Raisina Files 2021 aims to engage with the leitmotifs of this past pandemic year, mirroring the theme of the Raisina Dialogue 2021, “#ViralWorld: Outbreaks, Outliers and Out of Control”. Within this overarching theme, we have identified five pillars and areas of discussion to critically engage with—WHOse Multilateralism? Reconstructing the UN and Beyond; Securing and Diversifying Supply Chains; Global ‘Public Bads’: Holding Actors and Nations to Account; Infodemic: Navigating a ‘No-Truth’ World in the Age of Big Brother; and, finally, the Green Stimulus: Investing in Gender, Growth and Development. Together, these five pillars of the Raisina Dialogue capture the multitude of conversations and anxieties countries are engaging and grappling with.
Raisina Files is an annual ORF publication that brings together emerging and established voices in a collection of essays on key, contemporary questions that are implicating the world and India.
In this volume
Editors: Samir Saran, Preeti Lourdes John
Emerging Narratives and the Future of Multilateralism | Amrita Narlikar
Diplomacy in a Divided World | Melissa Conley Tyler
Is A Cold War 2.0 Inevitable? | Velina Tchakarova
Trust But Verify: A Narrative Analysis Of “Trusted” Tech Supply Chains | Trisha Ray
Can The World Collaborate Amid Vaccine Nationalism | Shamika Ravi
A Nuclear Insecurity: How Can We Tame The Proliferators | Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan
De Facto Shared Sovereignty And The Rise Of Non-State Statecraft: Imperatives For Nation-States | Lydia Kostopoulus
Digital Biases: The Chimera Of Equality And Access | Nanjira Sambuli
The Infodemic: Regulating The New Public Square | Kara Frederick
How Finance Can Deliver Real Environmental And Climate Impact | Geraldine Ang
Unlocking Capital For Climate Response In The Emerging World | Kanika Chawla
Putting Women Front And Centre Of India’s Green Recovery Process | Shloka Nath, Isha Chawla, Shailja Mehta
Investing In Material Innovation Is Investing In India’s Future | Nisha Holla
India’s strong growth in recent years has outstripped job creation and poverty remains a key challenge. But in the face of the changing world of work Terri Chapman and Samir Saran, Social Policy Specialist and Associate Fellow and Vice President at India’s Observer Research Foundation, explain how perceived problems in the economy can become opportunities.
India’s sustained average growth rate of 7% over the last decade has not been accompanied by sufficient growth in employment. While half of India’s population is below the age of 26, the increasing demand for jobs is not being met by the creation of sufficient new economic opportunities. The annual demand for new jobs in India is estimated at 12-15 million, leaving India with a shortage of between 4-7 million jobs each year. This is further compounded by the 300 million people of working-age outside of the labour force. India’s official unemployment rate of 3.5% masks the magnitude of the jobs crunch.
The extent and severity of poverty in India provides further impetus for addressing the jobs challenge. One in five people live on less than USD 1.90 per day, and more than half of the population lives on less than USD 3 a day (2011 PPP). High rates of employment in low-skilled, low-wage and low-productivity occupations only exacerbate this condition. India has a working poverty rate of 20%. Increasing both individual and household incomes will need to be at the centre of policies designed to address the employment challenge.
Two characteristics of the Indian economy that have historically constrained growth may actually provide new opportunities in the context of a changing economy. The first is a disproportionate share of microenterprises, with 98% of companies employing fewer than 10 workers; the second is the high rate of informality, with 90% of employment generated in the informal sector. In an increasingly digital- and service-based economy these characteristics could, in fact, create efficiencies. Three strategies should be undertaken to leverage these opportunities: upgrading skills and capabilities; supporting microenterprise and self-employment; and creating new models for social protection.
The service sector is providing immense opportunities for job creation in both traditional and emerging sub-sectors. Currently, this sector accounts for 60% of GDP and 30% of employment. Continued growth in domestic and export services is expected it and will be increasingly important in the face of uncertainty in the manufacturing sector, where employment has stagnated at 22%. Changes in manufacturing processes, especially the potential for increased automation, will limit the benefits of labour-intensive growth. Structural shifts in the economy due to digitalisation are altering the kinds of jobs being created and the skills required for individuals to remain competitive. In order to help workers adapt to changing demand, India must develop an enhanced skills development framework. Such a framework should be accessible, driven by demand, linked to employment opportunities and enable individuals to quickly up-skill and re-skill.
The adoption of digital technologies and emergence of digital platforms, such as in e-commerce and digital financial systems, are improving the business viability of microenterprises in India. Additionally, India’s microfirms create direct employment and should be an essential part of its employment strategy. In order to support inclusive growth among micro and small-sized firms, India must improve financial connectivity and reorient its skills development strategy. Further, in order to take full advantage of the employment potential of the digital economy, it is essential to improve and secure digital infrastructure to enable equal access to digital technologies and reduce the digital divide.
As the digital economy begins to generate new opportunities in India, it will be characterised by increased contract work and self-employment. This should be met with new models of social protection and strategies that mitigate risks of shifting labour relations. Social safety nets and social benefits that are typically linked to employment should be accessible to individuals directly. Potential issues such as depressed wages, low productivity, and economic insecurity need to be managed through new policy frameworks.
A changing global economic environment, structural changes to the Indian economy and digital transformations have the potential to greatly exacerbate the employment challenge. At the same time, a major opportunity for India stems from its existing economic structure that is dominated by the informal sector. New digital technologies will allow India to catalyse growth. Given global trends towards informalisation and self-employment, India is at a strategic advantage to avoid substantial structural adjustments.
India has the opportunity to drive growth from the informal sector, while simultaneously creating stronger linkages between the state and individuals through new, digitally-enabled social protection mechanisms. This opportunity will be accompanied by a major challenge: to effectively skill, up-skill and re-skill India’s workforce. The immensity of this undertaking is compounded by the lack of a quality formal education among large parts of the population. It is imperative that India leverages digital technologies to bring workers into the labour force, connects individuals to social protection systems and finds ways to effectively prepare people for a changing employment landscape.
Social Policy Specialist and Associate Fellow, Vice President , Observer Research Foundation
Raisina Files 2018 unpacks disruption and its interaction with global politics. Disruptive forces have been grouped along the lines of actors, processes, and theatres: three major nation-states whose external engagements are seeing shifts; three processes that are re-organising political, economic, and social spaces; and two old and new arenas where geopolitics are having local, regional, and global repercussions.
Raisina Files, an annual ORF publication, is a collection of essays published and disseminated at the time of the Raisina Dialogue. It strives to engage and provoke readers on key contemporary questions and situations that will implicate the world and India in the coming years. Arguments and analyses presented in this collection will be useful in taking discussions forward and enunciating policy suggestions for an evolving Asian and world order.
Debating Disruption: Change and Continuity | Ritika Passi and Harsh V. Pant, ORF
Is the US a disruptor of world order? | Robert J. Lieber, Georgetown University
Russia as a disruptor of the Post-Cold War order: To what effect? | Dmitri Trenin, Carnegie Moscow
China as a disruptor of the international order: A Chinese View | Yun Sun, Stimson Center
Globalisation, demography, technology, and new political anxieties | Samir Saran and Akhil Deo, ORF
Minority Report, Illiberalism, intolerance, and the threat to international society | Manu Bhagavan, Hunter College