Monday, July 15, 2024

What worries us?

For seven months in a row, the cost of living (inflation) has been the top global concern in the ‘What Worries the World’ global monthly survey, published by Ipsos. The survey explores what the public thinks are the most important social and political issues, drawing on more than ten years of data to place the latest scores in context. In the October edition, more than four in ten persons (42%) choose inflation as one of the top worries affecting their country. This worry is triggered by the rising cost of goods in the last 15 consecutive months, as October witnessed a further two-point rise. Across all countries, worry about inflation is followed by poverty & social inequality (32%), unemployment (27%), and crime & violence (26%), and financial & political corruption (26%) which together makes up the top five global worries. Climate change ranked seventh in the list of 18 worries with a global average of 17% choosing it as a concern. Coronavirus is now at the lowest level since it was added to the survey’s list of 18 worries in April 2020. One in ten (10%) chose it as an issue affecting their country, down 2 points from September, and it has fallen to 13th on the list of global worries. Only eight months ago in February, it was the top concern globally. The list of top concerns for Indians is apparently unemployment, and financial & political corruption. According to the survey, unemployment has emerged as the biggest worry of urban Indians, tied at the top spot. While financial & political corruption (27%), crime & violence (25%), poverty and social inequality (22%) and climate change (22%) remain the other major concerns for the Indian populace. The report also revealed that 2 in 10 of urban Indians were worried about inflation (21%). Interestingly, India was placed last among 29 markets in its worry around inflation. On the contrary, global citizens were worried about issues around poverty and social inequality, unemployment, crime and violence and financial and political corruption ~ as the figures above show already. According to the survey, floods and adverse climate impact are making urban Indians worry about climate change. For all the ruling BJP Government’s bullish and muscular pretence, India is still reeling from the collateral impact of the prolonged Coronavirus pandemic and the global slowdown of the economy due to the war in Ukraine, which are impacting jobs, leading to rise in corruption, crime and social inequality. Even the inflation impact is manifesting itself though to a lesser degree than elsewhere in Europe and the US. If it brings any solace, India’s unemployment rate dropped drastically to 6.43% in September on the back of an increase in labour participation in the rural and urban areas, data released by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) has said. Last month, the unemployment rate surged to 8.3% as employment sequentially fell by 2 million to 394.6 million. The report said that the nearly 8 million increase in labour participation was a sign that the economy was doing well. Nevertheless, the issue of unemployment needs to be addressed by the Government on priority and not misuse it as an electoral plank or for political leverage. Good jobs are a top priority worldwide. Policy-makers in advanced and developing economies alike are stressing the need for well-paying employment with job security and career paths, even as globalisation and technological change make it clear that this task can’t be left wholly to markets. Policy-makers typically focus on things like minimum wages, collective bargaining and investments in skills. But as important as these areas are, they are not enough. Productivity is the key. The supply of good jobs can increase only if the jobs created for the bottom and middle of the skill distribution become more productive, enabling higher pay, more autonomy and brighter career prospects. Or else, mandating higher wages and better work conditions can leave less-educated workers priced out of job opportunities.