“On the road to Canada”: the employment crisis in India exasperates its youth | Top news

By Krishna N. Das and Aftab Ahmed

RAJPURA, India (Reuters) – Srijan Upadhyay supplied fried snacks to small restaurants and roadside stalls in India’s impoverished eastern state of Bihar before COVID-19 lockdowns forced most of his customers to close, many without paying what they owed him.

With his business crippled, the 31-year-old computer science undergraduate traveled to the city of Rajpura in Punjab state this month to meet consultants who promised him a work visa for Canada. He brought his neighbor who also wants a Canadian visa because his business degree didn’t help him find a job.

“There are not enough jobs for us here, and whenever government vacancies come up, we hear about cheating, leaking of test papers,” Upadhyay said, waiting in the living room of Blue Line Consultants. “I’m sure we’ll get a job in Canada, whatever it is initially.”

India’s unemployment rate is estimated to have exceeded the global rate in five of the past six years, according to data from the Center for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) and the International Labor Organization, due to a slowdown economy exacerbated by the pandemic.

After peaking at 23.5% in April 2020, India’s unemployment rate fell to 7.9% last month, according to the CMIE.

The rate in Canada fell to a multi-month low of 5.9% in December, while the OECD group of mainly wealthy countries reported a sixth consecutive month of decline in October, countries like the United States States suffering from labor shortages as economic activity picks up. .

Chart: Unemployment rate – https://graphics.reuters.com/INDIA-UNEMPLOYMENT/INDIA/zjvqknbzxvx/chart.png

Worse still for India, its economic growth is producing fewer jobs than before, and as discouraged job seekers instead take on menial roles or seek to move overseas, labor market participation rates The country’s already low – people aged 15 and over who are working or looking for it – falls.

“The situation is worse than what the unemployment rate shows,” CMIE chief executive Mahesh Vyas told Reuters. “The unemployment rate only measures the proportion of those who do not find a job among those who are actively looking for a job. The problem is that the proportion who are themselves looking for a job is falling.”

Chart: Labor Participation Rate (LPR) – https://graphics.Reuters.com/INDIA-UNEMPLOYMENT/INDIA-UNEMPLOYMENT/jnvwejnnlvw/chart.png

Critics say such desperation among India’s youth is one of the biggest failures of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who came to power in 2014 on his unfulfilled promise to create millions of jobs.

It also risks India losing its demographic advantage of having more than two-thirds of its 1.35 billion people of working age https://data.oecd.org/pop/working-age-population.htm.

The labor and finance ministries did not respond to requests for comment. The Department of Labor’s careers website had more than 13 million active job seekers last month, with just 220,000 vacancies.

The department told parliament in December that “job creation coupled with improving employability is the government’s priority”, underlining its focus on small businesses.

Modi’s rivals are now trying to capitalize on the crisis ahead of elections in five states, including Punjab and the most populous Uttar Pradesh, in February and March.

“Due to the lack of job opportunities here, every child looks to Canada. Parents are hoping to send their children to Canada one way or another,” said Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, whose Aam Admi party is leading the Punjab elections recently. operate there.

“I assure you that within five years they will start to come back because we will create so many opportunities for them here.”

He did not explain, but party workers said their policies would attract job-creating businesses.

Punjab’s neighbor Haryana, home to the local offices of many global IT companies and an automotive hub, has already ordered most jobs there to be restricted to locals. A political party in Punjab promised something similar if elected to power.

“To some extent, if a particular sector is doing well, arrangements can be made to ensure that local youth get opportunities,” said Amit Basole, director of the Center for Sustainable Employment at Azim Premji University in Bengaluru.

“But if overall job creation is weak, then such policies don’t solve the underlying problem. And they can also make matters worse by reducing investment.”

CMIE’s Vyas said India needs more investment in labor-intensive industries and should bring more women into the workforce, as Bangladesh has done through its factories. of making.

Between 2018 and 2021, India experienced its longest period of slowdown since 1991, with an average unemployment rate of 7.2%, according to CMIE data. Global unemployment averaged around 5.7% during this period.

The shortage of jobs is particularly problematic for a country like India where each year 12 million people reach working age. The economy hasn’t grown fast enough to absorb that many people, economists say.

In addition, the increase in the labor force for each percentage increase in gross domestic product has decreased: the economy will have to grow by 10% to increase employment by 1%, said Basole of the University. Azim Premji.

In the 1970s and 1980s, when GDP growth was 3% to 4%, employment grew by about 2%, Basole found.

Back in Punjab, Blue Line adviser Lovepreet said business was booming, with his agency handling some 40 clients a day.

“I’ve been doing this for four years,” said the 27-year-old, who gave only one name. “I’m going to Canada myself, this year or next year. Politicians keep promising us government jobs, but no one is keeping the promise.”

Unemployment rate https://tmsnrt.rs/3KBgLNn

Labor Participation Rate (LPR) https://tmsnrt.rs/3KyAVYt

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(Reporting by Krishna N. Das and Aftab Ahmed; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)

Copyright 2022 Thomson Reuters.


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