Lost Your Job? Piyush Goyal Thinks That’s a ‘Very Good Sign’

According to the railways minister, the reduction in jobs just shows that more and more young people want to be entrepreneurs.

Railway minister Piyush Goyal. Credit: PTI

Railway minister Piyush Goyal. Credit: PTI

New Delhi: While most people in the country are concerned about layoffs, job losses and the lack of employment generation, and the impact this is having on India’s young people, railways minister Piyush Goyal seems to think the decrease in employment opportunities is a “very good sign”. His logic suggests that young people are using the proverbial lemons life is throwing at them to make not lemonade, but gajar ka halwa.

At the World Economic Forum’s India Economic Summit on Thursday, industry executives expressed concern about the country’s employment situation. Bharti Airtel chairman Sunil Mittal talked about how India’s top 200 companies had made “significant” reductions in their workforce in the last few years. “If these top 200 companies are not going to generate jobs, it’s going to get harder and harder for the whole business community to pull society along with it,” Mittal said. “And then, you will leave millions and millions behind.”

But Goyal wasn’t having any of that. Interjecting, he said, “Can I just add a little bit just to change the perspective from what Sunil had mentioned?… What Sunil just spoke about companies bringing down their employment is a very good sign, in fact. The fact [is] that today, the youth of tomorrow is not looking to be a job seeker alone. He wants to be a job creator. The country today is seeing more and more young people wanting to be entrepreneurs.”

Where do Goyal’s beliefs come from? Is there evidence that shows young people, after losing their jobs, are immediately filled with a new-found energy (not to mention the capital needed) to start something of their own? And even if they do, are they likely to be able to stay in the game for the long haul?

The Indian Express recently put together data from different sectors on the number of jobs that had been lost – and the picture that emerged of entrepreneurship was not at all pretty. In addition to everything else, a total of 212 startups shut down in 2016, 50% higher than the previous year. And this trend has continued into 2017 – Stayzilla and Taskbob are two of the biggest names to have called it a day.

Not surprisingly,  these numbers aren’t really generating a lot of hope in the young entrepreneurs of India that Goyal is so excited about. According to a Livemint report, the first nine months of 2017 saw just 800 startups come into being, while all of 2016 had seen 6,000. If the thousands of people losing their jobs are really that enthusiastic and financially able to get their own initiatives up and running, that number should be going up, not down. Startup investments have also been low in both years, the report says. “While the amount of start-up funding so far this year has already exceeded last year’s levels, the volume of deals is lower, according to data from Tracxn. Start-ups have raised roughly $8 billion in the first nine months of the year, compared with $4.6 billion in all of 2016, Tracxn data shows. The volume of deals, however, has dropped to 700 compared with more than 1,000 in 2016, according to Tracxn”.

Also read: Reality Check – Is Modi Turning Into a Caricature of Himself?

In an interview to The Wire last week, BJP leader and former finance minister Yashwant Sinha described as “untenable” the claims made by BJP president Amit Shah and other party leaders about the government’s Mudra scheme creating millions of jobs through entrepreneurship and self-employment:

Do you know what the average loan amount is of all those millions of people [under the Mudra scheme]? Eleven thousand rupees! And you tell me, in today’s day and age, what kind of business can be set up with 25 thousand rupees, 50 thousand rupees?… The party president said that all these 80 million people today are self employed which means we have created 80 million job opportunities. This is absolutely untenable.

Earlier this year, mental health startup YourDost said that job insecurity is one of the major causes behind depression and anxiety among young workers across sectors. The group hosted a three-day counselling campaign for those who had been recently laid off or feared that it may be in the making. “In a span of three days – between June 29 and July 1 – it received over 1,000 enquiries, including 260 calls and around 800 chats, a majority of them reporting depression and anxiety,” Tech in Asia reported. While a large number of those calling were from the IT sector, there were others as well. “65% inquiries were from professionals who had been laid off or were insecure about their job stability, given the uncertainty in the industry. 43% professionals were from the IT sector; a few from healthcare, pharma, manufacturing, and e-commerce industry,” the YourDost study says.

But for the railways minister, apparently, the impact that layoffs and the lack of alternatives can have – both of which are pretty well documented – is invisible. Because, like the ever-optimistic Marie Antoinette and her unfaltering belief in the value (and availability) of cake, it seems Goyal doesn’t want to see that there just might be a very real problem out there.

  • Ashok Akbar Gonsalves

    “Goyal doesn’t want to see that there just might be a very real problem out there.”

    Not just Goyal, from whom rubbish like this is to be expected as he is part of the government that’s responsible for the mess – there are innumerable Modi bhakts who have their heads planted firmly in sand, or who still sing that good things will come in the long term (desperate job seekers just need to feed themselves and their families on patriotism till then).
    I wonder what happened to “mitron, mujhe sirf 50 din dijiye”!

  • Anjan Basu

    Piyush Goyal’s obtuseness has now assumed legendary proportions.

  • Sudhansu Mohanty

    Goyal perhaps thinks that losing jobs for the common man is like him losing his ministership to become a Governor of a State or an Ambassador of India to some country! “Bhaktism” knows no moral bounds, “Bhakts” have struck rock bottom and still digging!

    • Anjan Basu

      ‘Struck rock bottom and still digging!’ — Memorable turn of phrase!

  • ashok759

    Care should be taken lest a stage is reached where the electorate wants some people to lose their jobs and become entrepreneurs.

  • S.N.Iyer

    Piyush Goyal is one of the more proficient Ministers with his professional experience and his statement smacks of either ignorance or logic. When some one loses his/her job and finds no prospect of re-employment, it is natural that to survive he has to do something to earn his livelihood. But this is not a solution as the altrenat5e source may not have the same prospects as in his former employment.If Mr Goyal’s suggestion that persons losing their jobs are happy in what they have to do to survive as something the Govt has to take credit for, it is a silly suggestion. It is not everyone who being a Chartered Accountant and and an investor who becomes a politician and gets to work as MInister, where his former earning capacities are not impaired and plus he gets a salasry, perks etc etc and has to praise his Master to survive in his present job!!

  • s s

    People of India are waiting for 2019 to make piyush goel unemployed. However by virtue of being MP for 2 years he has his ligelong pension so there is no need for him to become entrepeneur

  • Marvin Gaye

    the sad part he is supposed to be one of the more sensible characters in this government. Now we know how deep the rot has set in

  • S.N.Iyer

    After taking charge of the Rail Ministry, Mr Goyal has become the faithful spokesperson for the Govt. To justify lack of increased employment as promised by his party, his reason smacks of ignorance or lack of data. Start ups in most cases have failed. If the top Cos are retrenching staff, and SMES are struggling after GST where is the scope for jobs. Let us wait to see what his own ministry’s
    Employment policy.
    As a CA and private investor let him give figures of how industries ate growing and what is the prospect of employment. If the instance of high business in commodities which he is giving as a high growth business, can he give figures of increased emplyment by such a business with a turnover of Rs 80k turnover!
    This Govt using such professionals as Goyal is indicative that the Govt is hoping that such statements seem more credible.

    • viking

      Piyush goyal is now de facto spokesperson for Amit Shah family too.

  • Sagir Hossain

    all are frauds making votebank to make their party grow but never thinks about JOBLESS students of INDIA

  • Rashmi

    Mr. Piyush Goyal deserves Nobel prize on this statement about unemployment and joblessness.

    Olivier Blanchard said when unemployment is high , workers/ people are worse off. And
    This guy has proved the well established theory wrong .