Presenting a bleak picture of unemployment in Chhattisgarh, thousands of graduate and post-graduate students, some even with PhDs, recently appeared in a written exam to qualify for government peon jobs. The minimum criteria for the job were an 8 pass, knowledge of cycling and basic writing skills.
Long queues formed outside 657 examination centers in Raipur as 2.25 thousand candidates applied for just 91 vacant peon posts in various government departments.
Manoj Kumar Patel, a naturalist, once had ambitions to become a deputy collector. After years of unemployment, he is now ready to take on the job of a peon. “I’m still preparing for the Union Public Service Commission exam, but years of unemployment have forced me to apply for a peon’s job,” he said.
Even engineering graduates had lined up for a peon’s job. Saurabh Chandrakar, an electronics and telecommunications engineer, applied for a job as a peon after failing to find a suitable position in his field.
Narmada Chakradhari, an MA in Hindi, said: ‘I’ve taken many exams for government jobs but I just couldn’t pass. Now my family wants me to get any job. So I applied for the peon position.”
Chhattisgarh government data says the state has the lowest unemployment rate in the country. This August, unemployment in the state was 0.4 percent, compared to 8.3 percent nationally, official statistics showed.
But day laborer Yogesh Wankhede committed suicide in Raipur last week after being laid off. He has worked as a day laborer for the past eight years as a driver in the State Food Administration. His wife Sarswati Wankhede claimed that even the court ruled in his favor and allowed him to return to work, but his employers simply would not let him.
The opposition BJP has questioned the Chhattisgarh government’s claims about the state’s unemployment rate. Former minister and senior BJP leader Ajay Chandrakar slapped the congressional government in the face and said: “CMIE [Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy] has repeatedly claimed that Chhattisgarh has the lowest employment rate of any state. But the reality is that 2.25 lakh applications have been received for 91 peon posts in government departments. This government does nothing but spread lies.
Responding to the BJP’s taunts, Prime Minister Amarjeet Bhagat said: “The central government has failed to deliver on its election promise to provide two million jobs for the youth every year. The BJP should see to it that it privatizes every single institution in the country that is capable of providing government jobs.”