Jobs Crisis In India

Nine years ago I put both my feet in education. This gave me the privilege of travelling to the beautiful nooks and corners of our diverse country, seeing schools, meeting teachers and students, in villages and kasbas. I was quickly disabused of the notion that the problem of employment and livelihood was anything much to do with education. Even if one is to focus only on those students who ‘do well’ in schools and colleges, it does not matter. 

Because the pie of employment and livelihood opportunities is so small and growing so slowly (if at all) that it is an intense struggle for everyone. Enough opportunities are just not there for even the best educated. Education must be improved for all in this country, but that will not solve the issue of employment and livelihoods.

-Anurag Behar, (VC, Azim Premji University), State of Working India, 2018

India is facing a huge jobs crisis. Millions of young Indians are looking frantically for jobs. Just as farmer suicides, youth suicides too have become a reality in India now. India has one of the world’s highest suicide rates for youth in the age‐group 15 to 29. Every hour, one student commits suicide in India; in the five years 2011–15, 40,000 students killed themselves. According to news reports, a large number of these suicides were related to unemployment. Every mood of the national survey puts lack of jobs as the biggest problem faced by the people today. The nature of unemployment in India is changing. Traditionally, the major challenge has been to find jobs for the surplus labour leaving agriculture. Now, with the rising Gross Enrolment Ratio(GER), educated unemployment is a major issue. According to a recent report by the Centre for Sustainable Employment, it has reached an alarming level of 16%. This is the state of affairs when the labour workforce has not been increasing much due to increased GER. In short, educated unemployment is a ticking time bomb that can explode at any moment. In fact, some glimpses of this in various caste-based mobilisation are already visible.

Suicide rates are increasing as millions of sanctioned govt posts lie vacant

In India, govt jobs are the primary attraction for job seeking youth. Data from the successive rounds of nationally representative youth surveys conducted by the Lokniti research programme at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) shows that the attraction of a Sarkari Naukri(Government job) has increased over the years. In 2016, it was 65%. Among the college-educated youth, this is even much higher at 82%.

Despite this strong demand and enfeebled state capacity due to lack of staff, Central Govt and state governments remain unwilling to fill vacant posts. An estimation of the number of vacancies done by collating replies by various departments and ministries in the Parliament puts this number at 24 lakh.

Governments are highly reluctant in giving out accurate vacancy figures, as replies to RTIs filed by us reveal. An exhaustive calculation of all the sanctioned vacant posts under all the state governments and municipalities to a figure close to five million.

In its bid to reduce the number of sanctioned vacant posts, this data conscious Modi Government is abolishing govt posts. It has asked all the ministries and departments of the central govt to identify all those posts, which have remained vacant over the last five years and abolish them. A govt infamous for driving young people to suicide by the delays it causes in handing out appointment letters to selected candidates is showing undue promptness in seeing through this notification. It has already sent multiple reminders to the Ministries and departments for hasty execution of the order. It should be noted that no study has been done to assess the impact this order will have on the functioning of the Government.

The Flourishing Unemployment Industry

The number of applicants in a railway recruitment exam for 90000 govt jobs is making international headlines. The amount these applicants have paid as examination fees to the Govt is humongous. Over 2 crores applicants submitted 2 crores multiplied by ₹500 = ₹1000 crores. This is the amount students have paid in just one exam in one year. Every year unemployed youth pay thousands of crores as application fees for various exams. Apart from application fees, they also have to spend a lot on preparation in coaching institutes, travelling for exams, centres of which are placed in far away place quite often, staying in places away from their homes, etc. All this constitutes ‘UNEMPLOYMENT INDUSTRY’, which is flourishing at the cost of helpless struggling unemployed youth.

Employment Capacity of the State

Almost all of India’s governance problems can find links to the lack of manpower in state services.


-Rethinking India’s Public Institutions

Almost all of India’s governance problems can find links to the lack of manpower in state services. India has only 12-15 judges per million compared to the US’ 110 per million. The immediate goal is to reach the law commission’s 50-judges-per-million recommendation. Similarly, India has about 129 policemen per 100,000 citizens—only Uganda fares worse. In order to meet the UN recommended ratio, India is short of half-a-million policemen. The situation for judges and the police also holds true for firemen, traffic police, garbage collectors, inspectors, engineers, bureaucrats, and so on.

Millions of young people looking frantically for jobs can be employed if Govt gets serious about revamping its governance structures and start managing its finances well.