The DAKSH-ADR Survey 2014 reached over 2 lakh respondents across the country from various backgrounds. We asked people to identify and rate the issues that are important to them when they vote in an election. Across geographical, gender, wealth, age, caste and religious divides, the top issue was the need for better employment opportunities. This got an average score of 8 out of 10 in our survey. The near unanimity on better employment opportunities being an important consideration marks a clear shift from the “bijli, sadak, paani” approach of the 1990’s. While “bijli, sadak, paani” still rank very high because of the poor governance in the country, the ascendancy of employment as an issue in elections (at least in the minds of the people) is an important factor.
Now it is up to the political parties to explain how they are going to create better employment opportunities. It is not good enough to say that they will create better opportunities, we need to hear concrete ideas from them. If Mr. Modi has really generated better employment in Gujarat, then we need to hear from him how he achieved it and how he can replicated the model in other parts of the country. And unlike better roads, a mere reduction in corruption in the labour department will not generate better employment opportunities.
The Congress’ manifesto released earlier this week promises creation of 100 million new jobs- great, but how? There is no answer to this. I am sure Mr. Modi and the BJP will promise more without any details of how they will achieve it. So, let’s hope we hear some new ideas, soon. Else, we are in for another round of lots of promises, no delivery and consequent disappointment.