The Jobless: Berozgaar Party of India

By March 2022 the unemployment rate in Jammu and Kashmir has touched 25%, much higher than the national level unemployment rate of 7.6 %
"These parties serve as a barometer to understand the magnitude of joblessness of the young and their search for institutional mechanisms to agitate their sectional problems."
"These parties serve as a barometer to understand the magnitude of joblessness of the young and their search for institutional mechanisms to agitate their sectional problems." File/ GK

There are times in personal and institutional life when you dig into something to identify a problem and surprisingly you are confronted with a different set of problems.

The Election Commission of India recently asked registered and unrecognized political parties to submit their financial reports and election expenditure statements to avoid consequential action. As a result of this, it came out that many parties are there for different classes and cohorts.

These parties viz, the Engineers Party of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu Job Seekers Party and ‘Educated Unemployed Army’ of Uttar Pradesh have been formed only to succeed where recognized parties in power have failed.

These parties serve as a barometer to understand the magnitude of joblessness of the young and their search for institutional mechanisms to agitate their sectional problems.

The governing and the ruling classes need to take a break from rhetoric and find out the route to a prosperous future for all, particularly the young. By March 2022 the unemployment rate in Jammu and Kashmir has touched 25 percent much higher than the national level unemployment rate of 7.6 percent. I won’t be surprised if in near future this provokes the jobless into launching their Berozgaar party in Kashmir.

Model of Development

The deficit in the development model followed by the Indian state post-1990 has been a subject-matter of discussion among economists and planners for a variety of reasons.

Development is defined as growth and progress. It is desirable growth which is called development having desirable outcomes consistent with the preferences of the people.

After 1947 India was building a modern nation-state within the framework of social democracy with the means of parliamentary democracy and a mixed economy.

The first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru believed, “it is not the large scale industry that brings injustice and violence but the misuse of large scale industry by private capitalists and the financiers”.

A series of reports released by Oxfam and the World Inequality Lab in 2018 are not only revealing but terrible as far as new political economy is concerned. The Oxfam survey says that India’s richest 01 percent corner 73 percent of the national wealth.

This picture gets murkier when we witness the increase in the number of billionaires in India from one in 1990 to 131 in 2018. Mukesh Ambani’s net worth increased by 350 percent between 2016 and 2020.

His fellow tycoon Gautam Adani’s net worth increased by 750 percent during the same period. In 2008 in a speech to the Bombay Chamber of Commerce former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan evinced a “threat of oligarchy in India”.

This speech went unheeded at that time. In 2011 Jayant Sinha and Ashutosh Varshney wrote somewhat strongly that it is time to rein in India’s “robber-barons (the industrialists in the USA at one time made fortunes through unethical practices and came to be known as robber-barons).

This model of development is largely held responsible for the crisis in livelihoods and employment. The job problem is worsening by the underlying structure of the Indian economy.

To paraphrase Charles Dickens, it was the best of times for some and the worst of times for many. This makes the case for filling a status report of jobs that are available in the government sector. However, the private sector which continues to be seen by many as a principal arena for job creation has a major role to play.

Employment Status

We are having more and more welfare schemes by the government committed to the framework of more governance and less government. True welfare schemes have their utility in our setting particularly in their new avatar as digital and direct cash transfers with minimum leakage.

But the fact remains that these schemes are no substitute for durable quality jobs which are very much needed in a developing country like India. According to one estimate as of March 31, 2021, there were 8,72,234 vacancies in the central government and the government filled up just 78,264 vacancies.

Another estimate has it that there were 60 lakh vacancies in the government across all levels in July 2021. Of these over 9.1 lakh in central government, 02 lakh in public sector banks, 5.3 lakh in state police, and 8.3 lakh in primary education.

Former Finance minister P Chidambaram opines that there are jobs but the problem is that government is timid. They are afraid to create jobs that are needed in the government sector because they have allowed themselves to be deceived by the illusion that a small government is the best government.

The scheme called Agnipath is quite simple. Forty-six thousand will be recruited every year to the three defense services. They will be provided training for six months and deployed for 42 months. At the end of 48 months, one-fourth will be retained to serve another 11-13 years. After that, they shall move into society and we have no clue about their future role.

In 2019 according to the National Crime Records Bureau, an Indian citizen died of suicide every hour due to joblessness, poverty or bankruptcy. Hence, we need to peep into the government apparatus to find jobs to be filled up as our top priority.

Many experts and people having experience in running the government believe that India has millions of jobs like sanitation and conservation workers, teachers, sports coaches, libraries, researchers, food processors, paramedics, teachers, city planners etc.

These are all essential and productive jobs and if explored can give a fillip to other activities core to the developmental process. Further, economists tell us that oceans, rivers, water bodies, dry land agriculture, and waste management too have the potential to generate more durable jobs so essential for giving impetus to different development activities in the country.

Dr Devi Shetty founder of the Narayan health chain of hospitals believes that in India we need 200, 000 gynaecologists but have less than 50, 000, half of them don’t practice obstetrics. Further, we need 200,000 anaesthetists but have less than 50, 000.

We need 200,000 paediatricians to take care of the kids, we have less than 50,000. Further, we need at least 1,50,000 radiologists, we have less than 10,500. The health sector, everybody knows has huge significance in any country more so in India where after every hour there is one pregnancy-related death.

The government of India in the run-up to the 2024 elections has announced 10 lakh jobs. Earlier before the 2014 elections government had announced 2 crore jobs a year.

These are mere announcements and government has to walk the talk and look towards the development of the country from the perspective of human development. The casualisation of government employment is rooted in the political economy of failure.

State Security/Human Security

Politically, the usage of the term security increased after the 2nd world war which privileged the nation-state. The new concept of security emerged after the end of the cold war which is comprehensive. Thus, after the realist theory, the critical theory made its presence on the landscape of International Relations (IR).

The latter came out of ‘The Frankfort School’ led by Herbert Marcuse. We need critical theorists to argue to remove structures that dominate people. It is thus possible to focus our attention on the problems of the people. It became possible to expand the concept of security and broadly three rights came to redefine human security.

Security is a co-relate of political and civil rights. Security is a co-relate of social and economic rights, and security is a co-relate of one’s right to culture and community. Human security after the financial crisis and the Covid 19 has assumed new dimensions. An idle brain is a devil’s workshop related stories were taught to us in our schools.

Cheating Syndicate

There is now an industry thriving on unemployment in different parts of the country. The cheating syndicates, influential patrons, and predatory coaching institutes are exploiting the young and angry in the name of employment.

The state governments have found in delaying tactics the means to contain the frustrations of the youth. The eligibility test for around twenty lakh teachers in Uttar Pradesh has been going on since 2019 and lately, the paper got leaked and the chief minister says the government will invoke ‘The Gangsters Act’ and ‘The National Security Act’ to catch the culprits.

As this column goes to print the selection list of sub-inspectors in police in Jammu and Kashmir has been quashed. The Jammu and Kashmir Service Subordinate Board (JKSSB) has collected Rs 77 crore as examination fees between March 2016 and September 2020 from job hunting candidates.

The National Security expert Praveen Swamy described the increasingly violent young cohort as the biggest National Security problem.” The main occupation of many young Indians has been waiting for life to happen” according to anthropologist Craig Jeffrey.

In Kashmir, we see gang culture as well as violent crime. On April 22, 2019, General D S Hooda, the architect of surgical strikes submitted a report on National Security. He outlined five key tenets of security viz, global affairs, secure neighbourhood, internal conflicts, protecting people and strengthening capabilities.

He observed that the main goal of National Security is protecting our people. We need to solve the climate change, and job crisis that harms the people. We need not dig into the past but look to the future.

The above analysis of a very complex problem demands that we need a conversation in our universities, colleges and other institutions on what can be done to rescue our youth from the ills of joblessness. These institutions need to consider the world beyond the familiar themes that dot our discussion.

In India only 2.3 percent of India’s workforce has formal training compared to 96 percent in South Korea and 80 percent in Japan and 52 percent in the USA. We need to understand that jobs are to be created for 7 to 8 million per year.

It is important to note that India will have slow growth, rising poverty, and a shrinking middle class. In Kashmir the employment woes are serious on account of no private investment, shrinking welfare domain of the state and expanding security domain which acts negatively on many issues central to job creation. In March 2022 a 33-member delegation including countries from the Gulf Cooperation Council participated in invest summit in Kashmir.

It is expected that 70,000 crores worth of investment shall be made in areas viz, cold storage, food processing, real estate, hospitals, hospitality and education. There is potential for generating 6-7 lakh jobs provided all this gets translated into concrete projects.

I have observed through daily interaction with my students and scholars that more and more young people look at a bleaker future compared to their parents. In Kashmir, the poor were always invisible but the middle class was visible. The latter are confronting on a daily basis economic uncertainty and job insecurity for their kids.

Prof Gull Wani is Kashmir based Political Scientist

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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