NEW DELHI: Even as NITI Aayog claims to have found that statistics on lack of employment are overstated, there was consensus during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's interaction with country's leading economists that employment generation was the key going forward.
At an event organised by the NITI Aayog ahead of the Union Budget, over 40 economists shared their views on various themes such as the macro-economy, agriculture and rural development, employment, health and education, manufacturing and exports, urban development, infrastructure and connectivity.
NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar told the media after the meeting that employment was one of the key subjects discussed during the meeting.
"NITI Aayog had set up a task force to examine what we call high frequency employment data. The task force has come out with numbers which will be shared later with the public.
"But these number are startling and quite in contrast with Labour Bureau numbers... You will see there is much better news on employment front than what people thought," he said.
Yet there was unanimity among the experts that employment is the key going forward, he added.
Rajiv Kumar said it was also pointed out that educated unemployment among young people in the country may be as high as 20 per cent.
"As you skill more people, you raise aspirations and create situation where aspirations are rising and jobs are not available," he said.
He said another big idea discussed during the meeting was if India can adopt stronger export-driven growth strategy "given the global economy is now in the phase of synchronized expansion".
"So there is a big opportunity here for India. And we need better government capability to target the sectors which are needed to expand exports," he said.
Rajiv Kumar said what emerged clearly out of the meeting was that Prime Minister's call for doubling farmer incomes "is not just a pie in the sky".
"Several speakers said we must shift our focus from increasing agricultural production to increasing incomes. Because increased production doesn't necessarily lead to increased incomes for the farmers.
"So we need to shift our focus to productivity, lowering costs, increasing efficiency, and giving farmers access to markets," he said.
Several presentations were made to the Prime Minister during the meeting after which, he thanked the participants for their suggestions and observations and assured them that the government will consider these.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley also thanked everyone for their "thought-provoking suggestions", a government statement said.