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Employment: Beware of false promises!

‘Gajab Kiya Tere Wade Pe Aitbar Kiya Tamam Raat Kayamat Ka Intezar Kiya’
The striking contrast between the promise made in 2014 of creating two crore jobs every year and the latest startling figures of unemployment reminded me of the above couplet of eminent poet Daagh Dehlvi.
One of the issues stressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the 2014 electoral battle was unemployment. He had promised to create two crore jobs every year after coming to power, but the unemployed kept waiting for jobs and when the truth came out they were stunned.
All this began with the resignation of two members of the National Sample Survey Organisation. It was alleged that despite the completion of the report, the Modi government is not releasing the figures of unemployment. The alleged report was ‘leaked’ by an English newspaper.
According to the report, the rate of unemployment in Modi regime was 6.1 per cent i.e. the highest level in the last 45 years. In other words, the number of unemployed persons in 2018 was more than six crore.
The Niti Ayog in a hurriedly called press conference claimed that the report has not been prepared as yet. The Niti Ayog also claimed that the number of the Employees Provident Fund Scheme has increased, which indicates employment growth.
If the report which has generated such political hullabaloo is true, then it disproves the claims of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government on the employment front. It also shows that all the plans of the Modi government to generate employment could not gather momentum. Whether it is Mudra Yojana or start-up or Make in India, none of these plans took off and eventually petered out.
There was a high rate of unemployment in the country in 1972-73. After that, the employment figures remained low, but such a huge army of unemployed was never seen. The report leaked from the National Sample Survey Organisation says that 18.7% youth and 27.2% women from urban area do not have any job. When the Congress government was in power in 2011-12, this figure was only 2.2 per cent. Similarly, 17.3% educated young women from the rural areas are unemployed. This section of the unemployed is in the age range of 15 to 29 years.
The unemployment rate is so high that I receive hundreds of applications every month for jobs. I also receive a large number of such letters which earnestly appeal to help them get a job.
It is important to know what effect the 'note ban' and GST had on jobs. Every minister of the Modi government has been claiming that 'note ban' and GST did not make anybody jobless but on the contrary new jobs were created. Statistics of the Labour and Employment Ministry show that the rate of unemployment in the country in 2015-16 was 3.7%. That time 'note ban' and GST were not implemented. 'Note ban' was implemented in November 2016 and GST in July 2017. Between 2016 and 2018, the unemployment rate increased from 3.7 to 6.1 per cent. In simple words, the number of unemployed in the two years after the 'note ban' and GST has increased by about three crore.
It can also be said that after the 'note ban' and GST, about three crore people lost their jobs.
No politics should be played on the issue of unemployment because it is a very sensitive matter. The more the number of unemployed, the weaker our economy will be. Uncontrolled unemployment only means that our economy is sick. We will have to go to the root of the causes of unemployment to find a solution to the problem.
Regardless of which party is in power, highest priority of the government should be to create as many job opportunities as possible.
India is called the country of youths. Out of our 130 crore population, 65 per cent is under 35 years of age. Ironically, there is no job available for people of less than 35 years of age. Today it is Modi government and tomorrow another government may come. Regardless of which party the government belongs to its highest priority should be to create as many job opportunities as possible. We urge the Modi government not to conceal the facts on the employment front. It must have definitely made efforts to overcome the problem of unemployment. It is a different matter that their efforts did not succeed. Whatever the reasons for this and whatever the government's compulsions, they should not turn away from reality. I sign off by quoting the lines of eminent poet Nasir Kazmi:
Teri Mazbooriyan Doorast Magar, Tune Wada Kiya Tha Yaad To Kar.

Priyanka will write a new script with Rahul

Priyanka’s entry into active politics will provide a big boost for Congress; party confident of her potential
Congress workers as well as the common man are very optimistic over the entry of Priyanka Gandhi into active politics. Everyone has pinned a great hope on her. Many people also see the reflection of Indira Gandhi in her. Notably, she has a deep connection with the people of Amethi and Rae Bareli. People there say that Priyanka Gandhi blends with the common man so normally that sometimes even her security personnel get astounded by their familiarity. Her spontaneity, simplicity and ability endear everyone. I have myself known her for a long time and have realised that she has vision and simplicity. She has country’s best interests in her heart and is worried about the common man’s welfare and wants to make their life happy and comfortable.
That is why she is getting an all-round welcome on her entry into active politics. In July last year, Priyanka Gandhi had personally met all the Congress leaders who were operating different sections of the party. She asked just one question to all such leaders as to what agenda they had for the next 100 days. This question is important in itself. This is the real identity of a leader that she seeks to know the attitude of her colleagues. After these interactions with the leaders, it seemed that Priyanka Gandhi is now ready to enter active politics. Not that she was not in the field earlier. During various elections in Amethi and Rae Bareli, she has remained active behind the scene. The public service runs in her blood and she has been learning the nitty-gritty of politics fast.
There is no doubt that she is the trump card for the Congress in the current situation. The Congress was just waiting for the right time. Under Rahul Gandhi, the party has captured Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan in the recent Assembly elections. Congress hopes that in the Lok Sabha elections, Rahul Gandhi together with Priyanka will be able to script victory for the party.
Priyanka’s entry has disturbed not only the Bharatiya Janata Party but also the other political parties which were indulging in the politics of brinkmanship to marginalise the Congress. The SP and the BSP have already marginalised the Congress in Uttar Pradesh. Congress has surprised everyone by saying that it will contest all the 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh. Nevertheless, Rahul Gandhi has shown his generosity by keeping the doors of alliance open for them. Uttar Pradesh has the highest number of 80 Lok Sabha seats. The most significant thing is that the Congress president has not only appointed Priyanka Gandhi as general secretary but also entrusted her the responsibility of Eastern Uttar Pradesh, which is the most important area in terms of politics today. The constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and that of UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath falls in this region. Priyanka has accepted a big challenge. While the BJP feels Priyanka’s entry will weaken SP-BSP combine, Congress believes it will neutralise the BJP. However, the SP and the BSP believe that if Modi is the target of each and every party, the Congress should not contest all the 80 seats as it will harm everyone.
Casteism weighs heavily in UP politics. In Eastern UP, a large population of Dalits, Muslims and Brahmins had been deciding the outcome and direction of elections. When the Congress won 21 seats in Uttar Pradesh in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, 13 seats came from this region. Clearly, there are people who support Congress but over the period, they sided with the BJP, SP and BSP. The situation became so bad that in the 2014 LS polls, Congress candidates in 20 of the 33 seats in the region lost their deposit. This clearly means that Priyanka’s task is daunting. But there is no denying the fact that Priyanka’s entry has enthused the Congress workers like never before. Now the Congress is hoping that Priyanka Gandhi’s aura will connect the disjointed sections to the party. The Congress will be able to recover the lost ground. Despite being a national party, Congress has no existence in UP at present. Therefore, a new beginning has to be made and the Congress has done exactly that by bringing in Priyanka. However, who gains from this move remains to be seen.
The confidence of the Congress vis-a-vis 2019 Lok Sabha elections can be gauged from the fact that Rahul Gandhi has clearly said the Congress will now play on the front foot and not the back foot. Certainly Priyanka Gandhi has the ability to play on the front foot. Rahul is already playing on the front foot with full confidence.
And of course, I would definitely like to discuss one more thing which the opposition has been hammering again and again. After Priyanka Gandhi was made general secretary, opposition parties started harping on the dynasty slogan. Right from Jawaharlal Nehru to Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi to Rahul Gandhi, their ability earned them the love of this country. If there would have been any greed, had Sonia Gandhi declined the post of the Prime Minister? Priyanka Gandhi will also sustain on her own ability. And do the opposition parties not have members of the same family active in politics? Not only India, this has been happening in the US too. The then US president John F Kennedy’s brothers Robert and Ted Kennedy were senators. Some other members of Kennedy family were in politics too. Will two members of the Bush family becoming US president be called dynastic politics? Is the example of Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton a case of dynastic politics? Such allegations can only be described as low-level politics, nothing else!

Paramount question is: Where are govt jobs?

Reservation for the general category poor is welcome, but the point is: Why was it thought of only at the time of elections?
The Central government announced a 10 per cent reservation for the general category poor in government jobs in such a hurry that the Opposition parties were left bewildered. I am using the word hurry because right before this announcement, the government had itself stated that there was no proposal under consideration of the government for granting reservations on economic basis. Obviously, the proposal came suddenly and the electoral arithmetic is very obvious.
A demoralised Bharatiya Janata Party which suffered severe electoral drubbings in the three states took such a step so that it would gain electoral benefit in Lok Sabha elections.
Objectively, this is a good step. Efforts should be made to bring the people of any caste or religion to the mainstream. No poor person can be deprived on the basis of which caste he is born in. An attempt was made to grant reservations on economic criteria even when Narasimha Rao of Congress was the prime minister, but the Supreme Court did not consider that basis to be valid. The BJP government has amended the Constitution to avoid this situation. Most parties, including Congress supported the Central government in this matter because all parties wanted such a change. Only a couple of parties protested the move.At present, the BJP seems to feel euphoric at what it considers to be its masterstroke believing that it will reap electoral dividends in the Lok Sabha elections.
But the big question is that even if the provision of reservation has been made, where are the government jobs?
There is mismatch between employment generation and the workforce. Let alone the government, even the private sector is not able to generate jobs for the number of educated youths being churned out by our universities. You can predict the worrisome situation of unemployment in the country from the fact that recently the railways advertised one lakh jobs after 30 years. These jobs were for track men, porters and electricians. Just hold your breath, a whopping 2.30 crore people applied for these posts. Mumbai Police was to recruit 1,137 policemen for which more than two lakh people applied. Among the applicants were many well educated youths. Similarly, mote than two crore people applied for the 368 clerical posts in the Uttar Pradesh secretariat. Just consider the data of the Staff Selection Commission; it invited applications for 40,000 different posts in 2016-17 and received 3.37 crore applications. Before that, it had received 1.48 crore applications for 25,138 posts in 2015-16.
These are intimidating figures which raise the legitimate question that when unemployment is increasing at such a fast pace, why is proportionate employment not being generated?
When jobs do not exist then what is the use of reservation system? The government should be asked how many jobs it has created to benefit the reserved categories. BJP had promised the moon to the youth of this country during the last election under the leadership of Narendra Modi. He had talked about providing jobs to two crore youths but he could not fulfil his promise. Nobody is able to tell as to how many young people got jobs.
The latest figures of the labour bureau are not available. But according to the data available, the rate of unemployment in the country has reached the highest level of five years during the year 2015-16. A report also came in which it was said that on an average more than 500 jobs are disappearing every day. It is feared that 70 lakh jobs out of the existing jobs will disappear completely by the year 2050. There are many reasons for this worrisome phenomenon.
The biggest reason is the rapid change in technology. But then the government should make plans to deal with this situation which does not seem to be happening.
Now leave aside jobs, let’s talk about employment only and the scenario looks frightening. Earlier, the agriculture sector employed about 60 per cent of the people, but this figure is now less than 50 per cent. Young people are migrating to cities in search of employment. Employment situation in cities is also not very good. It is believed that the construction sector generates the highest employment. But after the note ban, this sector has been the most affected and the employment opportunities have reduced.
The youth of the country understands the entire situation. He sees his trust betrayed. He knows that the announcement of reservation is redundant because when jobs are not there, what will be the benefit of reservation?
He knows that these are election gimmicks. The youth of this country is dreaming of the day when there would be so many opportunities available for employment that he would not need reservation. But there is no hope for this at the moment. For political parties, it has become more important to win elections somehow and stay in power at the cost of the nation.

Politics of poaching, attack on democracy

Is power more important than democratic values for the BJP which harps on political purity?
Just remember the situation after the Karnataka Assembly elections. By winning 104 seats, the Bharatiya Janata Party emerged as the largest party. After the election results, the Congress had declared unconditional support to Janata Dal (Secular), which won 37 seats. Then the Congress had 78 MLAs. The JD(S) was supported by a BSP MLA too. Thus, a group of 116 legislators had formed a united front against the BJP. The group also informed the governor about having a majority, but the governor invited BJP to form the government. Congress also knocked the door of the Supreme Court. Hearing was done at midnight but Yeddyurappa got the chance to form government. On May 17, 2018, he took oath and became the chief minister. Subsequently, the Supreme Court directed Yeddyurappa to prove majority on the floor of the Assembly by May 19.
Yeddyurappa and his party probably believed that they would lure 8 MLAs from the opposition camp and get the support of requisite 112 MLAs.
The Karnataka Assembly has a total of 225 MLAs, including a nominated one. There are a total of 224 elected MLAs. Since elections to 2 seats were countermanded, it required only 112 MLAs to form majority. The BJP had made a lot of efforts and tried all kinds of tricks. But so less was the time that it was not possible to garner the required number of legislators. Congress and JD(S) openly charged that the BJP was giving all kind of temptations to the legislators. But the Congress and JD(S) MLAs remained united. Even two independent legislators were also with the JD(S). Finally, on May 19, 2018, Yeddyurappa had to resign as he was not in a position to prove majority. He could not get more MLAs on his side. The JD(S) and the Congress formed government. HD Kumaraswamy took over as the chief minister.
Now, remember what exactly did Yeddyurappa say after resigning, having failed to muster the majority?
He had said that this government will not last more than three months. If Yeddyurappa was giving such a statement about an elected and majority government, it is clear that there was some plan in his and his party BJP’s mind to topple the government. They did not do anything in three months, but in the eighth month of the Kumaraswamy government, the BJP played the trick. ‘Operation Lotus’ was launched secretly. It was an attempt to poach some Congress MLAs. This time, the BJP had full confidence because there were news of power struggle between Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah and water resources minister D K Shivakumar.
Two independent MLAs who were first to fall in the BJP’s trap, withdrew support from the government. The alarming bells started ringing in the Congress camp when it realised that some of its MLAs were in touch with the BJP. They were kept in Mumbai and elsewhere. The BJP had kept its own MLAs in a resort near Delhi. Meanwhile, the chief minister Kumaraswamy contacted the MLAs caught in the BJP’s trap and talked to them. Thus, the BJP’s gameplan boomeranged this time too.
In this entire context, the biggest question which arises is why does the BJP try to poach opposition MLAs?
If the people of Karnataka have not completely trusted the BJP or if other parties do not trust it either, it should wait for five years! In politics, the true verdict is delivered only in the people’s court. Indulging in horse-trading and poaching legislators of other parties with huge stack of money or enticement of ministerial position is a direct attack on democracy. It is even more serious that the BJP is being accused of using foul means since it never tires of boasting about introducing cleanliness in politics. Karnataka JD(S) leader KM Shivalinge Gowda even alleged in a press conference that the BJP leader and former chief minister Jagadish Shettar had offered to give a JD(S) MLA a whopping Rs 60 crore and a ministerial post but the MLA in question refused to accept it. There are many more serious allegations. The BJP, however, has denied these allegations. But the moot question is why are such allegations being levelled against the BJP and its leaders who seize every opportunity to beat the drums about political purity?
Why does it try to reverse the mandate in any state and turn it into its favour. If this is not an attack on the democracy, what else it is?

Sheikh Hasina has done a creditable job

Underdeveloped Bangladesh will join the rank of developing countries in 2024
Last year, when the UN talked about striking Bangladesh off the list of underdeveloped countries by 2024 and upgrade it to the rank of developing countries, Sheikh Hasina became a talking point all over the world. In the meantime, elections took place and Sheikh Hasina’s party won the election by a huge majority.
Sheikh Hasina retained power. She is going to take charge as the Prime Minister for the fourth time this month. She has been in power since 2009.
There are also several allegations against her regarding rigging in elections. The main opposition party, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, has not accepted the latest elections, but the fact is that Sheikh Hasina is a popular leader of Bangladesh. Actually, Bangladesh came into being only because of her father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Earlier it was part of Pakistan. Later, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, his wife and three sons were assassinated during the military coup. Sheikh Hasina had survived.
Despite initial difficulties, she did not give up and emerged as a powerful leader. Sheikh Hasina has been leading the ruling Awami League since 1981.
Howsoever much one may criticise her, the truth is that she has galavanised the economy of her country and put it on the expressway of development. Ever since she came to power, Bangladesh’s economy has been growing at an average annual rate of 6 per cent. Per capita income has increased three times during her reign. At present, the per capita income is about `1.21 lakh. It has achieved near self-sufficiency in terms of food production. Poverty is rapidly decreasing. Textile industry is growing rapidly. The textile market is fast growing at a rate of around 15 per cent. Bangladesh ranks second in the world in terms of manufacturing of readymade garments. China occupies number one position. Bangladesh has taken a long jump in the field of digital economy too.
According to information, approximately 28 per cent of those who have bank accounts in South Asia do digital transactions, whereas in Bangladesh the number of digital transactions has crossed 34 per cent.
Sheikh Hasina has not only made her identity as a development-friendly leader, but also carved a distinct identity for herself as a secular leader. There was a time when fundamentalism was rapidly spreading in Bangladesh. Islamic State had started making forays into the land. The country had seen a series of killings of free thinkers, poets and politicians. In 2016, the Holy Artisan Bakery was attacked. After this, Sheikh Hasina decided that she would teach the fundamentalists a lesson. So far, hundreds of terrorists have been killed and hundred others are locked up in jail. There is no harm in saying that it is due to Sheikh Hasina’s strong will that there has been a great deal of control over terrorism in Bangladesh.
People of all religions feel secure there. For this, she is being praised all over the world. Sheikh Hasina has shown her resolve to join hands with the whole world in fighting terrorism.
I often interact with several editors in Bangladesh at the international forum. According to them, there were allegations of corruption against many prime ministers including Khalida Zia. They were siphoning money out of the country. Nothing was happening in terms of development. Therefore, the entire country has high expectations from Sheikh Hasina. I had also asked a question that Bangladesh despite being a Muslim country, women are ruling.
What could be the reason? Editors said the question was not that of a man or woman but what was important was who had the capacity? Sheikh Hasina has that capacity.
There is no doubt that Sheikh Hasina has an emotional relationship with India. She is considered to be pro-India because India had openly helped her father in the Bangladesh liberation war. She has not forgotten that debt, but what should worry India is the growing presence of China in recent years. Last year when 25 per cent of the Dhaka Stock Exchange was available in the market for sale, India tried to bid for it but ultimately it was China which outbid India and grabbed 25 per cent share.
I believe that the deal should have been struck by offering a little more price because Bangladesh is our neighbour and our presence should be there in every form.
China is deliberately making its forays into Bangladesh. It knows that there is immense potential for development in Bangladesh and if India’s role is eliminated from that country, only China will benefit. China is building a bridge worth $4 billion and is ready to release a huge credit. The result is that Bangladesh is gradually going to sit right there in China’s lap.
Sheikh Hasina wants money for the development of her country, and if India does not give it, China will. International politics does not just operate on emotions.
We can not assume that just because we have liberated Bangladesh, it will stick to us. What is needed today is that we pay attention to the needs of Bangladesh and not let a neighbour part from us. If we try a bit hard, success is possible.