Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently said that “lies were being spread” about the lack of employment in India. “In one year, EPF (Employment Provident Fund) accounts of 70 lakh youth between the ages of 18 and 25 have been opened,” Modi said in a television interview aired on 22 January 2018. “Seven million new EPF accounts, doesn’t this show new employment?”
Modi was quoting from a report, Towards a Payroll Reporting in India, published on 15 January 2018, by Pulak Ghosh, a professor at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, and Soumya Kanti Ghosh, group chief economic adviser at the State Bank of India.
But the data used has been contested. Critics have said that while the study is a good starting point, the new Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) data – apparently made available only to Pulak and Soumya – do not account for job losses after the implementation of the goods and services tax (GST) and demonetisation in 2017; and the data does not record how many of these jobs are formalised versions of what were previously informal-sector jobs