Challenge of ‘growth with jobs’ biggest poll issue: Amitabh Kant

MUMBAI: Ensuring growth with jobs is the biggest challenge for the country as it heads into the general elections, NITI Aayog chief executive Amitabh Kant said Wednesday.

The travel, tourism and hospitality sector has the best answer to this challenge as it creates quality jobs, Kant said, announcing that the government plans to introduce 100 new tourism-centric trains after the elections.

“This sector provides the answer to Indias biggest challenge, the challenge of growth with equity and the challenge to grow with jobs,” he said, speaking at the Hotel Investment Conference South Asia event here.

“All of you provide the answer to Indias biggest challenge which it is confronted with in this election, that is the challenge of growth with jobs,” Kant said.

“Travel and tourism is what the politician of India needs, he wants jobs, he wants jobs and he wants jobs…We are in the midst of an election when everybody wants jobs and no sector can create well qualified jobs than the travel and tourism sector,” he said.

The remarks come amid concerns over jobless growth in the country, which were also voiced by the then labour minister Bandaru Dattatreya in 2017. Citing a study by the Association for Democratic Reforms, former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan last week said jobs is the biggest issue in the elections.

A study by the Centre for Monitoring the Indian Economy (CMIE) had said that as many as 1.1 crore jobs were lost in 2018. The government has been citing the growth in EPFO registrations to stress on how jobs have increased.

Kant said understanding the travel, tourism and hospitality sector’s potential to create jobs, the government has undertaken a slew of measures and will be doing more after the elections.

At Dwarka in Delhi, India is creating the biggest convention centre in Asia, which will have 13 to 14 hotels, he said, adding exhibition venue Pragati Maidan in Delhi is also being redone.

“Post election we will push for opening up of around 100 railway tourism trains in India,” Kant said.

The travel and tourism sector is one of the major creators of jobs in India, accounting for 40 million jobs or 9.8 percent jobs in India, he said.

He rued that even though India creates jobs, there is a challenge with wages and with quality of jobs. He pointed out that tourism and hospitality sector is the only sector in India which creates high quality jobs.

“We opened e-visa regime, we are opening up the islands of India in an innovative and sustainable manner. You will see a lot of bids coming out for Andaman and Lakshwadeep,” he said.

Kant said the country has to grow at 9-10 per cent in future and has lot of challenges like gender disparity as only 28 per cent women work in India compared to global average of 48 per cent. The manufacturing sector and agriculture sector need radical changes and growth with equity, he said.

The government has transferred amounts directly into peoples accounts for 500 schemes using biometrics and saved Rs Rs 95,000 crore, he said. India is one of the most efficient economies in the world, he added.

Kant said the target for India is to be in top 25 in next two years in ease of doing business from the present 77, adding that India can truly grow only when private sector enterprises flourish.