Allegedly Society

The importance of being jobless

Economists have been making all kinds of nasty allegations about the Indian economy.

I won’t waste my time busting their gloom-and-doom theories. What matters is that you know, and I know, that our economy is in the best shape ever since the time of the Gupta dynasty. Every indicator says so. Take inflation. Last week, Kattabomman turned five, and we purchased a hundred balloons for a virtual birthday party. Of the hundred, we were able to inflate only two balloons — a stunningly low inflation rate of 2%. I haven’t seen such low inflation in my whole life — not even as a child (whose hobby was to track the CPI and WPI).

Or take productivity. India has never been more productive than in 2021. Cynics might scoff. But if you take OTPs, in 2020, India’s aggregate OTP production was approximately 172 billion metric tonnes. But in just the first six months of 2021, India has manufactured 572 billion metric tonnes of OTPs. Of these, 230 billion metric tonnes were exported, generating precious foreign exchange. I am not great at math but if I were to make a studied guess, I’d say this represents year-on-year productivity growth of about 892.76%, which is outstanding when you consider that we were hit badly by a pandemic, lockdown of economy, and lockjaw of media.

But the ultimate proof of the wellness of our economy is our unemployment rate. According to multiple sources, India’s unemployment has achieved double digit growth — clocking 10.3% — for the first time in three decades. Clearly, despite the universal human urge to get exploited, more Indians are actively choosing to remain unemployed. What explains this phenomenon?

A government report which is yet to be made public (and whose PDF is in my possession) has the answers. Here are the top reasons why unemployment is growing in popularity among Indians.

1. The rise of OTTs:

Indians have realised that life is short but web series are long, and often run into several seasons. Having a job would make it impossible to finish all the episodes of all the seasons of all the series in all the languages on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hotstar, etc. Understandably, people are quitting their jobs so that they can consume entertainment on a full-time basis.

2. Growing a beard is better than working:

Given a choice between jobless growth and a growthless job, Indians are choosing the former, and their preferred sector for jobless growth is beard development. While men are growing their own beards, women are motivating the men in their lives to grow beards, by either leaving them or giving them a hard time. The report, however, is silent on the source of inspiration behind the growing popularity of beard cultivation.

3. Losing faith in HR:

Most Indians believe it’s only a matter of time before HR offers them a plastic handshake. They know they will be replaced by interns from the neighbourhood crèche who would do their job for free as part of their school project under Skill India Mission. Therefore, like Gavaskar, many Indians are opting to quit when ahead rather than wait for a call from HR.


Following the upward revisions in salaries due to the pandemic and lockdown, most Indians, especially those in senior, middle, junior and sub-junior management, are too embarrassed to continue drawing such humongous compensation, that too in a country like India with a proud tradition of poverty. Also, unable to spend during the lockdown, their savings have ballooned to cosmic proportions. For these cash-rich desperadoes, MGNREGA — which pays less than minimum wage and makes you work only 100 days a year — is doubly attractive. But MGNREGA has a catch: you have to be unemployed in order to qualify. Is it any wonder so many Indians are opting for unemployment?

5. Confused by excess:

Have you heard about the donkey that died of starvation because it couldn’t decide which stack of hay to start eating first? That’s the predicament facing India’s working age population today. The government has generated so many jobs so fast that every individual has dozens of options to choose from. Unable to decide which offer letter to accept first, millions of Indians are ending up in a blissful state of unemployment.

6. They don’t want to be hard on themselves:

Indians are changing. They are now fully aware of the Foucauldian dictum of ‘Care for the Self’. They prioritise caring for their self through meditation, pranayama, and eating slowly. They know the value of not being too hard on themselves. They have begun to acknowledge the tremendous effort that goes into the seemingly simple act of waking up in the morning, not to mention breathing non-stop for 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and it’s all unpaid work. Naturally, they are reluctant to take on the added responsibilities of a job, which would make further demands on their consciousness.

7. Why work when Achche Din are here:

This is self-explanatory.

The author of this satire is Social Affairs Editor, The Hindu.

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Printable version | Sep 26, 2021 10:38:21 PM |

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