In the final lap of poll campaigning ahead of the Delhi elections, youths at the protest site of Shaheen Bagh have come out with a unique initiative—aimed at urging the political parties, especially Bharatiya Janata Party—to talk about unemployment instead of banking on polarisation. Delhi’s educated but unemployed citizens are sticking their degrees to a big bill-board placed right outside the protest site of Shaheen Bagh to send out a powerful message, hoping that the political parties will take note.
Speaking to NewsClick, Deepanshu Sahu, who has created this ‘Unemployment Mirror of India’, said, “We want the government to see the extent of unemployment across Delhi and make the future of this country—which is the youth—an agenda. While unemployment is the highest in the past 45 years, the ruling party at the Centre is adopting a campaign that is polarising people, instead of focusing on governance. The BJP has mentioned Shaheen Bagh in their campaign time and again. They need to focus on the people. We want jobs, a secure future and wages, not a national register of citizens which discriminates.”
While a few degrees are already up on the board, the campaign will be taken across a number of varsity campuses as well to ensure that the issues including privatisation of education and access to opportunities assume centre stage.
Speaking to NewsClick, Shahrukh, who has a masters degree, said, “I finished my programme five years ago and I have been trying to get a job all this while. The job search process has taken a toll on me and now I am applying for any job. For example, the government had advertised vacancy for a non-technical position in the railways. While lakhs of people applied for the position, exams did not take place. There are many like me who are struggling, we are coming here to amplify our voices along with the ongoing movement against CAA and NRC.”
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Irfan, a student, said, “Our main motive is to tell the government to focus on the real issues that matter—like falling GDP and the condition of the Indian economy. The government is not telling us about the extent of the unemployment crisis and bearing the brunt of it are students like me who are not able to find jobs. While the BJP is trying its best to fight this election by polarisation and using Shaheen Bagh as a plank, we want to bring the attention back to the state of our economy.”
NewsClick had reported earlier, in just the past two years, unemployment rate has zoomed up from 2.2% in January 2018 to a staggering 11.2% in December 2019, according to latest CMIE estimates. Among people who have studied up to class 10-12, the unemployment rate is a shocking 23%, as per the latest CMIE estimate for September-December 2019. That means every one person in four is unemployed in this particular group. Even among graduates, the jobless rate is unconscionably high at nearly 17%.
Even more shocking is the unemployment rate among women who are willing to work and actively seeking jobs. It is at a high of 46%. That’s almost one in every two women.
Giving a wide berth to the issues of governance, basic amenities and welfare of the marginalised, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has turned all its cannons to one target—Shaheen Bag, the epicentre of Delhi’s anti CAA-NRC mobilisation. Inspired by Shaheen Bagh, the growing number of 24/7 sit-in protests seems to have piqued the Narendra Modi government so much that a contingent of ministers and BJP leaders are leaving no stone unturned to discredit the protesters. More recently, over the weekend, addressing a public rally in Badarpur near Shaheen Bagh on Sunday evening, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath accused his Delhi counterpart and AAP leader, Arvind Kejriwal, of trying to create anarchy by orchestrating protests like Shaheen Bagh. The BJP campaigner said the protest was actually against the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and the proposed construction Ram temple in Ayodhya. “Delhi should decide between a nationalist government and one of those who feed biryani to Shaheen Bagh protesters,” he said.
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