Rozgar Mela: PM Modi’s drive comes as Oppn raises heat on jobs in poll-bound Gujarat, Himachal

On Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi kicked off a Rozgar Melawith 75,000 letters handed over across the country for various government jobs, at a time when unemployment remains a major problem and is expected in the elections for Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. Back in the two states, newbie only Aam Aadmi party (AAP) has included job promises in its opinion poll in Gujarat, while in Himachal it is one of the most important stories for all parties.

AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal first laid out the party’s detailed roadmap on the subject in Gujarat, starting from addressing the issue of paper leaks in competitive exams for government jobs, to making a pledge to provide 10 lakh jobs and to provide jobs to all young people in the state in five years, at a public address in Bhavnagar in August this year. He also promised temporary unemployment benefits for young people who did not get a job.

Besides, Kejriwal announced a policy to reserve 80 percent for private jobs for Gujarat domicile.

Listing nearly two dozen paper leaks in government recruitment exams in Gujarat over the past five years, Kejriwal said in his Bhavnagar address, “I assure you that in December (2022), AAP will form the government, and in February (2023), the talati recruitment exam will be conducted, the results will be announced in April (2023), and successful candidates will be posted the same month.”

Kejriwal gave further details on the one-year “recruitment calendar” and said TET 1 and 2 and TAT exams will be conducted in May 2023, with results in July. Teachers get the chance to choose their favorite broadcasting district.

Vacant teaching posts will be filled by August 2023, Kejriwal said, with recruitment for sub-inspectors and assistant sub-inspectors to begin in November and their vacancies to be completed by December 2023.

“For each (category of recruitment) we will release a waiting list that is valid for one year so that there are no vacancies. Bus commute back and forth on the day of the exams is made free for those who appear in (government recruitment) exams. In private jobs, 80 percent will have to be given to the youth of Gujarat… a law to that effect will be introduced,” Kejriwal added.

According to the quarterly bulletin of the Periodic Labor Force Survey (PLFS), while Gujarat had one of the lowest unemployment rates in urban areas, Himachal had one of the highest.

Gujarat Congress counts on past promises

Gujarat Congress has not made any job promises so far, although in September, Rahul Gandhiwhile addressing the convention booth staff in Ahmedabad during a ‘Parivartan Sankalp’ meeting, made a slew of promises, including 10 lakh jobs for the state. He stated that employment cannot be provided by “few multimillionaire companies”, and that small and medium-sized enterprises are the backbone of job creation, he had said: “We will fully focus on ensuring employment for Gujarat youth, and will give employment to 10 lakh youths.”

In its 2017 manifesto, Congress had announced a monthly unemployment benefit of Rs 3,000-4,000 depending on educational qualifications. In the elections, the BJP won 99 of the 182 seats – the lowest return since 1995, while the Congress won 77 seats, of which two went to the Bharatiya Tribal Party, one to the NCP and the rest to independents.

This year’s assembly elections will be triangular, with AAP expected to contest all 182 seats. AIMIM also plans to fight on some 45 seats.

CMIE’s monthly time series data show that between January 2018 and September 2022, the highest unemployment rate was in April 2020 (18.7 percent). In September 2022 this was 1.6 percent.

The hills are alive with screams for jobs

Meanwhile, the ruling BJP in Himachal wants state voters to believe that there will be enough jobs after the ‘twin-engine’ development. But the opposition is not impressed.

According to the government’s labor figures, up to March this year, there were 8 lakh youths who had registered themselves as unemployed. Several of them were university graduates with degrees in both technical and non-technical fields.

According to the Periodic Labor Force Survey, the unemployment rate in Himachal Pradesh ranged from 8.6 percent in July-September 2020 to 7.8 percent in January-March 2021. But between July and September 2021, it rose sharply to 12.4 percent.

Because horticulture is the economic backbone of the state, a majority of the workforce is involved in the trade, storage, and transportation of apples. Another important form of employment is the service sector, as the state derives much of its income from tourism.

Between January and December 2021, 56 lakh tourists, both Indian and foreign, visited the state, nearly 75 percent more than the 2020 season marred by Covid.

Between January and December 2021, 56 lakh tourists, both Indian and foreign, visited the state, nearly 75 percent more than the 2020 season marred by Covid.

Jobs, allowances and start-up capital for new entrepreneurs

Himachal Chief Minister Jairam Thakur has repeatedly pointed to the appointments to official posts made by his government. He has also highlighted schemes such as Mukhyamantri Swavalamban Yojana, where new entrepreneurs are said to receive a 35 percent subsidy.

While it has solicited suggestions and feedback from people, the BJP has yet to release a manifesto highlighting their employment and job creation policies.

However, the Congress has already promised that it will set aside Rs 680 crore to promote start-ups in the state. Citizens with a start-up proposal will be given an interest-free Rs 10 crore corpus as starting money. This will encourage people to set up new businesses, the party says.

Ahead of the polls, Congress has pledged 5 lakh jobs in an effort to support youth. A Rozgar Sangharsh Yatra was taken by party leaders to keep the unemployment issue alive.

While AAP is struggling in the state, it has also made employment promises. In keeping with the promises of the other parties, AAP has also projected six lakh jobs for the state’s youth, with an interim compensation of Rs 3,000 until a seeker gets a job, party officials said earlier.

All eyes are now on BJP’s Sankalp Patra, probably next week.

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