the ground."

He said that India's worker population rate is 46 per cent which is quite low but acceptable given the various circumstances in the country.

"Of the worker population, that is 46 per cent of the total population, male workers are 69 per cent but female is only 22 per cent. Of the worker population, less than 50 per cent actually work," he said.

"It means that only 23 per cent of the people work. This is more or less constant in the last nine and half years of the BJP government. Why, I ask, if we have such scintillating growth, why is this number not improving?" Chidambaram remarked.

He also cited the official periodic survey data and said the unemployment rate in the age group 15-24 is 23.22 per cent while 42 per cent among graduates are under the age of 25. He said that unemployment rate is 23 per cent among graduates between the age of 25-29 and nearly 10 per cent in graduates between the age of 30-34.

He also stated that one out of four graduates will be unemployed and even until the age of 35, one out of ten will be unemployed.

"Why is this spirited growth, scintillating growth not turning into jobs?" he asked.

On the issue of price rise, the Congress leader said that even today, the CPI inflation is above the tolerance limit of 4-6 per cent of the Reserve Bank of India and food inflation is 9.2 per cent.

"What does the combination of high unemployment and high prices mean? It means that the impact will be felt in cut in domestic consumption, cut in household consumption," Chidambaram asserted.

He also stated that the net financial assets of households have plummeted to the lowest level of 5.1 per cent and it means that people are consuming less, people are borrowing more, they are liquidating their household assets and savings and their net financial savings has come down to a historical low of 50 years.

He asserted that the consequences of such developments are felt in child malnutrition and their education and mental ability.

"Ultimately, the question is who is this government for? Is it for the poor, or is its policy so skewed that it is in favour of the rich?" he asked.

He also pointed out that 23 crore people of the country are poor despite the poverty bar being very low at Rs 1,286 per month per person in urban areas and Rs 1,089 per month per person in rural areas. "It shows up in inequality. The bottom 50 per cent own 3 per cent of national wealth and gets 13 per cent of the national income. And the top 5 per cent owns 60 per cent of the national wealth and the top 1 per cent holds 22 per cent of the national income. This kind of growth is unacceptable. We need more balanced growth," he said.

Initiating the discussion, Trinamool Congress member Derek O'Brien said how India's economy is looking like depends on "through whose eyes you are looking through" and will be good if it is seen from the perspective of stock market growth, the rich and billionaires and also from a GDP growth point of view.

"But if you look at the economy through the eyes of any family anywhere in the country, what will those eyes looking at the economy tell you? Those eyes will tell you that from 2014 to 2023, the price of rice has gone up by 56 per cent, the price of wheat by 59 per cent, milk by 61 per cent, tomatoes by 115 per cent and tur dal by 120 per cent. Let's look at the economy through the eyes of a family - LPG up 120 per cent or through the eyes of a MGNREGA worker, not paid for work done two years ago, or a young woman - 23 per cent unemployment."

He also asked if the wealth that has been created is passed on equitably to the citizens while highlighting that rural inflation has turned higher than urban inflation for the first time in six years.

"Yes, let the stock market go up, let the billionaires go up but spare a thought, more than a thought, for the marginalised and for the vulnerable," he added.




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