By Lata Jha:
I’m sure quite a few of you would agree with me on this. For as long as we can remember, we wanted to grow up, do our own thing, be the kind person of person we wanted to be.
And yet, reality dawned upon me gradually, and not too gingerly when I realized doing my own thing meant earning my own cash. The world was hit by a recession when I was in class 10, but I think we, in India have been facing these issues for as long as one goes back in time.
Agriculture has been our dominant economic activity and yet has been able to contribute only marginally to our economic growth in the last many decades. The youth that does manage to break away from roots and stereotypes faces severe unemployment. The foremost argument against this sad state of affairs, and one that we absolutely cannot refute, is that there are just too many of us competing for a very limited number of jobs. Precious little has been done to deal with this and either enhance resources or diversify them.
Our technological progress has only aggravated our dismal employment ratios. Machines have replaced men. And the result hasn’t been too good. India is not a country where we can comfortably let technology do the talking for us. Our labour is our pride. And even the most prudent among us know that it requires a great deal of creativity to operate even the most advanced and sophisticated machinery. On one hand, we haven’t been able to tap that potential fully and some of our brightest software engineers are twiddling their thumbs as managers at counters of cyber cafes. On the other, those still bound to tradition and norms, the ordinary B.A graduates haven’t found their place under the sun at all.
These issues can also be traced to our education system. Not most streams and courses are truly job or vocation oriented, and technical education is still not in vogue. Women are still outrageously underemployed and a lot of men too find it difficult to keep up with times and make much of the degrees they spend half their lives toiling for.
Unemployment today, has gone beyond just poverty and declining social prestige. It almost poses a threat of civil strife, where ‘sons of the soil’ take to the dagger and swords to protect their resources when ‘outsiders’ come to partake a share in their territory, on account of the lack, or absence of opportunities in their homelands.
The un-manifesto demands a government which realizes how these seemingly insurmountable problems boil down to the sole issue of unemployment. It may be an uphill task, but it’s certainly not impossible. Increasing pay scales, introducing innovations in small towns, better funding of employment exchange units, and the need to realize that public sector companies should not be left to languish; these are some of the simplest suggestions.
His problems are just as simple as the aam aadmi himself is. They require no revolution, unlike a lot of other things in the country. Just an immediate need to wake up and smell the coffee.