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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.

You must be to comment.
  1. Manish Kumar

    Regarding unemployment estimates, I have written an article recently, https://www.youthkiawaaz.com/2019/04/how-jobless-are-we/
    Another article, one on demonetization could be read here https://www.youthkiawaaz.com/2019/04/exorcising-the-de-mon/

    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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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