A Saga of Unending Miseries

Eighteenyears ago when Jharkhand made a cleanbreak from Bihar, it was touted as the next big thing. It was expected that the state will propel itself to the top of the chart rather than languishing at the bottom. Those dreams are all but over. MAHENDRA KUMAR reports from Ranchi

Early this year, in January, the Jharkhand government organised something that it named as “Skill Summit”. Following its conclusion, the government had distributed “Appointment Letters” to as many as 27,000 unemployed youths who participated. The “Appointment Letters” were handed over personally by Chief Minister Raghubar Das. It later turned out that most of the jobs were either for the post of security guards or for lowly and menial private jobs. Not a single participant got the job that could justify his educational qualification. However, brownie points were earned.
But this is not enough. One look at the several government announcements in the last few years and one realises how deep the problem is. When Das came into the helm, he had promised to eradicate unemployment. He had announced that all the vacancies vis-à-vis teachers, policemen, Anganwadi workers, doctors and engineers would be filled up real soon. The process of recruitment started as well. However, most of them were immediately stopped amidst allegations of irregularity. While some vacant posts for teachers and policemen were filled up, most of the other vacancies remained unfilled.
And this is just about recruitments for Class Three and Four workers. The situation is no better when it comes to filling up vacant posts for Class One and Two jobs. The appointments through Jharkhand Public Service Commission have been painfully slow since its very inception. Primarily because this body got entangled in one controversy after another from the very beginning itself. Of the 15 stipulated exams for State Service Commission, the body has managed to conduct merely five. Even these five exams were not free from allegations of irregularity and nepotism. In fact, one of the chairmen of JPSC had to cool his heels behind the bars.
But this has not dampened the enthusiasm of the government one bit. It has come up with a slogan “Ho Rahe Hain Sapne Sakaar, Ye Hai Raghubar Sarkar”, which can at the best be called ironical. Considering it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep the dreams alive, leave alone getting them fulfilled, the slogan is nothing sort of a taunt. In one of the ceremonies celebrating the creation of the state, the chief minister had promised 50,000 vacancies soon. There is no news on that front.
This has not stopped the government in any way from celebrating “success”. The government has been tom-tomming that the growth rate has increased to 8.6 per cent during its tenure. This puts Jharkhand at the second spot following Gujarat. The per capita income has also increased to Rs 62,818 for the financial year 2015-16. What it does not say is that while the per capita is increasing, it will take at least 18 years for the state to match the national average. This has come out in government’s own economic survey.
In terms of unemployment, Jharkhand is second in the entire country. The unemployment rate is touching 27.4 percent. That’s second highest including all the Union Territories. This report is based on a widespread survey that was conducted by the central government across all the states and UTs. The report states that the unemployment rate in rural Jharkhand is around 24.5 per cent for males and 4.9 per cent for females, making a total of 29 per cent. The corresponding figures for the urban areas are 7.4 per cent and 4.7 percent respectively. The cumulative figure for rural and urban Jharkhand is 22.4 per cent for males and 42.2 percent for females. As many as 455 persons per 1,000 persons are employed in agriculture, horticulture and fisheries.
The situation at government-run employment exchanges is explosive. The number of those unemployed is increasing every year. In the last four years alone, the number has increased by 12 lakh. Although some youths do get jobs at government organised job fairs, but these numbers are way too small.

In the last four years alone, the number of pending applications at the government-run employment exchange has increased by 12 lakh

The worst part is the state government does not even compile the data on unemployment. However, there are several NGOs that do so. The numbers are mind-boggling. There were as many as 37 lakh unemployed in Jharkhand in the year 2013-14. The number shot up to 49.5 lakh by the year 2014-15 and 52.7 lakh by the end of next financial year. For the last year for which the data is still not available, the number has risen to 69 lakh. Never in the history of the state have had unemployment figures jumped such exponentially. This indicates that while there are little to no job creation, the retrenchment is high.
Sources say that there are enough vacant seats in the government departments across the state. They maintain that even if the government decides to fill-up seats just in the government sector, it will drastically reduce unemployment. As many as 26 per cent of the seats are vacant. But the government singularly failed to fill them up. This has led to a massive spike in migration. The number of those migrating to big cities across India has jumped by several folds.
One of the reasons behind the spiking unemployment is the lack of new industries in the state. This means that there is almost no new job creation in the industrial sector. The situation is particularly bad in the IT sector that has produced massive amounts of engineers with no opportunities to speak of. This means that the migration is happening in almost all the economic strata. The situation is so bad that even the neighbouring Bihar, which always languishes at the bottom of any meaningful list, has performed better than Jharkhand. The corresponding figure of those unemployed in Bihar stands at 17 per cent compared to 27.6 per cent in Jharkhand, according to the data released by National Sample Survey. Only Goa with the figure of 28.2 per cent is worse than Jharkhand.
Experts suggest that lack of quality education is one of the primary reasons. According to the same National Sample Survey report, as many as 43.9 per cent of Jharkhand populace has not completed even primary education. The corresponding figure in Bihar is even worse. Even Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and surprisingly, Andhra Pradesh are languishing in this area.
This means that youths have migrated massively to those states where lowly jobs are up for grab. The region around Giridih, Gadhwa, Palamu, Gumla, Sahibganj and Pakur are particularly affected. Often, they are treated very badly in other states, and end up living a miserable life.
According to the Census of India, there has been a massive increase in internal migration between 1991 and 2001. The flow is of course one-way with people migrating towards the metropolises. As many as 30 crore and 90 lakh people left their home for greener pastures in the other states, between 1991 and 2001. This makes for 30 per cent of the country’s population. By 2001, those migrating formed 37 per cent of the country’s population.
The data further suggests that the total net migration to Maharashtra is around 20 lakh. The corresponding figures for Haryana, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are 67 lakh, 68 lakh, 20 lakh and 10 lakh respectively.
The primary reason behind migration is lack of proper education. The absence of proper educational infrastructure in the villages means that most of those who even end up completing their studies, are worthless in the job market. They are left with no option but to migrate to bigger cities where they end up doing manual labour. But even those who are educated have seen the avenue shrink.
Then there is this issue of human trafficking. Teenage girls in and around Gumla, Lohardagga, Palamu, Gadhwa, West Singhbhum and Santhal Pargana are being trafficked in appalling numbers. Many of these girls end up in metropolises from where they never return. Police stations across Jharkhand are full to brim with such cases, but administration neither has the means nor the will to solve these cases. Whatever little work that is being done in this regard is being done by the NGOs. But this is not enough.
Experts believe that if MNREGA is implemented seriously in Jharkhand, it will have an immediate effect. However, the apathy shown by the state and central government towards this project is appalling. Unless such projects are implemented seriously, and newer avenues are brought, Jharkhand will remain the underdeveloped state that it is.

sources maintain that even if the government decides to fill-up seats just in the government sector, it will drastically reduce unemployment