2019 Lok Sabha election campaigns too engulfed by unemployment as major issue

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The state governments and the new government at the centre to be formed after May 23, 2019, should pull up their respective socks if they seriously want to deliver good governance. Unlike the 2014 Lok Sabha (LS) elections, the then star campaigner- Narendra Damodardas Modi at every public meeting assured generating employment for the youth, now his Progress Report after five years in power does not show any improvement in reducing the unemployment index. This has brought back into focus the ugly image where job crisis is the biggest issue, followed by the National Security as the major concern of the electorates, as revealed by a survey just after the air strike on Balakot in Pakistan.

According to the survey across a wide section of society from the unemployed to housewives, land owning farmers, landless agricultural labour, government servants, private employees and self-employed, 34.8 per cent of jobless respondents identified unemployment as the most important problem. But 27.4 per cent of private employees, 25.5 per cent of self-employed and 20.5 per cent of housewives also said that unemployment was the main problem.

Just a significant of 0.4 per cent of the unemployed said that National Security was the main problem. In fact, national security gets less than one per cent traction across various segments of society. But terror attacks continue to be a concern for 10.4 per cent among unemployed, 13.6 per cent land owning farmers saw it as major issue and 14.3 per cent government servants saw it as the main problem.

It may be noted that while assuring employment during 2014 campaign, Modi made all efforts to keep-up to the poll promises and launched the flagship programmes like Skill India, Make in India, National Skill Development Corporation India (NSDC) and a special schemes for the North Eastern Region as STAR programmes, making an attempt to equip the youth with employable skills. However, due to the absence of aptitude of the youth to pick up skills in these programmes, and lack of resource personnel to impart skills, the flagship programmes proved to be a disaster and have failed to generate employment. Even the attempt to re-employ the retired defence personnel for the same could not take off successfully.

Modi’s attempt to start from the grassroots, planning for the future, failed to understand the nerves of the India masses, which need to see results while the NSDC is taking too long to yield the same. At the same time, the parameters set for the programmes were too difficult to meet. This has given the Opposition the needed ammunition to blast away at Modi and his NDA government while accusing it of failure to create jobs in the last five years.

However, the rise of unemployment is not only during the outgoing Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) regime. It is an age old problem in India as neither the state nor the central governments have any blueprint for creating jobs, nor is there any available inclusive Industrial Policy. To create jobs, India needs something on the lines of the Industrial Revolution of Europe during the early 19th century, where almost every industry has avenues for employment.

The education system in India needs a revamp, where more professional courses should be introduced. The attempt by the NDA government only to introduce vocational courses at the Higher Secondary Level will not help. The professionals with Industrial experience should be lured in to teach the students, so that the students will have the knowledge about the market demands, and be productive on day one of the job. Reservation and quota of teachers for all such professional courses is only resulting in the employing of unskilled personnel as resource persons, which will only produce unemployable youths, as of now.

In the case of Meghalaya, the educated youth should be encouraged to venture out into production and producing industries, and not to keep waiting for the opening of government posts which is resulting in artificial unemployment while at the same time not opening up avenues or employment. Meanwhile, most of the unemployed youth do not feel bad taking up menial jobs as delivery boys either for the courier companies or the recently launched home delivery system for various eateries in the state capital.

More than the soap operas based on upper-middle class setting, Indian Television should encourage shows that glamorize agriculture so that the youth are attracted to the main-backbone of the nation, as the craze for the Information Technology sector is resulting in a scarcity of jobs which are only attainable after facing stiff competition.

It is futile to assure employment, unless the respective party’s manifestoes do not spell out the road map for the creation of job avenues and an investor friendly industry policy for India. In the absence of which, the problem of unemployment will remain an agenda for every election without any solution for years to come. Hence, the Political Parties and the candidates for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections should work out a strategy for generating employment which is the biggest crisis of the nation.