CON JOB

India's numerous jobs scams show the depth of its unemployment crisis

A racket has duped up to 50,000 people of millions of rupees across five Indian states
India's numerous jobs scams show the depth of its unemployment crisis
Photo: ANUSHREE FADNAVIS (Reuters)
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Indians looking to escape the country’s chronic unemployment rut frequently fall prey to rackets. One such ring has reportedly conned at least 50,000 people since 2020, making it one of India’s biggest job frauds in recent times.

The success of such criminal syndicates is an indication of how bad the conditions are for job seekers in one of the world’s fastest-growing economies that is simply unable to generate enough employment opportunities.

Job rackets lure the gullible

India’s latest organised job scam episode has affected people in the Indian states of Gujarat, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, and Odisha. They were duped of crores of rupees after being promised jobs, reports said.

“The scam was being run by a group of tech-savvy engineers from Uttar Pradesh with the help of some expert website developers. This core group was assisted by around 50 call center employees. These employees were paid 15,000 rupees ($181) per month and were from Jamalpur and Aligarh localities of Uttar Pradesh,” according to Jai Narayan Pankaj, a senior Odisha police officer.

Candidates paid up to Rs70,000 for training and other orientation programmes, including Rs3,000 in registration fees. However, the training never happened, Pankaj said.

In another incident unearthed in December, around 30 people were tricked into counting the arrival and departure of trains at the New Delhi Railway Station for a month, BBC reported. They were told this was part of their training for the positions of travel ticket examiner, traffic assistant, and clerk. Each of the duped candidates had paid up between Rs2 lakh and Rs24 lakh for the coveted Indian Railways job.

Scammers are not limited to operating within India’s borders either. Some work through agents even in Dubai and Bangkok. Aspirants are sometimes persuaded to move to countries like Thailand. Many are taken illegally to Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia where they are held captive and forced into cybercrime.

India is just not creating enough jobs

In September and October, India added over 8.5 million jobs in the formal sector. However, that was not enough, considering the number of applicants, along with fresh graduates, exceeded the number of available jobs.

In December, India’s unemployment rate rose to 8.3%, the highest in 16 months, data from the Mumbai-based Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) showed.

Worsening this is the global inflationary pressure and fears of an impending recession, sparking layoffs in recent months. This is besides the enduring effects of the pandemic years. 

“One of the alarming possibilities for India...is the fact that our additions to the labour workforce are likely to slow down as it happened in China or in Europe and other developed economies,” TeamLease Services co-founder Rituparna Chakraborty told The Indian Express newspaper.

A study by CMIE and the Centre of Economic Data and Analysis of Ashoka University showed that over 12.5 million people aged 15-29 years not only lost jobs in 2020 but also stopped looking for new ones.

The number of farm jobs, meanwhile, increased during this time but that only underscored the economy’s weakness, the study found.