Jobs increased, inflation tamed in India, says Labour Secretary

Union Labour Secretary and Vice Chairperson of the 17th APRM, Arti Ahuja.

Union Labour Secretary and Vice Chairperson of the 17th APRM, Arti Ahuja.

India played a major role in the four-day Asia Pacific Regional Meeting of the International Labour Organisation (APRM of ILO), which concluded here on Friday, by intervening in various discussions on the report by ILO Director-General Gilbert F. Houngbo. Union Labour Secretary and Vice Chairperson of the 17 th APRM, Arti Ahuja, played a key role in facilitating these discussions. Speaking to The Hindu at the sidelines of the meeting, she said the APRM helped each country in learning positive experiences on building economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic. According to her, India was now in a much better position with the number of jobs on the rise. Excerpts:

What are the takeaways for India from this APRM?

There are a couple of takeaways. This region is uniquely placed. It has the largest population and is historically and culturally connected. The concerns of most countries, even if they are differently developed economically, are more or less common. Issues like grappling with climate change, dissatisfied unions etc. are common for the countries in this region.

What was the lesson India could learn from APRM on post pandemic recovery?

India is better placed than the other countries in the region. Our jobs are growing. If we consider the Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) payroll data, 1.7 million workers were added in September alone. Jobs are increasing in India and growth is also on the uptick. But that is not the case with other countries. They have serious concerns. They are helping their businesses and workers through various means. Some countries have been harder hit.

What is your view on the credential committee criticising the Centre over sending BMS to APRM without any consultation and not allowing participation to the Central Trade Unions?

We had replied to the credentials committee. We told them that we brought the union that has the largest membership and hence it is the union that represents most of the workers. So not allowing them to come is not fair to a large number of workers which they represent.

Inflation was another major issue debated in this APRM. Is India confident enough to deal with the problem?

The inflationary trend is probably much higher in other countries. In India, we are still below double-digit inflation. We don’t have that kind of runaway inflation as is happening in other countries. The Consumer Price Index for workers doesn’t show that there is any major problem as far as inflation is concerned.

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