The unemployment rate in India rose to 7.2% in February 2019, the worst since September 2016
Youth (15-24 years) comprise more than 20% of Rajasthan’s population
Wasim Ahmed spends his days ferrying people to and from the famous Dargah Sharif in his autorickshaw in Ajmer. Packed with eateries, and flower and garment shops, the narrow lanes do not allow using bigger vehicles and Ahmed says he makes enough to make ends meet. But he’s worried about the future of his brother, who is studying law.
“He can’t do this job, can he? It’s okay for me but there are thousands of graduates in the country sitting at home. There are no jobs for them," said Ahmed, putting his finger on the biggest issue for the youth in Rajasthan, and the rest of the country. Fighting unemployment was the promise that played a role in bringing the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to power in 2014, but five years later, voters feel, it has not delivered.
The unemployment rate in India rose to 7.2% in February 2019, the worst since September 2016, according a report from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, a Mumbai-based think tank. The number of those employed fell by 18.3 million over the same period.
Youth (15-24 years) comprise more than 20% of Rajasthan’s population. The state is known for rising tourist numbers, but its educated youth does not seem to have benefitted.
Mehtaab Gadhilo, a 47-year-old blacksmith, and his 24-year-old son Mukesh are taking a break from work in Putholi village on the outskirts of Chittorgarh. The father is worried about the lack of opportunities for his son, and this is a factor that will weigh on his mind when he votes on 29 April. “We save and send our children to private schools because the quality of education is better than in government schools. It costs ₹8,000-10,000 a year to send a child to private school. But once they finish, they have to do the same work as us because there are no jobs," he said.
Mukesh agreed: “There are no benefits in our line of work. The BJP promised jobs but did nothing."
Ahmed, the autodriver from Ajmer, said government jobs are well paid but too few. “Hundreds of candidates compete for a handful of posts," he said. Private companies do hire but the salaries are extremely low, he said.
In their campaigns, the Congress candidates have attacked the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government for its failure to create jobs. The party manifesto promises to increase government jobs and fill vacancies by 2020.
Rajput Deepak, 19, works at a shoe store in a mall in Udaipur while pursuing a bachelor’s degree but worries he may have to stay at the job even after he graduates. “There are new avenues for work but they do not match qualifications. While the NDA has been good, they should focus on jobs in their next term," said Deepak.
At the state level, the Congress has not managed to impress voters since it came to power a few months ago. The Ashok Gehlot-led state government had announced an allowance of ₹3,500 per month for unemployed youth in Rajasthan in the run-up to the assembly election.
Voters feel these are promises that have not been fulfilled either—and it’s casting a shadow on the Lok Sabha election. “The promise of giving unemployed youth money remains unfulfilled. The government seems to have forgotten. Just like this, they may forget about their promise of NYAY once they come to power," said Raghav Singh, a postgraduate student in Udaipur.
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