Top Headlines

food for thought

Unemployment has been such a chronic problem in Assam for decades that it does not even figure prominently in the political discourse of the State. Parties make promises, but their approaches to the problem remain piecemeal. Parties in power in the State have never tackled it head on with the seriousness it demands, which in turn has driven jobless youths to join the ranks of militants. The Employment-Unemployment survey in 2015-16 carried out by the Government of India ranked Assam worst with the highest unemployment rate of 178 per 1,000 of population. More specifically, unemployment is worse in rural areas with the figure standing at 199, corresponding to 163 in urban areas. It is sad, and totally ucceptable, that State government efforts to create jobs have been marked by corruption. In the ongoing assembly session, it has come out that the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) found serious anomalies in the Employment Generation Mission of 2007. In a 3-year period till March 2010, the Central government released Rs 50 crore, but Dispur could not even spend half that amount and the rest had to be returned to the Centre. When the then Congress government filly submitted utilization government certificate (UC) for the amount spent, the CAG found that a part of it was fictitious. The present ruling dispensation has ordered two probes to get to the bottom of this matter, but it goes to show that even funds allocated to help create jobs were misappropriated. Is it any wonder that unemployed youths have to fend on their own, migrating far away in search of a living, with no support at all from employment exchanges and the State Labour department? The State government is now focusing on skilling youths to help them land jobs, but this will require close coordition with employers and training institutes. And since labour is vulnerable here because of high unemployment, the government also needs to have an appropriate mechanism to ensure that workers are not exploited with poor wages and work conditions.