Patna: The new National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government led by Nitish Kumar has disappointed thousands of youths who seek government jobs. It has made it clear that it will persist with its policy of providing contractual jobs.
In its first order since its formation earlier this week, the government issued a letter which detailed the procedure to begin appointments on contract basis, once again.
The General Administration Department of the Bihar government issued a letter dated November 17, 2020, to all department heads. It asked them to submit a list of posts that have been vacant since 2007 and directed that they be filled on contract basis. The letter asked them to submit the information on priority to ensure the completion of appointments.
The letter also asked all department heads to furnish details of vacant posts that were not filled on contractual basis, further asking how many people from each department were on contract.
At present, more than four lakh permanent government posts in different departments have been lying vacant for years in the state.
More than four lakh contractual teachers in government-run schools, thousands of health officials and workers on contract, and thousands of others on contractual jobs in rural development departments and other government departments have been demanding equal pay for equal work at par with permanent staffers. Bihar has witnessed repeated protests and strikes by contractual officials over the last year.
In its manifesto released in response to the RJD, the ruling BJP, an ally of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s JD(U), had promised to provide 19 lakh jobs in the next five years. RJD leader Tejashawi Yadav, who was the chief ministerial candidate of the Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance), promised 10 lakh government jobs to the youth of Bihar if they were elected to power.
However, CM Nitish Kumar was silent on the jobs front during his election campaign, repeatedly attacking Tejashwi over his promise to provide one million government jobs.
With the state government fairly up-front about its policy to provide jobs on a contractual basis, youths are unhappy.“We have no hope of a government job from this ‘double-engine’ government,” said Sanjay Kumar, a graduate in physics. He works as a security guard at an SBI ATM in Patna’s Mithapur locality.
Sanjay said that he, like thousands of youths, supported and voted for the Tejashwi-led Grand Alliance as the parties had promised government jobs. However, the alliance did not come to power despite a good show in the polls.
He recalled that several youths from his village of Fatehpur, which falls in Gaya district, had filled up forms for different government jobs years ago, and are still waiting for a written examination.
Mukesh Kumar, another youth, who works at a medicine shop in Phulwari Sharif, was not hopeful either. “BJP’s promise of 19 lakh jobs was a mere jumla. We all remember how Prime Minister Narendra Modi forgot his promise to provide two crore jobs annually during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls,” he said.
According to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy’s estimates, for the past 20 months – since February 2019 – the unemployment rate in Bihar has been more than 10%. It is one of the longest cycles of unemployment that the state has ever seen.
According to official figures, around 21 lakh migrant workers returned to Bihar during April and May after an ill-conceived and mismanaged lockdown was imposed to contain COVID-19.
Most of the migrant workers lost their jobs and even their wages due to the sudden announcement. Many walked back home, traversing as much as 1,500 kilometers. Scores of workers reportedly died during the return journey due to a lack of food and water, or out of sheer exhaustion.
It is a fact that “rozgar” (employment) was the hot topic during the Bihar polls. The Grand Alliance’s campaign over jobs and the unemployment situation in the state resonated with voters. The crowds seen at Tejashwi’s rallies were largely put down to this reason.