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The Real Reason Why You Will Not Get The Salary Hike You Want

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‘Jobs’ is arguably the most debated four letter word. While the Indian economy has grown at a steady pace of over seven percent a year, the same cannot be said about employment generation in the country.

That we need to create more jobs is something all political parties largely agree on, even though they bicker about the data surrounding it. Where we also all agree is the fact that in the next 6 years, millions of people (over 20 crores to be exact!) will be in ‘bad jobs’ or even without them, if this crisis is not addressed. A larger job crisis is arriving, and we aren’t ready for it.

This imminent crisis, however, masks a connected crisis that affects anyone who depends on a salary, but that conversation often gets lost in the dry statistics and heated political rhetoric around jobs: the wage crisis.

Or in other words, the fact that most of us, and actually millions more make peanuts – not enough to make ends meet.

Paychecks Hardly Grow In India: Some Numbers

Yes, you heard that right. Most of us are actually not paid in proportion to the work that we put in. What’s more, this is not a new problem, or one that has been created by a single government.

In our country, low monthly incomes are a norm – pervasive across all states, and as a consequence, wage inequality remains high. Wage growth actually significantly trails economic growth in the country, if you carefully look through economic data of the country over the course of the last two decades.

While India’s GDP grew by four times between 1993-94 to 2011-12, real wages only doubled, according to ILO’s Living Wage Report. The sluggish growth has also translated to a rise in inequality and widened the economic divide between rural and urban India. To put that in perspective, in 2011–12, the average wage in India was about ₹247 per day, and the average wage of casual workers was an estimated ₹143 per day.

What makes matters worse is that it is the young and the educated who are at the receiving end of this. According to the State of Working India Report 2019, nearly 50 lakh people have lost their jobs between 2016 to 2018, post demonetization.

“India’s unemployed are mostly the higher educated and the young. Among urban women, graduates are 10 percent of the working age population but 34 per cent of the unemployed. The age group 20-24 years is hugely over-represented among the unemployed. Among urban men, for example, this age group accounts for 13.5 per cent of the working age population but 60 percent of the unemployed,” the report says.

If you believe that only a few people at the top are getting huge paychecks, think again. Because data suggests that we aren’t creating too many high paying jobs either. And even though labour productivity has risen in India, growth in remuneration has remained slow.

On average, 82% of male and 92% of female workers currently earn less than ₹10,000 a month, highlighting India’s drastic income inequality.

It’s Not Just HR Who Is To Blame

So, what is the reason behind India’s job and wage challenge? It is actually an intricate equation that requires balancing talent, skilling, bargaining power and geographic diversity, says Goutam Das, in Jobonomics, a book that tries to make sense of India’s impending job crisis.

“Skilling, sometimes, multi-skilling at all levels is the most effective way to fight the wage crisis and the coming job crisis -the crucial prefix before talent can be matched with demand. If the skilling anomaly isn’t corrected, job seekers will end up in the bad job trap. Skills spawn productivity, and productivity brings with it higher pay,” he writes.

In India, however, there is a caveat to this. The theory of higher productivity leading to better salaries can get twisted here because at any given time, there are always more workers who are qualified for any given job. When there are fewer jobs and more people, salaries automatically become the casualty.

Add that to the fact that the bargaining power of workers in India generally tends to be low, and that collective bargaining power of labour market institutions has been on a decline and it gets worse.

Wage changes are also a result of changes in the way of production. Over the course of the last few years, production has become more capital intensive or less dependent on labour in nearly every manufacturing industry in the organised and unorganised sectors. This is true, if to a lesser extent, for agriculture and services as well.

While technical know-how and increased use of machinery is a change that needs to be welcomed since it translates to increased productivity, in labour surplus economies like India, the enhanced productivity does not automatically translate to higher wages for employees.

Going into the future too, economists think that this trend will continue in India, as company owners will likely pocket any gains or benefits arising because of increased employee productivity, instead of passing them onto employees.

Any guesses what’s going to be the first casualty of this unstated policy? Your Increment.

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  1. Manish Kumar

    Regarding unemployment estimates, I have written an article recently,
    Another article, one on demonetization could be read here

    While I have demonstrated why the estimates on unemployment need to be taken with a pinch of salt, and how demonetization has not exactly been as big a disaster as it is touted to be for the economy, I agree with you on a broader level, that job availability and increments will suffer in the coming future due to automation. Perhaps what will be the key then is regulated automation and keeping inflation in check (which will happen naturally to some extent as lower increments mean lesser discretionary income growth).

    1. Shikha Sharma

      Yes, automation is pegged to be a huge gamechanger, isn’t it? Our labour policies also, on paper, aren’t very labour friendly, in implementation, so that’s there as well. Loved your story on both unemployment and demonetization though. Keep writing such fab pieces!

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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