The 54-page ‘Black Paper’ of the Congress party published in response to the 59-page ‘White Paper’ put out by the ruling BJP government accused the Central government of not addressing the issue of unemployment and price rise in the last 10 years. It criticised the economic policies pursued by the BJP as ones that harm the interests of small and medium-scale enterprises.

According to the Congress, the total unemployment figure of 1 crore for all ages in 2012 rose to 4 crore in 2022. The party said that under the UPA rule, the coalition led by Congress, 75 lakh non-farm jobs were created every year between 2004-05 and 2011-12. “Between 2013 and 2019, the number of non-farm jobs created was 29 lakh per year, less than half of the UPA’s rate. After 2019, the number has been even lower”, the Black Paper said.

Congress also blamed the Modi government for reversing the structural transformation of the economy by forcing youth back into farming from non-farm jobs. “For 15 years, young workers moved out of agriculture into manufacturing and services. The number of agricultural workers declined by 6.7 crore between 2004-05 and 2017-18. This entire process has almost been reversed in three years. Since 2018-19, the number of agricultural workers has gone up by 6 crore”, the document said.

On the share of regular salaried workers in total employment, Congress said that the pre-Covid level of 23.8 % in 2019 fell to 20.9% in 2023. Unpaid family workers, whose numbers had fallen from 11.1 crore in 2004 to 8.5 crore in 2012, and further to 6.2 crore by 2017, have risen to 10.4 crore by 2023, the document said.

The opposition party has attributed the high price of LPG, petrol and diesel in spite of a 21% fall in crude oil prices between May 2014 and February 2024 to be one of the reasons for the high levels of prices across commodities in India. The paper accused the government of stopping the quarterly surveys conducted by the Labour Bureau in March 2018 following the elimination of the annual Employment-Unemployment Survey to mask politically uncomfortable facts.

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