In Gujarat, Jobless Numbers Rising, but Unemployment Still Not a Poll Issue

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GANDHINAGAR – In the beginning of this month, some 17 lakh job aspirants applied for 3400 vacant posts of Talati (village panchayat executive head), indicating the unemployment crisis in Gujarat.

Yet, it is neither a political or election issue because the society is highly polarised and safety and security have put the core issues of governance on the backburner, observed political analysts and commentators.

According to the state’s Employment Exchange Department records there are four lakh unemployed people registered as on March 2021. Of them 3,85,506 are literate and just five percent are semi-skilled. If one goes by the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee job cards data, 30 lakh job cards have been issued, of which 15 lakh are active job card holders, said Hemant Shah, economist and political analyst.

Though unemployment is a core socio-economic issue, it is not a serious issue for society because society is highly influenced by issues like safety and security, according to Shah. Now this urban and middle class concern over safety and security has also percolated to the rural areas, added Shah.

Ideally unemployment, good governance, accountability should be political and election issues, but when the entire society is polarised on Hindu-Muslim lines, security takes the front seat and issues like unemployment take the back seat, analyzed Amit Dholakia, Head of the Political Science Department of the Maharaja Sayajirao University.

Both political analysts have observed that even youths who are complaining about unemployment, vote along religious lines in all elections. This has encouraged political parties to put good governance issues in cold storage and whip up religious sentiments before elections.

If unemployment was an issue in the state, the Gujarat youths too would have reacted similarly like the youths in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh to the announcement of the new military recruitment ‘Agnipath’ scheme, said Professor Baldev Agja, Dean of the Political Science Department of Vallabh Vidhyanagar University.

Over and above these issues the other major problem is poor civic awareness, the new generation is least concerned about their rights and the duties of the government, where protests and agitations are considered to be anti-development. Space for civil society is shrinking which is giving a free hand to political parties to spread misinformation and mislead society at large, concluded Dholakia. -IANS

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