By Nanoosh Kumar:
Work is a measure of societal status from the days of the early civilization, besides being the basis of our survival. But the societal stratification has erred in the past decade and the plight of Indian unemployment is a categorical example of it.
The current demography of India, with its young population, would be a bliss for many nations including the developed. For India, the elderly dependency ratio is a mere 9%, while for Germany it is 32%, Japan, 33%, Greece, 33%, US, 22%. India has 50% of its population below 25 years, 65% below 35 years and by 2020 it is predicted that an average Indian will be 29 years old, while for China and Japan it will be 37 and 48 years respectively.
Any blessing, if carelessly dealt with, will lead to catastrophe. This catastrophe can be more clearly pictured by imagining 23 lakh candidates with mixed educational backgrounds, from primary school educated people, to postgraduates standing in a long queue in front of a kiosk offering the job of a peon. Assuming each person occupies a linear space of 30 cm, a 690 km long queue will be formed. This is what precisely happened in Uttar Pradesh in the second week of September 2015, when 23 lakh candidates applied for just 368 vacancies, for the post of a peon in the government secretariat. This incident highlighted the graveness of the unemployment scenario of India in a nutshell, as the applicants included 250 doctorates, 25,000 Postgraduates, 1.5 lakh graduates, 7.5 lakh Higher secondary school pass outs and 11.2 lakh class 10 or equivalent pass outs, for a job which required only a qualification of a class 5 student and cycling skill.
If, similarly, the whole percentage (4.9 %) of unemployed youth between the age of 18-29 in the total population of India, amounting to about 6 Crore, is made to stand in a queue, it will be a jaw-dropping 18,000 km long, greater than the entire frontier of India (which is only 15,200 km). This is equal to the entire population of Italy which is the 23rd country in the UN by population.
A statistical bird’s eye view of the same can be pictured from the Annual Employment and Unemployment Survey Report, 2013-14, conducted by the Labour Bureau. Unemployment ratio for the age group of 18-29 years is 12.9%, while for above 30 years it is 1.4%, which points out that there are very few opportunities for fresh entrants. Unemployment among those with degrees is 28%, while for below primary and pre-primary literates in the age group of 18-29 years, it is 4%. Among graduates it is 14%, postgraduates, it is 12%, while for illiterates it is 2%.
Thus, the normal notion that higher the education, higher the employment chance, is under folly. A strong reason for the same can be attributed to the survey findings by NDTV and The Hindu that stated that around 50% of Indian graduates are unemployable.
The foremost step to counter the same should be to formulate precise, authentic information on employment and related data. This should include at least a 5-year medium-term future forecast of employment and its characteristics with greater emphasis on the forthcoming year. This can be achieved by coordination of various agencies involved in data assimilation, like NSSO, CSO, Labour bureau etc. The implementation of knowledge commission recommendations, like revised standard syllabus, development of a research culture, industrial collaboration of education, MoU between various national and international institutions with greater importance to indigenous requirements, development, trade, commerce and services along with the forecasted data on employment can be effectively utilized for predicting the characteristics of forthcoming employment requirements to equip the candidates with greater employment-related skills rather than drawing lines on water.
The best solution to the problem of unemployment can be deciphered from the same Labour Bureau Report, 2013-14. The majority of employed in India are self-employed (42%), while 35% are casual labourers and only 23% are salaried employees among the age group of 18-29 years. Thus, in new innovative start-ups and ventures lies the future of India. A hard push given to the low labour intensive service sector must be repeated with greater force to the SME’s and agri-related business where ‘Amul’ like magic by visionaries like Dr. Varghese Kurien can be repeated across the nation.
Indians are now giving a better social position to the entrepreneurs who are job creators than job seekers which itself is a bit adventurous, a change in trend from the recent past where a safe salaried job was highly sought after. Indians were the best of traders and entrepreneurs in the precolonial period and were very prosperous, and such risk-taking ventures had a high value in the society then. I hope that the same era will soon arrive which has become a necessity due the grave unemployment mess in the society at present than ever. The government on its part should facilitate the smooth and swift shift of such a societal strata for the betterment of a vast wide section of unemployed youth to bring back the pre-colonial entrepreneurial atmosphere and prosperity.