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Unemployment rate 6.9%: Industry admits, retaining employees becoming tough

By Mahesh Trivedi*
India may be the world’s fastest-growing major economy, but the link between growth and job creation is clearly weakening. According to expert estimates, the current growth rate of 7% is only leading to just 1% improvement in employment. Indeed, the view has gone strong, if the Government of India (GoI) fails to create opportunities for the young workforce hunting for decent jobs, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s re-election dream may be smashed to smithereens and the economy’s current pace of expansion would be stonewalled.
Not without reason, India’s 30-million-odd frustrated job-hunters appear to be fretting and fuming over the GoI’s failure to provide employment.
On November 8, the opposition Congress Party held nationwide protests, marking the second anniversary of demonetization, which many of these youths feel, left them bruised and battered.Earlier, 10,000 angry, educated members of the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) from different states, marched to Parliament to express their anxiety about their future and disappointment with the betrayal of promises made by the prime minister in 2014.
Addressing the youth, DYFI leader Preethy Shekhar told the angry youth that the Modi government in its slew of tall promises had launched ambitious projects in their name, but these had fallen flat. Projects like Skill India and Make-in-India had failed to produce even half the amount of targeted jobs shattering especially women job-seekers’ dreams.
Studies revealed that the unemployment rate in the country has risen to 6.9%, the highest in two years, and the count of the jobless men and women actively looking for job almost doubled to 29.5 million last month from a low of 14 million in July last year.
According to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, the labour participation rate – a measure of the proportion of adults willing to work – fell to 42.4%, the lowest since January 2016, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi kept shouting from rooftops about a “fourth industrial revolution”, saying it will change the nature of jobs and provide more opportunities.
After taking up the reins of the country, the Modi administration had promised 20 million new jobs every year, meaning 90 million jobs by now after four and a half years, but the data released by his government shows that only 600,000 new jobs have been created.
The plight of on-the-breadline job-seekers could be gauged from the fact that as many as 992 PhD scholars, 23,000 M Phil holders, 2,50,000 post-graduates and 800,000 graduates were among the two million applicants for exams conducted earlier this year by the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission to fill 9,500 posts of typists, village administrative officers and stenographers, not to forget the 28 millions who applied for 90,000 jobs in the Indian Railways not long ago.
An Azim Premji University study found that the unemployment rate among the highly educated youth in India is as high as 16%, and after demonetization and goods and services tax (GST), the small and medium industries in the country had collapsed with an estimated job loss of 2.4 million, with export rates falling by 24%.
In Modi’s own home state of Gujarat, six million people are running from pillar to post for decent jobs and some 3,000 youths have committed suicide in the past 17 years, including the 13-year Modi rule, after they lost their job or were sacked from their cash-strapped workplaces.
While former president of the Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry Bipin Patel said that sectors like textile and diamond were crippling, and even retaining existing employees was becoming tough, Gujarat Congress spokesman Manish Doshi said the state government was making hollows claims about employment and blasted its fixed-wage policy.
With the government not stirring a finger to rehabilitate them in the Valley, even Kashmiri Pandits leading an exiled life for the past 29 years are seething with anger after 250 of their marchers demanding the promised 6,000 jobs for displaced youths were beaten black and blue and hauled up by the police in Udhampur district last fortnight.
Mahesh Trivedi
If out-of-work youngsters in Odisha have been demonstrating in front of government offices and accusing ministers of swindling huge money in the name of organizing job fairs, the government of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party in Rajasthan, which boasts a huge 53 percent youth population, is also under fire for failure of its ambitious skill development programs and for providing jobs to only 12,854 youths out of the 860,000 available-for-hire citizens registered in employment exchanges.
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*Senior Ahmrdabad-based journalist

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