What is disappointing about PM Modi’s “Pakoda Seller” Statement?

There are many sad aspects about PM’s Pakoda seller statement. The statement assumes things which may not be true even for a kiosk business (in Hindi “Thela lagana”).

The first thought which comes to my mind whenever our Prime Minister or any person in the Government makes ill-advised statement is that – He is not that foolish to mean what he has just said. He is an intelligent man. But such out of tune or ill-advised statements have become a norm. That’s why over the time, people stopped commenting over them and rightly so.

But what to do when such statements occupy the media and political space for half of a month?

In that case, a comment or a critique of such statements becomes necessary; if not in some prominent TV Channels or Print newspapers, then at least in some online portal.

Roughly, 10 days ago, in an interview to a TV channel, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had questioned:

“If a person sells ‘pakodas’ and takes home Rs. 200 every evening, will it be considered employment or not?”

The statement has created a high ruckus since then. Many people see it as one making a mockery of people’s unemployment.

So is the statement that bad?

Yes, it is. The statement assumes that every person irrespective of his/her education will start a kiosk business (in Hindi “Thela lagana”).

The statement assumes that if every jobless young man or woman motivates himself/herself to become an entrepreneur and value “hard work” over “smart work” the problem of unemployment will get solved automatically.

The statement assumes that every roadside kiosk owner makes Rs. 200 every day 180 days a year (I’m not saying 365 days, although he/she must make that much for 365 days to make ends meet or survival.

The statement assumes that a roadside Kiosk owner has the same level of fucutre secutrity, as an engineer, doctor or any one with a good well-paying job.

And finally, PM Modi’s statement assumes that every roadside kiosk becomes Haldiram or any modern day tech startup becomes Facebook.

The last assumption of PM’s statement may look a little far-stretched to some, but let I tell you that majority of start-ups fail. When it comes to a business, a road side kiosk business is not any different from a well-meaning tech startup.

To conclude, it’s disappointing and sad to hear such a careless statement from a country’s Prime Minister. Unemployment is a real problem for young men and women in India. But when they demand jobs, they mean real jobs. A real job is the one which does justice with the person’s education, skills and self-estimation and pays accordingly.