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Union minister for information technology, law and justice, Ravi Shankar Prasad says those who lost jobs after demonetisation were not skilled enough

Weeks after Union railway minister Piyush Goyal drew flak for suggesting that job cuts in India and the resulting unemployment was a “very good sign”, Union information technology minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, on Tuesday, went a step further to mock people who lost their jobs after Prime Minister Narendra Modi unleashed his demonetisation initiative on November 8, 2016.

Addressing the media in Bhopal on Tuesday, Prasad – who helms two hefty portfolios (information technology and law) in Narendra Modi’s cabinet – said: “Only those who were not able to enhance their skills with time lost their naukri”.

Prasad’s heartless and obviously factually incorrect comments come at a time when Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi is spearheading his party charge against the Modi government on its apparent failure in checking rampant unemployment in India and for not being able to deliver on the BJP’s poll promise of boosting job creation.

The law minister’s comments bear a striking resemblance to equally callous remarks made by Union railway minister Piyush Goyal at the World Economic Forum’s India Economic Summit in October. At the summit various representatives of India Inc had expressed concerns over the growing rate of unemployment in India and the country’s failure to effectively use its robust human resource.

According to a report on the summit that was published by The Wire: “Bharti Airtel chairman Sunil Mittal talked about how India’s top 200 companies had made significant reductions in their workforce in the last few years… ‘If these top 200 companies are not going to generate jobs, it’s going to get harder and harder for the whole business community to pull society along with it,’ Mittal said”

Goyal, who was one of the panelists at the event, interjected Mittal and said: “Can I just add a little bit just to change the perspective from what Sunil had mentioned?… What Sunil just spoke about companies bringing down their employment is a very good sign, in fact. The fact [is] that today, the youth of tomorrow is not looking to be a job seeker alone. He wants to be a job creator.”

Prasad went on to hail the Modi government’s economic policies and, brushing aside comments about unemployment in India, sought to claim that there was nothing wrong with levels of employment generation in the country.

While hailing demonetisation as a “historic step” to curb corruption and formalize the economy, Prasad said that the digitization of the economy that followed note ban “created new job avenues”. The Union minister said: “Under the Mudra scheme, we gave loans worth Rs 4 lakh crore to 8 crore people. There were small traders, hand-cart pullers and people from ST, SC and minorities. If each of them employed at least one person, 4 crore jobs were created automatically.”

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