“Listen, Bihar is not a BIMARU state”. This message was sent on Friday to Narendra Modi and his lieutenant Amit Shah by none else but Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. The two leaders from Gujarat have a habit of deprecating Bihar and describe it as a state with no hope under Nitish, whenever they visit the state. Bihar is among the five poorest states in India, with around 33% of the population below the poverty line. Lack of employment opportunities implied that the purchasing power of people has not improved. Bihar’s human development index continues to be at the lowest since the 1990s.
Through distributing appointment letters to1,22,336 school teachers on Thursday, with the promise to recruit 1 lakh more within two months, Nitish Kumar also tried to rebut the general perception that Bihar was a low-skill labour market. The reversal of the process of Bihari youth migrating to other states was also manifest in 30,000 youths from Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and West Bengal being appointed as teachers to serve in Bihar.
This is for the first time that the state government has embarked on a dedicated path to seriously check the migration of educated youths to other states in search of jobs. The BJP naysayers had objected to Nitish’s move to open the appointment at all-India level. They had pleaded that by resorting to this policy, he was denying the opportunities to the Bihari youths. But the government’s stand was crystal clear: if the youths from Bihar can migrate to other states for job, the youths of other states have also the inherent right to avail of job opportunity in Bihar. The Nitish-Tejashwi government nevertheless reserved around 12.5 per cent jobs for the youths from other states.
While handing over appointment letters to the candidates who have been selected by the Bihar Public Service Commission for jobs, Nitish assured that his Mahagathbandhan government would achieve the target of providing 10 lakh jobs and 10 lakh more employment opportunities to the state’s youths by the end of 2024, as promised by him last year. “Meanwhile, the education department will start the process of recruiting another 1 lakh or more teachers for government schools. The process will be completed within two months,” he said.
According to the BPSC, 8.1 lakh applications were received for the vacancies. In the results published last month, 88 per cent of the selected applicants were Biharis, among whom 48 per cent were women. Unemployment has also increased in Bihar; urban unemployment is higher than rural unemployment. What is more worrying is that the unemployment rate in Bihar (7.08%) was higher than the country’s average rate (6.1%) in 2017-18. Women in recent times have shown higher form of political awareness and inclination. There is no denying the fact providing this amount of jobs to them would help the Mahagathbandhan in a major way during the Lok Sabha elections. They will prove to be motivators for the rural women.
While BJP leaders have been busy trying to find fault and dismissing it as mere eyewash, academics and intellectuals have been busy comparing Nitish’s move with Modi’s promises. They feel encouraged at the achievement of Nitish. While Modi has appointed nearly 3 lakh youths during his ten-year rule, Nitish has absorbed around 4 lakh unemployed youths since August 2022. This he has done in a state where the opportunity for industrial employment is quite dismal. The state has also been facing financial crunch. Notwithstanding these challenges, he has managed to overcome the situation.
PM Modi’s promises have always been issues of suspect. Only on October 12, he said India’s expanding economy is creating new possibilities for the youth and the unemployment rate in the country is at its lowest level in the last six years and is decreasing rapidly in both the rural and urban areas. Modi claimed that the benefits of development are being reaped in equal measures in both villages and cities, and new opportunities are increasing. However, like all his past lies and false promises, this too was far away from reality, as exposed by a study.
He was addressing the awardees at the Kaushal Deekshant Samaroh of the ministry of skill development and entrepreneurship via video message. He told that 1.5 crore youths have been trained so far. But he was not forthcoming whether they will at all be getting jobs or if at they will get, then what is time frame.
Modi also claimed he would be making India the biggest centre of skilled manpower in the world in order to provide smart and skilled manpower solutions. He only knows whom he was trying to fool. The Lok Sabha elections are due in 2024. Obviously, he was resorting to jumlas to entice the youths and get their votes. Otherwise too, he is adept at misleading the youths. The people are yet to forget that in 2019, he had sought the votes of first-time voters to avenge the killing of 40 jawans in Pulwama.
Though ground level indices do not endorse his rhetoric, Modi continues to tell the people he would take India among the top three economies of the world and said that IMF is also confident of India becoming one of the top three economies of the world in the next 3-4 years. PM Modi underlined that it would create new opportunities for employment and self-employment in the country. He also promised that traditional sectors which provide jobs are being strengthened while new sectors that promote employment and entrepreneurship are also being promoted.
In sharp contrast, exposing his false promises and furnishing wrong datas, the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy Ltd has come out with the revelation that India’s unemployment rate has increased to its highest level in over two years in October, primarily due to rising joblessness in rural areas. The overall unemployment rate rose to 10.05% in October, up from 7.09% in September, marking the highest rate since May 2021. Even economists rely on the CMIE data for a better assessment of the labour market. The figures are based on monthly surveys of more than 170,000 households.
This underlines the worst kind of joblessness scenario that grips India. It is harrowing that rural unemployment jumped to 10.82% from 6.2%, while the urban rate eased slightly to 8.44%. This is the reality while Modi has been claiming credit for the non-existent improvement in job opportunities in the rural sector.
The most recent official report, released in October, puts the unemployment rate for the country at 3.2% for 2022-2023. Indian tech-services outsourcing firms, including Infosys Ltd. And Wipro Ltd. have already announced plans to halt hiring of college graduates, potentially leaving thousands of fresh engineering students without jobs.
In stark contrast, the latest move of job guarantee by the Nitish-Tejashwi combine is being perceived as the second masterstroke of the Bihar state government, the first being the implementation of Bihar caste census. The BJP leadership has turned positively jittery. Offering appointment letters for teaching job just six months ahead of the Lok Sabha elections will further erode the base of the BJP. With large number of upper caste youths being appointed the BJP has become clueless as how to counter the efficient Nitish-Tejashwi team.
The nature and amount of enthusiasm that grips the OBC, EBC, Dalit and Muslims youths is to be seen and believed. Coming just after the caste census, this has aroused their passion and see the pairing of Nitish and Lalu as the real emancipators of the poor. Even those who nursed anti-Nitish views are finding it tough to visualise the BJP performing well in the Lok Sabha elections. True enough, this step has helped the RJD leader Tejashvi most. At the distribution ceremony, Nitish openly credited him for the move. Nitish also reiterated a promise to provide 10 lakh jobs to unemployed youth as Tejashwi Yadav, during the 2020 state assembly elections when he was in opposition, had made this promise. Nitish’s assurance to fulfil Tejashvi’s promises has been received well by the people.
Tejashwi said: “The sound effect of this function should go all over the country and send the message that employment is the real issue, not communal hatred. The BJP distributes swords. We distribute appointment letters”. In a tacit manner, Tejashvi told the people that while BJP was turning the youths into criminals by encouraging them to take to lynching and other kinds of violent activities, they were committed to providing a better life for India’s youth future. (IPA Service)