No Vacancy

These days Prime Minister Narendra Modi doesn’t talk much about job creation. His promise of creating two crore jobs every year, of giving Rs 15 lakh to every citizen is now a big joke. He will go down in history as the most successful destroyer of jobs in organised sector and unorganised sector as well. The way he has ruined micro, small and medium (MSM) enterprises in a very short period by ruthlessly executing demonetisation coupled with goods and services tax (GST) net has no parallel. Small businesses employing maximum number of workers in informal sector have been crippled beyond repair. The much publicised tea vendor is now the worst enemy of street vendors. Big players are forcing small traders even in remote rural areas to leave retail market. This is neo-liberalism in action.

The union government is no longer interested in recruiting permanent staff in its own departments. Most of its crucial departments are under-staffed. Too many job hunters are chasing too few jobs which in the end creates job-rioting every now and then. At the time of Republic Day celebration in New Delhi thousands of job-seekers took to streets and became violent in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar protesting the flawed selection process for railway recruitment. Indian Railways had advertised about 35,000 jobs in 2019 while 1.25 crore youth applied for the posts. Finally 60 lakh sat for the test. It tells the dire employment situation and the Modis have nothing to say about it. The hard reality is that the central government is not recruiting new hands in most crucial departments. In truth they are resorting more and more to contractual practice even in perennial nature of job violating its own law, encouraging big business to stop permanent recruitment and do away with whatever remains of social security. As the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government insists on what they call ‘minimum governance’, most labour-intensive departments run with minimum number of employees, blocking the prospects of future recruitment. About 2.48 lakh civilian posts are reportedly lying vacant in the defence ministry, some 1.28 lakh in the home ministry and over 2.37 lakh in the Railways that saw a virtual job riot recently in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Despite the corona pandemic sweeping the country the health ministry has not filled up 2000 vacant posts and hundreds of qualified nurses after completing graduation in nursing are wandering in wilderness. There are over 1800 posts of nurses vacant. The much talked about Ganga Rejuvenation Programme has over 4,500 vacancies and Ganga has now the added burden of carrying corona related dead bodies. For one thing the vacancies in government departments mostly lie in low-paid categories—grade-C non-gazetted posts, involving meagre budget allocation.

As for educated youth the scenario is equally bleak. Over 33 per cent of faculty posts in central universities are vacant. There are currently 48 central universities, catering 7,20,025 students. As per Government data, of the 18,905 sanctioned posts in the central universities, 6,333 were vacant as of October 1, 2021. Everybody knows how banks operate these days as they are to cope with increased work load with minimum staff, albeit public sector banks have over 41,000 vacancies. High Courts are short of 400 judges and cases are piling and piling. Postal Department needs 73,000 Gramin Dak Sevaks (peons) to keep rural postal service moving. No, they are not going to recruit these low-salaried employees requiring minimum educational qualification.

The tendency of the government is to continually reduce budget allocation in education and health. Privatisation is the answer. Basic health care is out of reach of common people. The authorities are finding it difficult to tackle the Covid pandemic because of shortage of staff though over 9000 posts of technical staff, like pharmacists, X-Ray technicians and laboratory assistants are lying vacant. The government has no intention to fill up the vacancies.

It doesn’t require much to duel over unemployment statistics as migration from villages to cities for jobs tells the real story. The frustration exhibited by job hunters in Bihar and UP over irregularities in Railway recruitment is just tip of the iceberg. That the Modi government is totally indifferent to the continually rising jobless situation, a direct outcome of jobless growth, is a fact of life.

If they cannot provide jobs, they can always offer some doles to pacify the poor. One of the vote-catching policies of Modi was cash-handout under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojona, totalling some Rs 69,000 crore, less than half the corporate tax relief. And in reply corporate lords are increasingly resorting to automation, using robots in all labour-intensive industries only to aggravate the unemployment situation.

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Vol 54, No. 35, Feb 27 - March 5, 2022