Ruchika M Khanna
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, December 13
A woman’s self immolation bid outside the Punjab Chief Minister’s residence yesterday has brought to the fore widespread unemployment in the state, especially among the educated youth.
And to top it all, there is no official data available about the exact percentage of unemployment in the state and all 40 employment exchanges have become redundant. According to the government website, 4,08,356 people were unemployed and 762 were given jobs as on March 31, 2009.
Though the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) data of 2012 says the unemployment rate in Punjab has come down to 1.8 per cent (against the national average of 3.8 per cent), economists debunk the claim saying that rising unemployment among educated youth is worrisome.
Sucha Singh Gill, Director, Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development, who has written many papers on unemployment in Punjab, says that after 1998-99 the state has not made an inventory of educated unemployed. “Nobody gets registered at the employment exchanges any more. In fact, in most departments, once a person retires, his post is not filled but frozen,” he said.
With the major portion of the state government’s cash reserves being used to pay wages, hardly any fresh recruitment has been initiated in the government sector. There are 3.5 lakh BEd and ETT qualified unemployed teachers in the state, who have been protesting against the government for failing to recruit them. The government said as per the new guidelines it could recruit only those teachers who have cleared the Teachers’ Eligibility Test (TET), which 21,000 have reportedly cleared. But only 3,900 have been appointed. Similarly, thousands of posts are lying vacant in the health and various government departments.
In colleges (government as well as government aided), the regular posts of lecturers have not been filled since 1996.
KJS Cheema, Director, Employment Generation and Training, told The Tribune that his department was compiling a list of unemployed people in Punjab. “This time, we are segregating the unemployed on the basis of their educational qualification,” he said, adding that the state government was committed to develop skills and provide jobs to the youth.
Gurpreet Kaur’s attempt to set herself ablaze has taken political overtones with the leaders of the Opposition Congress flocking to the general hospital to offer help.
State Congress president Partap Singh Bajwa and former Congress MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira today visited her. Former CM Capt Amarinder Singh said Punjab, under the Congress, had received Rs 1,30,000 crore investment, enough to boost the economy and generate large-scale employment in the private sector. “But the Akali-BJP government scrapped these investment proposals and the future of youth,” he said.
In its election manifesto, the SAD had promised to employ 5 lakh people in government departments and another 1 lakh in the IT sector. The IT sector, so far, has failed to be the sunrise sector for employment generation and the state government, burdened with its committed liabilities, has failed to offer jobs.
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