Transforming India 2030:
Strategies for Sustainable Development Goals

15-17th February, 2017
Pune, India

Day I: Track IV

Day I - Track IV: Jobs and Economic Growth

'Growth does not just happen. It must be consciously chosen as an overarching goal by a country’s leadership .... In all fast-growing economies policy makers understand that successful development entails a decades-long commitment, and a fundamental bargain between the present and the future .... This bargain will be accepted only if the country’s policy makers communicate a credible vision of the future and a strategy for getting there. They must be trusted as stewards of the economy and their promises of future rewards must be believed.'

[The Growth Report: Strategies for Sustained Growth and Inclusive Development (2008)]

Economic growth may be looked upon as a function of growth of employment and productivity: increase in either or both of these augments growth. However, it’s necessary to strike a balance between the two, especially in a labour abundant low productivity economy like India, i.e. growth of employment in the economy should not be at the cost of productivity and vice versa. So far, the contribution of employment has declined and that of productivity increased in the growth of GDP, such that during the last decade, 80 per cent of growth was accounted for by productivity increase and only 20 per cent by growth in employment. Long term employment growth in India has been about 2 per cent per annum but has declined to about 1.5 per cent during the last decade, when GDP growth has raised to around 7.5 per cent. A steep rise in export has also not delivered on employment front as anticipated. Also, in the recent years, exports have taken a hit, further adding to the woes of the economy (in 2014 exports grew at a rate of -0.76% vis-à-vis the average annual growth rate of 12.28% from 2010-2013).

In the Indian economy, where surplus labour looms large, employment augmenting growth is of absolute necessity - ‘jobless’ growth is certainly not the desirable form of growth. Acting towards generation or creation of employment with no heed to productivity and wages of workers would hinder growth and development of the economy, especially when productivity and income levels in India are generally low.

Emphasis has to be on ‘productive’ and ‘remunerative’ employment: the new employment that is generated has to be at increasing levels of productivity in order that it does not assume poverty‐ perpetuating or poverty-generating nature (Papola, 2013).

The 8th goal of the SDG – Jobs and Economic Growth, prompts the economies to achieve this very nexus. The objectives of the goal strive to attain sustainability in the economic growth rate by achieving higher level of economic productivity through diversification, technological upgrading and innovation. This needs to be supported with development-oriented policies that support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and encourage the formalization and growth of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises by providing greater access to financial services. At the same time, Indian economy need to focus on 11 resource efficiency in consumption and production in order to stunt environmental degradation. Equality in gender, disabilities and wages with respect to employment is also to be targeted. Eradication of forced labour and child labour should help in pushing a greater part of the population towards education and skill development programmes which will further contribute in building a stronger pool of human capital that will lead to the enhancement of the economy. Enhancing the quality and safety of work environment is another crucial objective of the goal to ensure that the employees can deliver their best for the economy. Protecting the labour rights will create a sense of belonging and efficiency. Promotion of local culture and products, strengthening domestic financial institutions and increasing trade-aid are some of the other factors that should help in creating more jobs for the economy. All of these taken together should enable the economy to create productive employment which will be able to support the minimum rate of growth set at 7 per cent.

The sub-themes for discussions and papers related to this track include:

  • Strategies for broad based employment oriented economic growth – entrepreneurship, SMEs, renewed role of Public Sector Undertakings, etc.
  • Strategies to enhance productivity– R&D, innovations and formalisation of informal employment
  • Targeting sectors and policies with potential for job creation