India in Crisis: Unemployment and Hunger Persist After Waves of COVID

India lost 6.8 million salaried jobs and 3.5 million entrepreneurs in November alone. Many among the unemployed can no longer afford to buy food, causing a significant spike in hunger. The country's economy is finding it hard to recover from COVID waves and lockdowns, according to data from multiple sources. At the same time, the Indian government has reported an 8.4% jump in economic growth in the July-to-September period compared with a contraction of 7.4% for the same period a year earlier.  This raises the following questions: Has India had jobless growth? Or its GDP figures are fudged? If the Indian economy fails to deliver for the common man, will Prime Minister Narendra Modi step up his anti-Pakistan and anti-Muslim rhetoric to maintain his popularity among Hindus?

Labor Participation Rate in India. Source: CMIE

Unemployment Crisis:

India lost 6.8 million salaried jobs and its labor participation rate (LPR) slipped from 40.41% to  40.15% in November, 2021, according to the Center for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE).  In addition to the loss of salaried jobs, the number of entrepreneurs in India declined by 3.5 million. India's labor participation rate of 40.15% is lower than Pakistan's 48%.   Here's an except of the latest CMIE report:

"India’s LPR is much lower than global levels. According to the World Bank, the modelled ILO estimate for the world in 2020 was 58.6 per cent (https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SL.TLF.CACT.ZS). The same model places India’s LPR at 46 per cent. India is a large country and its low LPR drags down the world LPR as well. Implicitly, most other countries have a much higher LPR than the world average. According to the World Bank’s modelled ILO estimates, there are only 17 countries worse than India on LPR. Most of these are middle-eastern countries. These are countries such as Jordan, Yemen, Algeria, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Syria, Senegal and Lebanon. Some of these countries are oil-rich and others are unfortunately mired in civil strife. India neither has the privileges of oil-rich countries nor the civil disturbances that could keep the LPR low. Yet, it suffers an LPR that is as low as seen in these countries".

Labor Participation Rates in India and Pakistan. Source: World Bank...

Labor Participation Rates for Selected Nations. Source: World Bank/ILO

Youth  unemployment for ages15-24 in India is 24.9%, the highest in South Asia region. It is 14.8% in Bangladesh 14.8% and 9.2% in Pakistan, according to the International Labor Organization and the World Bank.  

Youth Unemployment in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. Source: ILO, WB

In spite of the headline GDP growth figures highlighted by the Indian and world media, the fact is that it has been jobless growth. The labor participation rate (LPR) in India has been falling for more than a decade. The LPR in India has been below Pakistan's for several years, according to the International Labor Organization (ILO). 

Even before the COVID19 pandemic, India's labor participation rate was around 43%, lower than its neighbors'. Now it has slipped further to about 40%. Meanwhile, the Indian government has reported an 8.4% jump in economic growth in the July-to-September period compared with a contraction of 7.4% for the same period a year earlier.  This raises the following questions: Has India had jobless growth? Or its GDP figures are fudged?  If the Indian economy fails to deliver for the common man, will Prime Minister Narendra Modi step up his anti-Pakistan and anti-Muslim rhetoric to maintain his popularity among Hindus?
Indian Employment Trends By Sector. Source: CMIE Via Business Standard

Hunger Crisis:
'
India ranks 94th among 107 nations ranked by World Hunger Index in 2020. Other South Asians have fared better: Pakistan (88), Nepal (73), Bangladesh (75), Sri Lanka (64) and Myanmar (78) – and only Afghanistan has fared worse at 99th place. The COVID19 pandemic has worsened India's hunger and malnutrition. Tens of thousands of Indian children were forced to go to sleep on an empty stomach as the daily wage workers lost their livelihood and Prime Minister Narendra Modi imposed one of the strictest lockdowns in the South Asian nationPakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan opted for "smart lockdown" that reduced the impact on daily wage earners. China, the place where COVID19 virus first emerged, is among 17 countries with the lowest level of hunger. 
World Hunger Rankings 2020. Source: World Hunger Index Report


India Among Worst Hit: 
 
India has a 17.3% child wasting rate, the worst in the South Asia region. Child stunting is also extremely high across South Asia. “Data from 1991 through 2014 for Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Pakistan showed that stunting is concentrated among children from households facing multiple forms of deprivation, including poor dietary diversity, low levels of maternal education, and household poverty,” the World Hunger Report said. China, the place where COVID19 virus first emerged, is among 17 countries with the lowest level of hunger. 

Hunger and malnutrition are worsening in parts of sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia because of the coronavirus pandemic, especially in low-income communities or those already stricken by continued conflict. 

India has performed particularly poorly because of one of the world's strictest lockdowns imposed by Prime Minister Modi to contain the spread of the virus. 

Hanke Annual Misery Index: 

Pakistanis are less miserable than Indians in the economic sphere, according to the Hanke Annual Misery Index (HAMI) published in early 2021 by Professor Steve Hanke. With India ranked 49th worst and Pakistan ranked 39th worst, both countries find themselves among the most miserable third of the 156 nations ranked. Hanke teaches Applied Economics at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. Hanke explains it as follows: "In the economic sphere, misery tends to flow from high inflation, steep borrowing costs, and unemployment. The surefire way to mitigate that misery is through economic growth. All else being equal, happiness tends to blossom when growth is strong, inflation and interest rates are low, and jobs are plentiful". Several key global indices, including misery index, happiness index, hunger index, food affordability index, labor force participation rate,  ILO’s minimum wage data, all show that people in Pakistan are better off than their counterparts in India.   
 

Pakistan's Real GDP: 

Vehicles and home appliance ownership data analyzed by Dr. Jawaid Abdul Ghani of Karachi School of Business Leadership suggests that the officially reported GDP significantly understates Pakistan's actual GDP.  Indeed, many economists believe that Pakistan’s economy is at least double the size that is officially reported in the government's Economic Surveys. The GDP has not been rebased in more than a decade. It was last rebased in 2005-6 while India’s was rebased in 2011 and Bangladesh’s in 2013. Just rebasing the Pakistani economy will result in at least 50% increase in official GDP.  A research paper by economists Ali Kemal and Ahmad Waqar Qasim of PIDE (Pakistan Institute of Development Economics) estimated in 2012 that the Pakistani economy’s size then was around $400 billion. All they did was look at the consumption data to reach their conclusion. They used the data reported in regular PSLM (Pakistan Social and Living Standard Measurements) surveys on actual living standards. They found that a huge chunk of the country's economy is undocumented. 

Pakistan's service sector which contributes more than 50% of the country's GDP is mostly cash-based and least documented. There is a lot of currency in circulation. According to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), the currency in circulation has increased to Rs. 7.4 trillion by the end of the financial year 2020-21, up from Rs 6.7 trillion in the last financial year,  a double-digit growth of 10.4% year-on-year.   Currency in circulation (CIC), as percent of M2 money supply and currency-to-deposit ratio, has been increasing over the last few years.  The CIC/M2 ratio is now close to 30%. The average CIC/M2 ratio in FY18-21 was measured at 28%, up from 22% in FY10-15. This 1.2 trillion rupee increase could have generated undocumented GDP of Rs 3.1 trillion at the historic velocity of 2.6, according to a report in The Business Recorder. In comparison to Bangladesh (CIC/M2 at 13%), Pakistan’s cash economy is double the size. Even a casual observer can see that the living standards in Pakistan are higher than those in Bangladesh and India. 

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Comment by Riaz Haq on March 31, 2022 at 12:13pm

Why #Citibank left #India. Some experts have blamed Indian #banking’s bad-loan crisis. Citi, which has been present in India for over a century, is not the first foreign bank to exit or scale down operations. #Modi #economy #BJP #Hindutva https://qz.com/india/2148597/ via @qzindia

Almost immediately after Citigroup’s announced its decision last year, FirstRand Bank, too, followed suit. South Africa‘s second-largest bank has $118 billion in assets in India.

Barclays, HSBC and Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, too, have downsized due to high capital requirements and costs.

Foreign banks have been struggling due to increased competition from domestic players, differences in compliance guidelines, and poor asset quality issues, among other reasons.

Some experts have blamed Indian banking’s bad-loan crisis.


“We believe our capital, investment dollars, and other resources are better deployed against higher returning opportunities in wealth management and our institutional businesses in Asia,” Citigroup’s global CEO Jane Fraser had said last year.

In 2013, RBI had announced guidelines for foreign banks, asking them to either operate through branch presence or set up wholly-owned subsidiaries to be treated at par with Indian banks. While the business models of some banks did not allow the subsidiary route, only a few got licences to open fresh branches.

Some have survived, though.

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 31, 2022 at 7:06pm

#India #Electricity Crisis Worst Since Oct 2021: Many northern states suffered hours-long power outages in October, when a crippling #coal shortage caused the worst electricity deficit in nearly five years. #EnergyCrisis #BJP #Modi #economy #unemployment https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/indias-march-electricity-...

The western state of Gujarat, one of the country's most industrialized, has ordered a staggered shutdown of "non-continuous process" industries in key cities next week, according to a government note reviewed by Reuters.


India's electricity shortage from March 1 to March 30 was its worst since October, a Reuters analysis of government data shows.

A surge in power demand in March has forced India to cut coal supplies to the non-power sector and put on hold plans for some fuel auctions for utilities without supply deals due to a slump in inventories.

Many northern states suffered hours-long power outages in October, when a crippling coal shortage caused the worst electricity deficit in nearly five years.

Shortages in the eastern state of Jharkhand and Uttarakhand in the north surpassed those of October, the latest data showed.

The western state of Gujarat, one of the country's most industrialised, has ordered a staggered shutdown of "non-continuous process" industries in key cities next week, according to a government note reviewed by Reuters.

A Gujarat energy department official said the move was due to power shortages and to facilitate continuous power supply to farmers, adding a similar strategy was last used in 2010. He declined to comment on how long the staggered shutdown will be in place.

The official declined to be named as he was not authorised to speak to the media.

The southern state of Andhra Pradesh and the tourist resort state of Goa, which registered marginal shortages in October, suffered deficits several times larger in March.

The deficit in March was 574 million kilowatt-hours, a measure that multiplies power level by duration, a Reuters analysis of data from federal grid regulator POSOCO showed.

That amounted to 0.5% of overall demand for the period, or half the deficit of 1% in October.

The northern states of Haryana, Rajasthan and Punjab and the eastern state of Bihar, some parts of which suffered widespread outages in October, accounted for most of the deficit in March, but shortfalls were lower, the data showed.

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 31, 2022 at 8:58pm

#India more than doubles price of locally produced #gas.The price of gas from regulated fields of state-owned ONGC and Oil India Ltd will rise to a record $6.10 per million British thermal unit from the current $2.90. #Energy #Economy #BJP #Modi https://www.livemint.com/industry/energy/india-more-than-doubles-do...

The Central Government on Thursday more than doubled the price of domestically produced natural gas for the six months beginning tomorrow (1 April), reflecting a surge in global prices.

The Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell of the federal oil ministry announced the new prices today.

This will raise the prices of gas sold to households, the power sector, industries and fertiliser firms, adding to overall inflation.

As per a notification issued by the oil ministry's PPAC, the price of gas from regulated fields of state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp Ltd and Oil India Ltd will rise to a record $6.10 per million British thermal unit from the current $2.90.

The rate paid for difficult fields like deepwater will rise to $9.92 for April-September from $6.13 per mmBtu, the notification stated.

India links prices of locally produced gas from old fields to a formula tied to global benchmarks, including Henry Hub, Alberta gas, NBP and Russian gas.

High natural gas prices will boost earnings of producer ONGC, Oil India Ltd and Reliance Industries.

India's annual retail inflation exceeded 6% for the second consecutive month in February.

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 3, 2022 at 1:14pm

India's jobless rate falls to 7.6% in March from 8.1% a month earlier: CMIE
Unemployment rate in the country is decreasing with the economy slowly returning to normal, according to CMIE data.

https://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/india-s-u...


Haryana's unemployment rate the highest in India, shows analysis
India's unemployment rate falls to 6.57%, lowest since March 2021: CMIE
Households have not recovered
Employment and the government
Unemployment falls in UP, on the rise in Punjab and Goa, shows data


Unemployment rate in the country is decreasing with the economy slowly returning to normal, according to CMIE data.

The Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy's monthly time series data revealed that the overall unemployment rate in India was 8.10 per cent in February 2022, which fell to 7.6 per cent in March.


On April 2, the ratio further dropped to 7.5 per cent, with urban unemployment rate at 8.5 per cent and rural at 7.1 per cent.

Retired professor of economics at Indian Statistical Institute Abhirup Sarkar said that though the overall unemployment rate is falling, it is still high for a "poor" country like India.

The decrease in the ratio shows that the economy is getting back on track after being hit by COVID-19 for two years, he said.

"But still, this unemployment rate is high for India which is a poor country. Poor people, particularly in rural areas, cannot afford to remain unemployed, for which they are taking up any job which comes in their way," Sarkar said.

According to the data, Haryana recorded the highest unemployment rate in March at 26.7 per cent, followed by Rajasthan and Jammu and Kashmir at 25 per cent each, Bihar at 14.4 per cent, Tripura at 14.1 per cent and West Bengal at 5.6 per cent.

In April 2021, the overall unemployment rate was 7.97 per cent and shot up to 11.84 per cent in May last year.

Karnataka and Gujarat registered the least unemployment rate at 1.8.per cent each in March, 2022.

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 15, 2022 at 7:12am

India's labour force shrinks by 3.8 million in March, lowest in eight months
SECTIONSIndia's labour force shrinks by 3.8 million in March, lowest in eight monthsBy Yogima Seth Sharma, ET BureauLast Updated: Apr 14, 2022, 06:18 PM IST

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/jobs/indias-labour-force-shrin...

India’s labour force shrunk by 3.8 million during March 2022 to 428 million, the lowest in eight months since July 2021 with both employment and unemployment falling last month which is the biggest sign of economic distress, the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy said.

According to CMIE, employment shrunk by 1.4 million to 396 million in March 2022 while the count of the unemployed fell by 2.4 million in March 2022. This resulted in a decline in the employment rate from 36.7% in February 2022 to 36.5% in March while the unemployment rate fell to 7.6% from 8.1% in February.

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 15, 2022 at 7:15am

The unemployment rate fell in March 2022 to 7.6 per cent from 8.1 per cent in February. The good news on the labour markets front in March 2022 stops here. All the other data point to worsening labour market conditions in March 2022.

https://www.cmie.com/kommon/bin/sr.php?kall=warticle&dt=2022041...

The labour participation rate (LPR) fell to 39.5 per cent in March 2022. This was lower than the 39.9 per cent participation rate recorded in February. It is also lower than during the second wave of Covid-19 in April-June 2021. The lowest the labour participation rate had fallen to in the second wave was in June 2021 when it fell to 39.6 per cent. The average LPR during April-June 2021 was 40 per cent. March 2022, with no Covid-19 wave and with much lesser restrictions on mobility, has reported a worse LPR of 39.5 per cent.

The labour force shrunk by 3.8 million during March 2022 to 428 million. This is the lowest labour force in eight months, i.e. since July 2021. Employment shrunk by 1.4 million to 396 million in March 2022, which was the lowest level since June 2021. The count of the unemployed fell by 2.4 million in March 2022. This is what caused the fall in the unemployment rate. But, the fall in the absolute count of unemployed or the unemployment rate is not because more people got employed. We have already noted that employment actually fell in March, by a substantial 1.4 million.

What the labour market statistics of March 2022 show is India’s biggest sign of economic distress. Millions left the labour markets they stopped even looking for employment, possibly too disappointed with their failure to get a job and under the belief that there were no jobs available.

This is not the first time that India has seen a fall in the labour force in a month wherein both its constituents the employed and the unemployed have fallen simultaneously. Some of this phenomenon occurring during a month could be a reflection of short-term labour market variations, or even sampling variations. What stands out this time is that the labour force and both its constituents shrunk during a larger period of the quarter of March 2022. This is for the first time in over three years, i.e. since the quarter of June 2018 that we have seen such a decline in the labour force.

The decline in the LPR reflects the inadequacy of the growth in employment opportunities. This is because LPR compares the labour force with the working age population. The working age population continues to grow and if job opportunities do not grow in tandem, then the LPR falls. But, a decline in the labour force in absolute terms reflects a shrinkage in employment opportunities in absolute terms.

The matter gets worse when we dwell into the source of fall in employment.The composition of the 1.4 million fall in employment in March 2022 reveals a much bigger problem on the employment front. Non-agricultural jobs fell by a whopping 16.7 million. This was offset by a 15.3 million increase in employment in agriculture. Such a large increase in employment in agriculture is likely a seasonal demand for workers preparing for the rabi harvest. But, March is a tad too early for the rabi harvest. It is possible that a significant portion of the increase in employment in agriculture in March was disguised unemployment.

The fall in non-agricultural jobs in March is large and therefore worrisome.

Industrial jobs fell by 7.6 million in March 2022. The manufacturing sector shed 4.1 million jobs, the construction sector shed 2.9 million and mines shed 1.1 million jobs. Utilities saw a small increase. Manufacturing industries that reported a fall in jobs were the large organised sectors cement and metals.

The fall in manufacturing jobs is surprising. After a disastrous 2020-21, manufacturing jobs had been recovering through most of 2021-22. Except in July 2021 when employment in manufacturing was lower than it was in the year ago month, and that was by a whisker, employment in all other months till February 2022 was higher than in the corresponding year ago month. March was expected to maintain the momentum. The fall in March 2022 is therefore surprising. The March 2022 employment was a 12.5 per cent fall over February (which had lesser days) and it was a 4.3 per cent fall over March 2021, which was on the eve of the second wave of Covid-19. The fall in March is also surprising because traditionally March was seasonally a far busier month than other months of the year.

The construction sector has recovered from the lockdown shocks. But, it has stagnated at employing about 64 million. It is unable to get back to its 68-72 million levels of employment in 2018. In March 2022, employment in the construction industry was down to less than 62 million. Employment in retail trade is comparable to construction. The trade employed a record 70 million in February 2022. This fell to 65.6 million in March.

The 1.4 million fall in employment in March translates into a fall in the employment rate as well. The employment rate, or the proportion of the working-age population that is employed, is the most important labour market indicator. The employment rate fell from 36.7 per cent in February 2022 to 36.5 per cent in March.

Data for March 2022 has revealed once again that the unemployment rate is an unreliable indicator of economic conditions.

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 15, 2022 at 6:53pm

RSS stresses on 'Bharat-centric' job models to tackle unemployment
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has called for "Bharat-centric" models of employment generation to strengthen the economy and achieve sustainable and holistic development

https://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/rss-stres...

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has called for "Bharat-centric" models of employment generation to strengthen the economy and achieve sustainable and holistic development.

In the wake of several youth in the country facing unemployment, the Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha (ABPS), the top decision-making body of the RSS, passed a resolution on Sunday to promote work opportunities to make the country self-reliant.


In the resolution, the ABPS said it wishes to emphasise that the entire society has to play a proactive role in harnessing work opportunities to mitigate the overall employment challenge.

"As we have experienced the impact of the recent COVID-19 pandemic on employment and livelihood, we have also witnessed opening up of new opportunities of which some sections of the society have taken benefit," it said.

The ABPS is of the opinion that thrust is to be given to "Bharatiya economic model" that is human-centric, labour intensive, eco-friendly and lays stress on decentralisation and equitable distribution of benefits and augments village economy, micro scale, small scale and agro-based industries, the resolution said.

"The ABPS calls upon citizens to work on Bharat-centric models of employment generation to strengthen the economy and achieve sustainable and holistic development," it said.

The three-day meeting of the ABPS concluded at Pirana on the outskirts of Ahmedabad on Sunday.

According to the resolution, the areas like rural employability, unorganised sector employment, jobs to women and their overall participation in the economy need to be boosted. Efforts are essential to adapt new technologies and soft skills appropriate to the societal conditions, it said.

"Our manufacturing sector, that has high employment potential, requires to be bolstered, which can also lessen our dependence on imports," it said.

The resolution also said that an environment conducive of encouraging entrepreneurship should be created by educating and counselling people, especially youth, so that they can come out of the mentality of seeking jobs only.

Similar entrepreneurial spirit also needs to be fostered among women, village folk and people from remote and tribal areas, it said.

"The ABPS feels that we, as a society, look for innovative ways to address the challenges of fast changing global economic and technological scenario. Opportunities of employment and entrepreneurship with emerging digital economy and export possibilities should be keenly explored," the RSS resolution said.

"We should engage ourselves in manpower training both pre and on job, research and technology innovations, motivation for start ups and green technology ventures," it said.

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 17, 2022 at 4:37pm

Medium Small and Micro Enterprises (SMEs) have always been the backbone of an economy in general and secondary sector in particular. For a capital scarce developing country like India, SMEs are considered as panacea for several economic woes like unemployment, poverty, income inequalities and regional imbalances.

https://www.mbarendezvous.com/more/msme-indian-economy/

The MSME Development act classifies manufacturing units into medium, small and micro enterprises depending upon the investment made in plant and machinery. Any enterprise with investment in plant and machinery of up to INR 50 million is considered as medium enterprise while those having investment between INR1.0 million to INR2.5 million is a small enterprise and one with less than INR1.0 million is a micro enterprise. In service sector, any enterprise with the investment limit of INR1.0 million, between INR 1.0-20 million and of upto INR 50 million is called as micro, small and medium enterprise respectively.

The MSMEs have played a great role in ensuring the socialistic goals like equality of income and balance regional development as envisaged by the planners soon after the independence. With the meagre investment in comparison to the various large scale private and public enterprises, the MSMEs are found to be more efficient providing more employment opportunities at relatively lower cost. The employment intensity of MSMEs is estimated to be four times greater than that of large enterprises. Currently, around 36 million SMEs are generating 80 million employment opportunities, contributing 8% of the GDP, 45% of total manufacturing output and 40% of the total exports from the country. MSMEs account for more than 80% of the total industrial enterprises in India creating more than 8000 value added products.

The most important contribution of SMEs in India is promoting the balanced economic development. The trickle down effects of large enterprises is very limited in contrast to small industries where fruits of percolation of economic growth are more visible. While the large enterprises largely created the islands of prosperity in the ocean of poverty, small enterprises have succeeded in fulfilling the socialistic goals of providing equitable growth. It had also helped in industrialization of rural and backward areas, thereby, reducing regional imbalances, assuring more equitable distribution of national income.Urban area with around 857,000 enterprises accounted for 54.77% of the total working enterprises in Registered MSME sector whereas in rural areas around 707,000 enterprises (45.23% of the working enterprises) are located. Small industries also help the large in industries by supplying them ancillary products.

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 17, 2022 at 5:04pm

#India Is Stalling the #WHO's Efforts to Make Global #Covid #Death Toll Public. Over a third of the additional 9 million deaths are estimated to have occurred in India, where the government of PM #Modi has stood by its own count of about 520,000. #BJP
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/16/health/global-covid-deaths-who-i...

An ambitious effort by the World Health Organization to calculate the global death toll from the coronavirus pandemic has found that vastly more people died than previously believed — a total of about 15 million by the end of 2021, more than double the official total of six million reported by countries individually.

But the release of the staggering estimate — the result of more than a year of research and analysis by experts around the world and the most comprehensive look at the lethality of the pandemic to date — has been delayed for months because of objections from India, which disputes the calculation of how many of its citizens died and has tried to keep it from becoming public.

More than a third of the additional nine million deaths are estimated to have occurred in India, where the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has stood by its own count of about 520,000. The W.H.O. will show the country’s toll is at least four million, according to people familiar with the numbers who were not authorized to disclose them, which would give India the highest tally in the world, they said. The Times was unable to learn the estimates for other countries.

The W.H.O. calculation combined national data on reported deaths with new information from localities and household surveys, and with statistical models that aim to account for deaths that were missed. Most of the difference in the new global estimate represents previously uncounted deaths, the bulk of which were directly from Covid; the new number also includes indirect deaths, like those of people unable to access care for other ailments because of the pandemic.

The delay in releasing the figures is significant because the global data is essential for understanding how the pandemic has played out and what steps could mitigate a similar crisis in the future. It has created turmoil in the normally staid world of health statistics — a feud cloaked in anodyne language is playing out at the United Nations Statistical Commission, the world body that gathers health data, spurred by India’s refusal to cooperate.

“It’s important for global accounting and the moral obligation to those who have died, but also important very practically. If there are subsequent waves, then really understanding the death total is key to knowing if vaccination campaigns are working,” said Dr. Prabhat Jha, director of the Centre for Global Health Research in Toronto and a member of the expert working group supporting the W.H.O.’s excess death calculation. “And it’s important for accountability.”

To try to take the true measure of the pandemic’s impact, the W.H.O. assembled a collection of specialists including demographers, public health experts, statisticians and data scientists. The Technical Advisory Group, as it is known, has been collaborating across countries to try to piece together the most complete accounting of the pandemic dead.

The Times spoke with more than 10 people familiar with the data. The W.H.O. had planned to make the numbers public in January but the release has continually been pushed back.

Recently, a few members of the group warned the W.H.O. that if the organization did not release the figures, the experts would do so themselves, three people familiar with the matter said.

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 18, 2022 at 6:55pm

Bulk of India’s unemployed population is in the middle-income households that earn between Rs 2 lakh and Rs 5 lakh a year despite the fact that they have the highest labour participation rate among non-rich household groups, the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy said.

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/jobs/middle-income-households-...

Citing its Consumer Pyramids Household Survey (CPHS) data, CMIE said the middle class households accounted for half of the total households and also half of the unemployed and the largest number of unemployed people while the average labour participation rate (LPR) of this group was 43% compared to the overall average LPR was 40.8%. Also, it experiences an elevated unemployment rate of over 9%.

“India’s biggest challenge on the employment front is to provide jobs that yield about Rs 2,00,000 a year to about 16 million unemployed in the middle class households,” CMIE said in its weekly labour market analysis.

CMIE has divided households into five income classes. At the bottom of the income pyramid are households that earn less than Rs 100,000 a year. The next group earns between Rs 100,000 and Rs.200,000 a year and is called the lower middle class. The third group of households earns between Rs 200,000 and Rs 500,000 a year and belong to the middle income class. The fourth earns between Rs 500,000 and Rs 1 million a year and could be classified as the upper middle class and the richest group of house earn more than Rs 1 million in a year.

Further, a little over a third of the unemployed reside in the lower middle income households that earn between Rs 1 lakh and Rs 2 lakh. These households accounted for about 45 per cent of all households and the share of this class in the total unemployed increased from 33% during September-December 2019 to 39.5% during May-August 2021 as a significant portion of this income group migrated to lower income groups during 2021-22.

According to CMIE, the poorest households accounted for 9.8% of all the households and only 3.2% of all the unemployed before the pandemic in 2019-20. However, in 2020-21 and the first half of 2021-22 they accounted for 16.6% of all households but still accounted for only 3.5% of all the unemployed.

The richer households, however, suffer the least pain of unemployment. They account for about 0.5% of all households and contain a similar proportion of all unemployed. Their average LPR at 46.3% is the highest among all income groups.

As per CMIE, their unemployment rate had shot up the most among all income groups but has since declined. It was over 15% during the first wave of the pandemic. But, in 2021, the rate averaged at 5.2%. The employment rate has been mostly over 40% but shot up to 45% during September-December 2021.

“However, even India’s best case employment rate at 45% is much worse than the world average of 54%,” it concluded.

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