The Big Story: Backbone

India’s service sector was famed for being the backbone of the country’s economic growth story, even though the industry as such only employed a small number of people. That number is now about to become even smaller. Reports from multiple outlets suggest Information Technology firms are about to see mass layoffs, as companies struggle to change with the times and adapt to new markets and expectations.

Hindu Businessline called it Nightmare on IT street. Mint said that, altogether, as many as 56,000 engineers might be losing their jobs this year. According to the Times of India, the industry has not seen layoffs like this since 2008, when the global economy crashed. The final numbers are expected to be in the tens of thousands by the end of the year.

This comes just as Prime Minister Narendra Modi is hoping to celebrate his third anniversary with a big gala that will attempt to convince the people of India that the country is not just flying under his leadership, it is soaring.

Modi came to power on the promise of development for the majority of Indians, promising to take everyone along on a journey that would yield huge numbers of jobs. Instead, his government has focussed on more narrow cultural concerns, while the larger question of job creation remains unanswered. Now with the spectre of large-scale layoffs in the IT sector, it is crucial that the government takes a careful look at why companies are choosing not to retain people.

If the service sector, which was the backbone of the Indian growth story, is facing hard times, it is unlikely that other industries in India are doing much better, agriculture aside. The government would do well to make the question of providing jobs its abiding concern over the next year, instead of a continued focus on frivolous issues from who stands up when the national anthem is being played to controlling what people can eat and when.


  1. Sidharth Luthra in the Indian Express looks back at the selection process that made Justice Karnan a Supreme Court judge in the first place.
  2. TCA Raghavan in the Hindustan Times examines the options for India and Pakistan in the Khulbhushan Jadhav case.
  3. “The state cannot seek to take life because it has an equal commitment to everyone within its fold,” writes Anup Surendranath in the Hindu.

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Naveen PM writes about the searing ache of being a family caregiver in an Indian city.

Unlike the West, institutionalised care is frowned upon in India. Family members are usually the only caregivers in charge of someone in the family struggling with a disorder such as dementia – the major reason being the strong family and social system prevailing in the subcontinent. Joint families are still somewhat common in urban areas but are certainly the norm in towns and villages. If an elder in the family falls sick, or is diagnosed with a chronic condition, the entire household rallies to help get them back on their feet. But the changing social context here, in particular, the brain drain and mushrooming of nuclear families in urban centres, influenced by a number of factors such as westernisation, is placing considerable strain on dementia caregivers looking after their loved ones.

According to the World Health Organisation, there are around 50 million people in the world living with dementia. India is home to 10% of that population. Elderly folk, of 65 and above, are most susceptible to fall prey to this affliction. To exacerbate the already grim situation, there is a dearth of trained specialists in India. According to a study by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, there is just 1 psychiatrist for every 300,000 people in India. In fact, the strength of the entire mental health workforce is just over 7,000 – nowhere near the actual requirement of 54,750. Secondary options like hospice, palliative or home health care leave much to be desired. As if this were not enough, lack of awareness and societal stigma towards mental health and mental illness also play a significant part in families often refraining from getting professional help.