Image Credit: BBC

In India, a law graduate applied for a job as a driver last week.

Jitendra Maurya was one of over 10,000 unemployed young people who showed up for interviews in Madhya Pradesh, India’s central state, for 15 low-skilled government jobs. According to one account, many of them were overqualified candidates, including post-graduates, engineers, MBAs, and persons like Mr Maurya, who is studying for a judge’s exam.

The struggle of Mr Maurya calls attention to India’s chronic job scarcity. The pandemic wreaked havoc on Asia’s third-largest economy, which had already been on the slide for some time. Due to pent-up demand and increased government investment, it is currently on the mend. 

Career options, on the other hand, are diminishing. According to the Centre for Monitoring the Indian Economy (CMIE), an independent think tank, India’s unemployment rate increased to nearly 8% in December. In 2020 and for the majority of 2021, it was over 7%.

In most nations, unemployment increased in 2020. According to Prof. Basu, India’s performance outpaced that of most emerging countries, including Bangladesh (5.3%), Mexico (4.7%), and Vietnam (2.3%).

The number of people in the working-age population who are actively looking for jobs has decreased. The percentage of women in the workforce aged 15 and up is among the lowest in the world. However, unemployment primarily refers to educated young people looking for work in the formal economy, even though the informal economy employs 90% of the workforce and generates half of the country’s economic output.

Three-quarters of the workforce is self-employed and uninsured, with no access to social security.

Only about 2% of the workforce has stable formal jobs that include social security benefits such as a retirement savings plan, health care, and maternity benefits, as well as written contracts lasting more than three years. Only 9% have a formal job with access to at least one form of social security.

Mr Modi, who came to office in 2014 promising a slew of new jobs, is providing financial incentives to key industries and launching an ambitious “Make in India” push to promote domestic manufacturing. Due to low demand, none of this has yet resulted in a manufacturing (and job) boom.


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