Rajasthan government attempts to patch up employment figures even as livelihoods disappear
Jaipur: In Rajasthan’s Alwar district, the suicides of four young men who were unable to find employment has given a strong impetus to the opposition campaign of attacking the BJP government’s inability to deliver on tall promises of creating lakhs of jobs. The deceased were identified as Manoj Meena (24), Satyanarayan Meena (22), Rituraj Meena (17) and Abhishek Meena (22).
The suicides came 11 days after the BJP claimed in a tweet that the party had fulfilled its 2013 manifesto promise of providing 15 lakh jobs, sparking off a furious debate on social media. The tweet from the party’s official Twitter handle also claimed that the government had created 44 lakh jobs through skill development and self-employment, even as its 2018 election manifesto promises 1.5 lakh government jobs and 50 lakh jobs in the private sector in the next five years. State Congress president Sachin Pilot wrote in a tweet, “this claim of Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje is a lie” and asked the government to make public the list of the 15 lakh youth who had received employment.
Political rhetoric apart, a look at the figures put out by different government agencies on the number of new jobs created and the effectiveness of the different skill development schemes, which BJP leaders are touting in their poll campaign, only adds to the confusion. As does the ground reality of how well the much-touted Mudra scheme has worked.
Vacancies still pending
Dalchand Sharma, a resident of Kallapura village in Dholpur district, had taken a loan of Rs 20,000 under the Mudra scheme to open a shop but had to return to his family farm as he says the amount was “too little to open a shop”. Another villager Dalchand, who too had taken a Mudra loan, is back to farming for the same reason. Kalyan of Bijhauli village took a loan of Rs 50,000 to open a general store in 2015, is currently working as a stone cutter. Yet, people like Dalchand and Kalyan are shown in government records as ‘self-employed’ only because they had availed loans under the Mudra Scheme.
Official figures claim that in Rajasthan, from 2015 to 2018, loans worth Rs 33,971.54 crore were disbursed under the Mudra scheme. “Providing loans and giving employment are completely different things,” said Amit Basole, professor, Azim Premji University, Bengaluru. “Suppose a beneficiary has taken a loan but has spent money on other things, how could you consider that person as employed?” Basole added that there is no system under the Mudra scheme to check who is doing what after taking a loan.
Strangely, even as controversy rages over job creation numbers, lakhs of vacancies in government positions are pending. From 2013 to October 2018, the government had declared 2,25,398 openings. Of these 1,06,548 are yet to be filled. The department of education had announced the highest number of openings at 1,43,373 of which 88,648 are still pending. In the police, 2,155 of 15,155 openings are pending. Several other posts across departments like RAS, school assistants, nurses, lab assistants, librarians, stenographer, pharmacists and assistant engineers remain vacant, as per government records.
’26 suicides in five years’
Rajasthan Unemployed Unified Federation President Upen Yadav says these vacancies remain as there is no standard system or rules across different departments for recruitment. “Each government fills the positions according to their own system,” said Yadav, “and errors in recruitment question papers is a major concern for jobseekers applying for these posts”. He says the government should issue a White Paper on the numbers it is claiming or apologise for lying.
“More than 26 unemployed youth have committed suicide in the past five years and many more suffer from depression. If the government claim of 44 lakh jobs is true, then in Rajasthan today no youth would be unemployed”.
The other major area of controversy are claims and official figures of the number of people skilled under various training programmes and how many of them have actually been able to find gainful employment or are self-employed. An October tweet of Vasundhara Raje had said that the “Rajasthan Skill and Livelihood Development Corporation (the nodal agency to implement four schemes related to skill training by the centre and the state) has skilled 2.6 lakh youth, 15 lakh jobs were given during placement fairs and 2.35 lakh government jobs were filled.” But barely 15 days later, the figures rose to 44 lakh. A number very different from the reply on September 7 in the Rajasthan Assembly on jobs and self-employment created via the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana (DDU-GKY) and Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY).
On skill training, official figures say that from 2014-15 till September 2018-19, 1,99,469 persons were trained under the Employment Linked Skill Training Programme (ELSTP), 19,789 under the state’s Regular Skill Training Programme (RSTP) while 40,528 persons got trained under the Deendayal Upadhyaya rural skill scheme, which adds up to a total of 2,59,786 people getting trained. But under the much-publicised Prime Minister’s skill development scheme, it is claimed that 2,75,073 people received training, of whom 94,490 people found placement, according to the data available on the website of PMKVY.
The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has questioned all these figures in its report released in April 2018 saying only 37.45 per cent, or around 89,000 people, got jobs – a figure much lower than that claimed by Rajasthan Skills and Livelihood Development Corporation (RSLDC).
Also, the people who underwent the skill training programme have their own story to tell. Kanheyalal of Ramathla village in Tonk took a three-month training course for assistant electrician under the Prime Minister Skill Development Scheme and got a job in a company in Jaipur paying Rs 8000 per month for 12-13-hour-long work days. “The salary is not sufficient to live in the capital city,” said Kanhaiya. Rajesh Chauhan, from Kaharon Ka Jhopda village who also took training under the same programme asks, “What is the use of a job which can add the burden of a loan and is also not enough for the day-to-day expenses?”.
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