Modi govt crushed hopes, dreams of India's youth leading to rising suicides: Congress

In a statement, Jairam Ramesh said unemployment in India remains a severe problem as well as the hidden under-employment

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh (Photo: IANS)
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh (Photo: IANS)


The Congress on Thursday targeted the Narendra Modi government over the issue of unemployment alleging that it has crushed the hopes and dreams of India’s youth, leading to rising suicides among them.

Congress general secretary communications Jairam Ramesh alleged that the government, instead of dealing with the crisis of demographic dividend turning into a demographic disaster, might want to “manipulate” the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data due for 2022 to hide the alarming suicide rate among the youth.

In a statement, he said unemployment in India remains a severe problem as well as the hidden under-employment.

Ramesh cited the interactions of Rahul Gandhi with porters at the Anand Vihar Terminal in New Delhi where he had noted that large numbers of educated youth, including those with engineering degrees, were unable to find formal employment and were forced into precarious informal jobs such as porters.

The Congress general secretary said the massive failure of the Modi government to provide sufficient formal-sector employment has led to this situation.

Ramesh cited data from the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) for 2021-22 that shows that formal sector employment remains 5.3 per cent lower than it was in 2019-20. Further, the number of formal employers has declined by a massive 10.5 per cent from 2019-20 to 2021-22.

According to a report from Azim Premji University, the Congress leader said, 42 per cent of graduates under 25 were unemployed in 2021-22. Jobs in manufacturing dropped 31 per cent between 2016-17 and March 2023, according to Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) data.

“The latest Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) for Jan-March 2023 shows that even in urban areas, less than 50 per cent of workers are salaried. The latest all-India PLFS data, including rural areas, is much worse – in 2021-22, just 21 per cent of workers have formal jobs, which is still lower than the pre-pandemic period of 23 per cent. Instead, self-employment and casual employment have risen.

“These numbers show that the unplanned lockdown, in combination with disastrous economic policies and the cronyism of the Modi government, have actually shrunk formal employment opportunities for educated youth,” he noted.

Ramesh said in such a scenario a situation has arisen when in January this year, 8,000 candidates applied for 92 clerk positions at Gujarat University, including those with M.Sc and M.Tech degrees. In June 2023, 10.5 lakh people applied for 4,600 clerk posts in Maharashtra, including MBAs, engineers and PhD holders, he said.

With economic distress reducing jobs in the private sector, highly educated youths are being forced to compete for a minuscule number of government posts, he noted.

To make matters worse, even the public sector has been shrinking under the Modi government, he claimed.

As of August 2022, he said, 9.8 lakh Union government posts were vacant; CMIE data shows that government jobs declined 20 per cent between 2015-16 and 2022-23; India now has one of the lowest numbers of public employees per 1000 population, lower than the US, Brazil, and even China.

“Rather than dealing with the employment crisis, the Modi government is busy hiding and distorting data and focusing on gimmicks. With the EPFO data, rather than rely on the stable annual estimates, they are touting unreliable monthly data, intentionally ignoring the fact that the monthly data is revised continuously by over 50 per cent at times and has major discrepancies,” Ramesh said.

“To further cover up its failures in providing government employment, the prime minister personally holds Rozgar Melas making a complete mockery of routine government workings. Despite massive gaps in the public sector, of close to 10 lakh vacancies, the Modi government makes a big show of 50,000 job letters for posts that were already sanctioned, and claims that it is generating employment.

“Further, RTI data from The Telegraph shows that while all job letters at Rozgar Melas are being presented as ‘new recruits’, a sizeable number are actually just promotions,” he alleged.

Most disheartening of all is a statistic from the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) April 2023 report, he said.

A full 33 per cent of India’s youth neither has a job nor is taking educational or training courses, and this number rises to over 50 per cent for women, he said, alleging that “the Modi government has crushed the hopes and dreams of India’s youth to the point that they do not have jobs and have given up on the future and to the point that they refuse to invest in education or training”.

“The tragic consequence of this is that the youth suicide rate (age below 30) has been growing sharply since 2016 and has reached 4.9 per lakh population in 2021, the highest in 25 years.

“Instead of dealing with the crisis of demographic dividend turning into a demographic disaster, we should not be surprised if the Modi government’s next move is to manipulate the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data due for 2022 to hide the alarming suicide rate amongst the youth,” Ramesh said.

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Published: 28 Sep 2023, 5:37 PM