Bhopal: In one of the most iconic scenes from Satyajit Ray’s 1972 film Pratidwandi, the main character was asked about her “purpose in life” during a job interview. He said, “To get a job.” Nevertheless, he was rejected. Five decades later, the real and fictional worlds seem to have merged as the nation finds itself in a similar situation where an inordinate number of people are looking for work but cannot find it.
Just like the film, Suneel Vaskale, 30, a tribesman from the Kukshi bloc in Madhya Pradesh’s Dhar district, has made it his life’s work to find a job, but he hasn’t been able to get one for the last ten years. Due to poverty, Vaskale, a postgraduate with various diplomas, eventually opened a tea stall after failing to get a government job.
“My parents sacrificed many of their desires to raise me. My only goal is to take care of them and feed the family,” Vaskale said over the phone. Finding the balance between preparing for exams and working 12 hours at the tea stand is the only goal Vaskale has these days. “After working at the tea stand for over 12 hours, I’m reviewing my notes to be in the running for the job,” he said.
Vaskale is among the 39,698 unemployed tribal people in Dhar district – the highest in the state – registered with the Madhya Pradesh Ministry of Technical Education, Skills Development and Employment.
According to data presented by the state government in response to Congressional MLA Pratap Grewal during the assembly’s monsoon session, as of April 1, 2022, the state had registered 25.81 thousand unemployed youth.
Out of 25.81 lakh, 30% (7.72 lakh) of the registered unemployed belong to the caste and tribal categories, which make up 36% of the state’s total population. There were 4.35 lakh youth from the scheduled caste and over 3.36 lakh from the scheduled tribes. The remaining 70% of the unemployed belong to OBC and general categories.
These numbers represent just the tip of the iceberg. The real number of unemployed in the country will be higher because not everyone reports to the employment offices.
Speak with newsclick, Vaskale spoke of a pattern; He said: “When the election days are near, the government will advertise vacancies and seek applications. The last date is extended several times. After months of waiting, the agency announces the exam date. After a lot of shouting, the exam takes place. but the paper is leaked a day before the exam. The government then launches an investigation that lasts a year, and after irregularities are found, the exam is cancelled. But the government is holding no one accountable, no one. The process takes 2-3 years; in the meantime there are elections. After returning to power, the government forgets.”
“For example, when recruiting school teachers, the agency announced the results after a lengthy process, but the selected candidates have been waiting for the letters of appointment for 2-3 years. Upon protest, they were either removed by police or beaten with FIRs,” he added.
According to Jagdish Nigwal, another tribal job candidate from the Sondwa bloc of tribal-dominated Alirajpur district, this vicious circle has been going on for over a decade and has forced several candidates to commit suicide. “Hum taiyari kar kar ke thak gai hai. 2015 se 2022 ho gya, exam nahi ho rahe hai (WWe’re tired of preparing. From 2015 it is now 2022 and there is still no exam)‘ he said in a video clip. “The aspirants feel suffocated in this vicious circle,” added Nigwal.
The answer of the state government in the meeting also classifies unemployed young people according to how long they have been registered with the employment offices. The data shows that over 20.71,000 youth have been registered for a year or more, over 2.75,000 for three years or more and at least 68,000 for five years or more.
In addition, in the decade between 2011/12 and 2021/22, only 1,647 jobs were assigned to registered jobs in the employment offices. Of these, 760 are in the general category, 323 SCs, 300 STs and 254 OBCs.
The data further shows that between 2011 and 2021, over 8.25,000 people received offer letters through job fairs – 2.89,000 OBCs, 2.69,000 unconditional, 1.54,000 SCs, and 1.11,000 STs.
Analysis of the data shows that Gwalior has the highest unemployment rate with 1.55 lakh registered unemployed youth, followed by Bhopal with 1.31 lakh, 1.09 lakh in Rewa and 1.02 lakh in Morena. The top 5 districts account for over 20% of the state’s unemployment rate.
Applicants have lined up in Indore, the state’s commercial capital, home to 1.02 million unemployed youth Bharti Satyagrah (recruitment protest) since September 21, 2022 in Deendayal Park near Bolaram Ustad Square. The students are demanding the completion of the recruitment process for various departments that has been pending since 2018-19.
Madhya Pradesh has the highest tribal population in the country, accounting for 21.04% of the state’s population. Unemployment data presented by the government in the Assembly shows that the state has registered 3,36,950 (13%) unemployed Tribesmen.
With 39,698 tribesmen, Dhar district has the most unemployed tribesmen, followed by Jhabua with 20,121, Chhindwara 20,036, Balaghat 19,748, Mandla 18,520 and Khargone with 17,897 unemployed.
The Schedule Caste, which accounts for 15.54% of the state’s population, has 4,35,599 (16.87%) registered unemployed youth across the state.
SCs (mainly Jatavs) with a sizable population in the Gwalior-Chambal region have the highest number of unemployed youth, with 16% of all unemployed Dalits registered in government data. Gwalior, Bhind, Morena and Shivpur of the region have 71,488 unemployed Dalits.
Gwalior has the highest number of unemployed Dalits with 24,940 registered unemployed SC youth, followed by the commercial capital Indore with 22,968, while the state capital Bhopal has 21,587 unemployed Dalit youth.
Sumer Badole, a tribal candidate leading the anti-unemployment movement in the tribal-dominated Barwani district, narrated newsclick“If we ask permission to protest unemployment to make our legitimate claims, we are turned away. If we protest without a permit, the police will beat us up and file FIR to suppress our voices. Also, members of the ruling party are not threatening youth to protest unemployment.”
With the state just 15 months away from general elections, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced he would fill a lakh government post next year from August 15.
He made the announcement within two days Yuva Mahapanchayat (Youth Conference) on July 23 to commemorate the birthday of freedom fighter Chandra Shekhar Azad.
“The recruitment process for one lakh government posts will start on August 15 and will be completed in a year,” the prime minister said. Noting that unemployment is a major challenge, Chouhan said, “The government will create self-employment opportunities for two thousand young people every month, and for that melas (fairs) are held every month throughout the state.”
Data analysis by Peeyush Sharma.