Amid a jobs crisis, India’s government is sitting on over 400,000 vacancies

Endless queue.
Endless queue.
Image: AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh
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The unemployment crisis in India has been purportedly worsening as new job creation trickled to an eight-year low in 2016 under the Narendra Modi-led government. But while pushing private companies to invest in job creating industries, the government seems to have forgotten its share of the task at hand.

There are about 412,752 vacant posts as of March 2016 in various government departments, the Indian parliament was told on Feb. 07. That’s 11% of the around 3.6 million workforce of the various central government departments.

Replying to a question in the Rajya Sabha, Santosh Kumar Gangwar, junior minister for labour and employment said that directions have been issued to fill up these posts, though he didn’t specify a deadline.

At a time when there are an estimated 17 million people entering the workforce every year, and only about 5.5 million jobs being created, one would expect filling up existing vacancies to be the government’s priority. Recruitment to such posts is done via agencies such as the union public service commission and the staff selection commission.

Meanwhile, there were 44.9 million job-seekers registered with India’s employment exchanges as of September 2015, Gangwar informed parliament.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has predicted a worsening of the situation. The number of jobless people in India will increase to 18.6 million in 2018 and 18.9 million in 2019, compared to 18.3 million in 2017, as per the ILO’s latest report.

This is vastly different from Modi’s promise of 10 million new jobs if he was elected prime minister in 2014.

Now, even the government is beginning to see the enormity of the problem. In the economic survey released last month, chief economic advisor Arvind Subramaniam advocated labour reforms, increased spending on infrastructure, and creating a conducive environment to boost job creation.

But with the impending elections in 2019, Modi is running out of time.