Meet Bharat Singh, a 35-year-old resident of Karsindhu village in Haryana’s Jind district who is one among the over 52,000 educated, unemployed youths who have registered with the government’s employment offices in the district, the highest in the state.
Bharat’s story begins with the hope of securing a bank loan for a shop in 2022. On the advice of a fellow villager, he put his income in the application documents. Unfortunately, the loan didn’t materialise, and a cruel twist of fate severed his lifeline—the monthly food grain supply under a government scheme meant for impoverished families as his income stood hiked in the documents more than of the stipulated limit for the benefit.
The root of this problem extends beyond Bharat’s misadventure. He holds a diploma in Ayurvedic pharmacy, but job opportunities in his field have been as elusive for years. In the latest round of vacancies, he couldn’t meet the Common Eligibility Test (CET) conditions because he could not clear this newly introduced exam amid his growing age. Presently, he earns a meager Rs 6,000 per month working at an Ayurvedic shop after a stint at a ‘gaushala.’ His family of four — a wife and three kids — is depended on that income for sustenance.
In the last 14 years, Bharat has tried his hands at everything — from applying for openings for police constables to that of government bus conductors, besides looking for openings in Ayurvedic pharmacies. However, fate failed to be kind to him ever since he finished his graduation through correspondence.
Bharat’s experience reflects a harsh reality; government jobs are a rarity in this region. In Karsindhu, a village with a population of 12,000 people, as per estimates, one in every two youths are looking for government jobs. In simpler terms, there are 2000 youths in the village, around 1,000 of whom are seeking government jobs. However, only around 250 individuals are employed in government roles, primarily in the Army, BSF, and CRPF. Even the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) offers only limited number of labour opportunities. The scarcity of jobs has led to a growing sense of despair among the youth, especially those from marginalised backgrounds. Bharat raised a pertinent question: “What is the use of education? An illiterate labourer can at least earn Rs 400 per day without wasting so many years.”
Financial struggles are just the tip of the iceberg.
Those without assets, like land or family support, suffer the most. Even those with modest land holdings are selling their ancestral land to seek better opportunities abroad, sometimes falling victim to unscrupulous travel agents. Raj Kumar, a fellow villager, echoes Bharat’s sentiments. He bemoans the fate of his two sons, Azad (28), a graduate, and Vinod (33), who completed Class 12. Both have attempted nearly 20 exams without success, encapsulating the frustration shared by many.
Ram Niwas, 33, holds a computer diploma and joined the farmers’ protest against the contentious farm laws in 2020-21. Frustrated by the lack of government job prospects, he now plans to pursue a law degree (LLB) to support farmers legally and make a living.
The neighbouring Chhattar village faces a similar crisis. The allure of military careers has faded since the introduction of the Agniveer scheme in 2022. Jogender Mor, a former kabaddi player, observes, “Since the introduction of the Agniveer scheme in the Army, only 25% of the previous numbers now visit the playgrounds. Earlier nearly 1,000 youths visited the playgrounds to exercise or stay fit. The youths have started losing hope in government jobs, prompting them to consider moving abroad. Nearly 50 people from our village have already done so.”
Ajay Mor, who has an MA in English, plans to leave for Canada, disillusioned by cancelled recruitment drives and alleged question paper leaks.
Baljeet Singh, a 31-year old graduate from Chhatar, underscores the bleakness of the situation, with a significant portion of government department jobs filled through contractual positions. Over two lakh permanent positions in state government departments remain vacant, leaving essential services like healthcare compromised.
Sahil Mor, a young (22) resident of the village, lamented, “The desperation for jobs is so intense that around 200 youths from our village, Chhattar, traveled to Jaipur in August this year for an examination for a junior post as mere ‘Messengers.’ Shockingly, there were only five positions available for general category applicants in that exam.” The young hopefuls also recollect an incident during an Army recruitment drive in Jammu and Kashmir when an Army Officer was surprised by the nearly 65 candidates from this village, Chhattar, and asked if it was a district in Haryana. They also shared a tale of hastily booked flight tickets to Ladakh for an Army recruitment drive, only for it to be canceled later.
Azad Singh Palwa, a local farmer leader, sheds light on the repercussions, stating, “Not only is the skilled workforce underutilised, but it also leads to personal disappointments, such as a significant number of youths failing to receive marriage proposals. Parents tend to prefer a government-employed youth over those owning ten acres of land.” In Chhattar, as per estimates of villagers, nearly 1,000 males have surpassed the marriageable age but remain without marriage proposals. Sociologically, this is attributed to the skewed sex ratio in the state, leaving many youths unmarried.
Palwa says the agricultural crisis has also taken a toll on industries, leading to the closure of several tractor agencies in the region due to a lack of buyers.
Chhattar, with a population of nearly 15,000 residents, holds the distinction of being the largest village in Jind district. During the 2019 assembly polls, the villagers supported Dushyant Chautala of JJP, now the deputy chief minister in the BJP-JJP alliance government.
Dushyant Chautala triumphed over Prem Lata, the wife of former Union minister, Chaudhary Birender Singh (BJP).
Expressing frustration with politicians, Baljeet Singh, reveals, “We’re tired of politicians who have failed to create job opportunities for our youths. We’ve now embarked on a mission to establish a library in our village, with a budget of Rs 25 lakh. We’ve already collected Rs 12 lakh for this project. The idea is to ensure that our village’s youth don’t have to travel to Delhi for competitive exam preparations. Currently, 50 youths from our village reside in Mukherjee Nagar, New Delhi, just for preparing for competitive exams.”
He adds, “Given the limited private sector and industrial employment options, government jobs will undoubtedly be a significant issue in the 2024 Assembly elections.” Meanwhile, in village Chhattar’s playground, children and young adults continue to practice and participate in local kabaddi tournaments. In Karsindhu village’s Kabir temple, school-going students diligently come to study, despite the lack of facilities such as proper lighting.
Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar has repeatedly emphasised the government’s focus on merit-based employment rather than favoritism and bribery.
In a recent state assembly session, he claimed that numerous steps had been taken to provide jobs for the youth. He cited that 4,595 jobs were secured through the Haryana Public Service Commission (HPSC) between April 1, 2015, to date . Additionally, from 2014-15 to March 9, 2023, at least 97,751 jobs were offered through the Haryana Staff Selection Commission (HSSC).
The Chief Minister also referenced the Quarterly Bulletin (January-March 2023) of the Periodic Labour Force Survey, conducted by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI), which reported Haryana’s unemployment rate at 8.8 percent.
He provided data from state employment exchanges as of July 31, 2023, revealing 1,03,265 registered graduates, 29,988 postgraduates, and 21,569 professional degree holders actively seeking employment. According to the Chief Minister, an average of approximately 1.69 lakh youth have registered with various employment exchanges in the state every year, for the past eight years.
While Dushyant Chautala could not be contacted, JJP spokesperson Deepkamal Saharan said: “It is true that Jind district has been deprived of employment opportunities in the past despite big political figures getting elected from here previously as they didn’t prioritise skill development and job creating environment in this area. However, as an outcome of the current BJP-JJP government’s initiative during recent years, Jind is now claiming it’s share in employment opportunities.”
Saharan added, the BJP-JJP government in August this year advertised two commercial sectors for industries in neighbouring Khatkar village spread across 740 acres. “Once developed, this industrial area will boost small and mid size industries in the region. Skill development centre being run by Honda at Uchana industrial training institute (ITI) was among the first initiatives taken by Dushyant Chautala after he got elected from here.”
According to Saharan, classes started taking place in a girls college in Chhatar village two years ago and another government college is being mulled for another part of the constituency. “We have approached automobile giants for a driver training institute in Uchana. For developing aptitude for competitive exams among rural youth, digital libraries have been set up in 20 villages in the past four years. A multi-facility medical college is near completion in Jind which will also cater to demand for medical courses. A full-fledged fire safety training institute is also coming up in Uchana which will be first of it’s kind in north India and second after Nagpur in India.”
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