If selling pakodas is a ‘job’, by that logic even begging is a job P Chidambaram

New Delhi: The latest sticking point between former Finance Minister P Chidambaram and PM Modi is whether selling pakodas can be considered a form of gainful employment? The seemingly innocuous debate was ignited when PM Modi, in a recent interview to a television channel, reportedly said, “If a person selling pakodas (snacks) earns Rs 200 at the end of the day, should it be considered employment or not?”

Chidambaram lost no time in mocking the PM and pointing out that, by that logic begging was employment, too. In a series of tweets during the day on the subject, he asked his social media followers to be “prepared for an assault on our common sense by wild claims of job creation by the government.”

“Real job creation will be reflected by robust increase in private investment, private consumption, exports and credit demand. Not happening yet,” he wrote. Later in the day, he said it was important to “keep the distinction between ‘job’ and ‘self-employment’.” “A ‘job’ is certain, regular and reasonably secure. We want to know how many such jobs have been created,” he demanded.

The BJP, not the kind to buckle under in a game of semantics, said the comparison, made between the “livelihood of millions of hardworking Indians from humble background(s)” to begging, betrayed the Congress’ “perpetual disdain for the poor.” “(The) Congress Party has still not accepted the historic mandate given by India in favour of a hard-working and honest ‘chaiwalla’ over the corrupt and dynasts,” the ruling party said in a message posted on Twitter.

Elaborating on this theme in the past, Chidambaram, a former finance minister, had said the claim of 70 lakh new jobs in 2017-18 had been punctured by two scholars and there were reports that the number of contributing members in Provident Fund had declined from 462 lakh in July 2017 to 438 lakh in September 2017. Chidambaram also said it was also claimed that a ‘Mudra’ loan of Rs 43,000 (average loan size) creates at least one new job. “Show me one person who can ‘create’ a new job out of Rs 43,000 investment,” he said.

The senior Congress leader said, “Another minister wanted MGNREGA workers to be counted as holding jobs. So they are ‘job’ holders for 100 days and jobless for 265 days!…Real job creation will be reflected by robust increase in private investment, private consumption, exports and credit demand. Not happening yet,” he concluded.