Saturday, March 21, 2009

Elections in India -Jobs??

Earlier this week, I had a call from Mr Reji John of Financial Chronicle-wanting to know my opinion if the elections in India could help the job scene in India.
To me-it was a stunner. Somehow, I have never ever realised if there was any direct correlation!
Over the last couple of months, I suspected though-that elections is perhaps one of the reasons why no new jobs were on offer!!
Looking back, it is shocking to realise that during the last 4 months, India has had only part time Finance Ministers!! Even as the whole world is reeling under the economic downturn, and other governments are trying all tricks to correct the situation, it is a sheer miracle that our country is still among the fastest growing economies in the world. Add a part time Prime Minister for a month around the time for announcing the fiscal budget -it certainly cannot be a great recipe for growth!!
One can imagine the lack of clarity on national policies would have certainly put a lot of projects on hold. Especially -post Satyam saga, and the rumours of nexus between industry and politicians, I feel, a lot of companies have delayed announcements of new projects till the elections are over-lest they attract any attention for party donations!! More so, since this time, it is an unique situation-both at the national and state (especially Andhra Pradesh where I am residing) levels, there does not seem any clear favourites among the parties in the race of power. Well, the candidates for the seats are yet to be finalised, and there is a great likelihood of disgruntled leaders-moving across to other parties even as we approach the dates. One shudders to think of a situation-post election-if coalitions need to be formed, and the consequent horse trading etc.
In any case, it is a known fact that the rural folks are the 'vote banks' for any party! So, I never even for a moment, had thought the 'urban voter' or even a 'job seeker' could be the beneficiary of any attention from any politician :-)!
Would elections lead to less job losses? I trust Reji was alluring to the re-instating of the Jet Airways employees post the political interference. To me that was more an exception -as the media pays more attention to the glamorous industries in urban areas-while blissfully ignoring the thousands of workers in the upcountry locations -read the diamond & textile industries!! Not to mention the thousands of those working in unsung SME sector-that is being hit by the global sentiments of the downturn!
Ironically-most running governments too -in the wake of elections, are forced not to take any decisions -lest they be termed populist measures. As I write, in Andhra, thanks to the power (the electricity kind :-)) crisis, the local industry is already languishing due to production losses! Do we see more announcements of losses of jobs not just in the manufacturing, but also IT/ITes industries as the margins are anyway thinning??
Its anybody's guess that a lot of unemployed and underemployed professionals might be available and motivated to land up at the election booths!!
Am I missing the larger picture?? I am looking forward to the usual offline messages from some of you :-)!
PS In the context, I am really surprised that BJP has announced a Information Technology vision!! I shall be glad to eat my own words!! Here is a prayer-may we raise hopes for a toast to more jobs-courtesy more evolved elections and better governance!


AB said...

Whats your take on the thousands of crores of money that would be
pumped into the market by the candidates in the next 2 months?
Obviously majority of it will go to Petroleum companies,Liquor companies, small/medium
eating joints, printing presses...where does it go from there? post elections does this big chunk of money revives /reverses the present market sentiment?

Arunn Bhagavathula

AK Menon said...

Brilliant point Arunn!

Today's newspaper mentions that Biryani sales in the twin cities -has increased by 40% since the elections was announced-as more political groups are having regular meetings :-)!

You can add diverse industries as chartered helicopter services, soft drinks & private transport vehicles too.

As per Center for Media Studies, the amount is expected to be in the range of 10,000 crores-which is still only 0.2%of the economy. But in the current environment this is a welcome relief!!