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Now, the Business Standard report said that joblessness stood at 7.8% in urban areas compared with 5.3% in rural areas.

Mohanan told NDTV that he had quit over "disagreements" with the government on the release of a jobs survey and concerns about it being buried in election season.

The numbers show that Modi's ambitious Make-in-India project, which aims to lift the share of domestic manufacturing from 17 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) to about 25 percent and create jobs for an estimated 1.2 million youth entering the market, has failed to take off.

The report has been mired in controversy after two members of the National Statistical Commission (NSC) resigned on January 28, saying that the government had withheld its release. NITI Aayog said that the data on jobs is not official and has not been verified yet.

That year, when India was just coming out of a war with Pakistan and hit by global oil shocks like other oil-importing countries, the unemployment rate was 5.18 percent.

"The data, as cited by the news report, shows that there has been a rise in unemployment and a decline in the labour force participation rate (LFPR) post demonetisation, which is in line with what we have also been saying", said Mahesh Vyas, chief executive and managing director of the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), which has done its own unemployment surveys.

The government's failure to release the NSSO report was the latest sign of a complete lack of transparency regarding jobs data, they said.

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Though India's economy has been expanding by 7 percent plus annually, uneven growth has meant that new jobs are not keeping pace.

According to the report, accessed by Business Standard, the unemployment rate was at its highest level since 1972-73.

Instead, the report showed 18.7 percent of urban males aged 15-29 were without work, and the jobless rate for urban females the same age was 27.2 percent.

The survey by NSSO was the first one since the infamous demonetisation in November 2016, which brought the Indian economy to a grinding halt.

After the chaotic launch of Goods and Services Tax (GST) in July 2017, hundreds of thousands have lost jobs in small businesses. The BJP claimed that the Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) data on job creation show "sharp increase" in employment generation.

Earlier this month, the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, a leading independent think-tank, said the country lost as many as 11 million jobs a year ago. Dubbing the Prime Minister as "Fuhrer", Gandhi said that, "unemployment is at its highest in 45 yrs".