Why a tribal-dominated Indian state has the country’s lowest jobless rate

Why a tribal-dominated Indian state has the country’s lowest jobless rate
Image: REUTERS/Altaf Hussain
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Chhattisgarh, an Indian state located in the east-central region, has the country’s lowest unemployment rate.

It is estimated to have a population of 32.19 million, according to government data, of which tribals such as Gond, Kanwar, and Uraon constitute 30.6%.

Over the past few years, the state government has launched several job schemes for its youth. This is in line with the central government’s Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), according to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), an independent think tank.

These schemes seem to have helped bring down Chhattisgarh’s unemployment rate to 0.6% by March this year, even as India‘s overall unemployment rate stood at 7.8%.

“Under the overarching objective of uplifting economy, economy, the state government has created new employment opportunities through the implementation of programmes such as Godhan Nyay Yojana, the constitution of Tea-Coffee Board, equal status of fisheries and production of agriculture, Millet Mission and commercial plantation,” Sanjeev Prashar, senior faculty at Indian Institute of Management, Raipur, wrote in The Times of India newspaper last month.

On the other hand, Haryana topped the chart at 26.7%, followed by Rajasthan (25%), Jammu and Kashmir (25%), and Jharkhand (14.5%).

India’s overall national unemployment rate had shot up sharply during the first wave of the covid-19 pandemic in 2020, hobbled by lockdowns and curtailed economic activity.

It was more acute in urban areas (8.6% in March) than in rural (7.3%). This was likely due to a lack of employment opportunities, employers’ hesitation to hire more, and an increased risk aversion among workers in crowded areas, experts say.

Besides, there are no MNREGA-like schemes for urban workers in India.