Will the Modi government take away the issue of unemployment from the opposition?

Chandan Kumar Jajwade, BBC correspondent

The Government of India is talking of providing jobs to 10 lakh youth by the end of 2023. Prime Minister Narendra Modi started it on 22 October i.e. on the day of Dhanteras under the name ‘Rozgar Mela’. PM Modi on Saturday handed over appointment letters of government jobs to 75,000 youth under the first phase.

These recruitments will be given in 38 ministries or departments of the central government including UPSC, SSC and Railways. That is, departments like Railways, Defense, Banking, Posts and Income Tax are included in this mega plan. This scheme was announced by the Prime Minister’s Office in June this year by tweeting.

It was told that Prime Minister Narendra Modi reviewed the human resources in all departments and ministries and has ordered to recruit 10 lakh people by the end of next year under this mission.

On October 22, the departments for which the letters were given for the jobs also include the railways. Railway is one of the highest government job giving departments in India.

Indian Railways spokesperson Amitabh Sharma had told the BBC that during this period around 8,000 youths would be given job offer letters in the railways. This also includes those seeking jobs on compassionate grounds. Earlier, the opposition has continuously attacked the central government on the issue of employment.

Even Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal and RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav have been besieging the Modi government on the issue of unemployment. That is, at present, the problem of unemployment has been a big issue for the opposition to surround the central government.

The issue of rising unemployment has been giving the opposition weapon of attack on the government from North to South India and from East to West India.

Opposition is making employment issue

A large number of people seeking government jobs are from Bihar’s youth. Government jobs have been a big election issue in India in the last few years. In Bihar, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav had even promised jobs to 10 lakh youth if the government was formed in Bihar during the 2020 assembly elections.

After the formation of the JDU and RJD coalition government in August last, Tejashwi Yadav had talked about giving jobs to at least four to five lakh people.

Tejashwi Yadav has put many pictures on his Facebook on Friday. In these, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav are seen handing over job letters to the youth in the Health Department.

Tejashwi Yadav wrote in his Facebook post, “Today Bihar created history. Hearty congratulations to all of you. In a single day, the newly selected 9,469 health workers of the same department were handed over appointment letters today. The path shown by Bihar is now complete. The country has to come to our job-employment issue.”

That is, even from this post, Tejashwi Yadav is seen making job and employment a big issue.

record high level of unemployment

All the states including UP, Bihar, Jharkhand have their own promises and claims regarding the job. At the same time, every state government ruled by opposition parties has repeatedly accused the Modi government of increasing unemployment.

In fact, in the year 2019 itself, the biggest 45-year unemployment figures were revealed in India. There was a lot of controversy over the leak of these figures ahead of the general elections that year.

According to reports, later the government released its figures itself and admitted that the unemployment rate in India has become the highest in the last four decades.

The government had earlier dismissed the leaked report saying that the unemployment figures are yet to be finalised.

But the opposition has been continuously questioning the policies of the central government on the issue of employment ever since this news came to the fore.

According to data from the Center for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), the unemployment rate in India as on October 20, 2022 is 7.8 percent. In this, the urban unemployment rate is 7.5%, while the figure for villages is 7.9%.

This year, the central government has told Parliament that in the eight years between April 2014 and March 2022, about 22 crore people had applied for permanent jobs in central government departments.

During this only 7.22 lakh people got permanent jobs in the central government. Simply put, out of the number of people who applied for the job, only 0.32 percent got the job. BJP MP Varun Gandhi himself has raised questions on the central government on this issue.

Varun Gandhi had questioned the government in a tweet, “When there are about one crore sanctioned posts vacant in the country, then who is responsible for this situation?” This is just one example of the unemployment situation in India.

Can Modi government change the atmosphere?

In such a situation, the question arises whether the promise of giving jobs to 10 lakh people in the next one and a half years from the central government can also snatch the issue of unemployment from the opposition.

Mahesh Vyas, MD of the Center for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), told the BBC: “The promise of the government is huge. The initiative that the central government is taking to provide jobs to one million people is huge and important.”

The anger of the youth regarding rising unemployment has also been shown on the streets many times. There have been demonstrations demanding jobs in many states like Bihar, UP, Telangana, Rajasthan and Haryana. The anger of the youth is visible on the streets in search of jobs.

Mahesh Vyas says, “There are not many agitations for job demand in India. The ruckus that happened in states like Bihar or UP in the past was because of the change in rules. Be it the matter of rules of NTPC exam of railways. The ruckus of the Agniveer scheme during this period was due to the change in the rules.

“Children prepare for a job with some understanding, then they come to know that they will get a job for four years and that is what they protested about.”

In fact, there were protests in many parts of the country against the ‘Agneepath scheme’ of the central government. Violent incidents also took place during the protests at several places in Bihar and Madhya Pradesh.

The Government of India will recruit youth between the age group of 17.5 years to 21 years in the army for a short period under this scheme. The youth had protested demanding recruitment in the army in the old fashioned way. There was a lot of political uproar over this plan.

Earlier this year, there was a lot of uproar over the recruitment process in the Non-Technical Popular Category (NTPC) examination of the Railways. Later, the Railways made a committee and made changes based on the suggestions of the students.

Obviously, the problem of unemployment is a big issue even for the Modi government. Therefore, in the Union Budget for the financial year 2022-23, the central government has set a target of creating 60 lakh jobs in the next five years. In such a situation, giving jobs to 10 lakh people will be a big achievement.

However, the BBC tried to get information from the Ministry of Labor and Employment, Government of India, on the issue of how many people would be given in which department and what kind of job. But he says that its figure is not available at present.

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