Past perfect, future tense: Stuck in dead end jobs

- March 27, 2023
| By : Muhammad Tahir |

 Rising unemployment has forced many people to give up dreams and opt for odd jobs to sustain themselves

GOING DOWN: Manisha Meena, who runs a kachori stall with her husband, has seen her revenues dip over the years

Twenty-seven-year-old Mohammad Sameer finally decided to return to his hometown Motihari in Bihar after failing to get a job in Delhi despite several attempts.
“Without a job I can’t survive in Delhi, so I came back and am continuously searching for a job in Delhi from here. Only yesterday, I gave an online interview in a company,” Sameer, who graduated in commerce in 2019 from Indraprastha University, Delhi, told Patriot.
Sameer’s struggles aren’t unusual in these times. The latest Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) report proves that the employment situation is not good in the country.
According to the report, unemployment rate in India inched to 7.45% in February 2023 from 7.14% in January 2023, taking the total number of unemployed in the country to 33 million compared from 31.5 million in January.
“I worked around eight months in ‘Make My Trip’ in 2019, and around a year in ‘Airtel’ after Covid. During my job at Airtel, I went home for a family matter. When I returned, the company refused to keep me in the job because I had overstayed my leave,” said Sameer.

Belonging to a lower middle-class family, Sameer is currently pursuing MA in public administration from Jamia Millia Islamia. Before going back to Bihar, he sold tea from a thermos flask to survive and pay his college fees for around two months outside Jamia old library gate with a sales slogan ek chai ho jaaye (let’s have a cup of tea).
“When the company refused to continue with me, it was difficult to survive and pay my college fees, so I started selling tea at night in January. It helped me a little, bas kharcha nikal raha tha (I was just getting by). I earned around Rs 300 per day, but this was not enough for survival. It affected my studies also.”
Despite this, Sameer didn’t give up and was hopeful of getting a job.
“The employment situation is not good in the country. After Covid, it has gotten worse. But I am trying, Inshallah kahi na kahi ho jaega (God willing, I will get employed somewhere),” he said with hope.
Sameer isn’t the only one struggling.
After four years of hard work and struggle, Laxmi Pant has given up her dream of a government job.

DREAMS SHATTERED: Laxmi Pant has given up her dreams of a government job and is now selling momos

“I prepared for Staff Selection Commission (SSC) and banking for four years but could not get a job. It hurt me a lot. I fell into depression and was frustrated. I had worked hard for a government job and when you do something with passion, enthusiasm and full effort but don’t get it, it hurts. Even my parents used to advise me not to study so much, else I will go mad. My only motive was to get a government job. I wanted to join the police service to serve people. Lekin mere sapne choor-choor ho gaye (But my dreams are shattered).”
She further added, “I think unemployment is the biggest problem in the country. The government needs to do a lot of work in the education sector. Even my brother, who has done double MA and B.Ed., couldn’t get a good job. He has cleared the Central Teacher Eligibility Test (CTET) exam too. But he is working in an election office on temporary basis. There are no jobs here, so a lot of youth are going abroad.”
Laxmi, a post-graduate from IGNOU, is currently selling fast food on a cart (thela) in GTB Nagar. She lives in Sonia Vihar with her husband and two children in a rented house. Her husband, who runs another small business, often helps her.
“When I didn’t get a government job, I joined a private company where I faced many issues and finally resigned from there and decided to sell momos. My father tells me that this work does not match our status. I am doing it under compulsion. Mera sapna to kuchh aur hi tha (I had dreamt of something else),” she concluded.

EXPERT SPEAKS: Professor Arun Kumar says that agriculture and small and medium industries should be promoted

Imran Mansoori’s story is similar. He graduated from Satyawati College, Delhi University in 2018 and is still searching for a job.
He told Patriot, “I have tried for a job many times, but when I could not get one, I started working with my father in his bakery. Once in 2022, when I went for an interview in SBI (State Bank of India), Patel Nagar, I was humiliated. The interviewer started to humiliate me over the 2020 North-East Delhi riots even before the interview began. He alleged, ‘ye dange tumne karaye the (these riots were done by you). Initially, I did not react but when he repeated again and again, I resisted and left the interview.”
Imran lives in Mustafabad, where the February 2020 riots happened.
He further said, “After that, I did not go to any interview and started to work with my father. I had tried for a government job and then private but after the SBI incident, I left searching for about a year. Now, I have told people in my circle to notify me about job opportunities.”
Nisha Malik, the eldest among six sisters, started working in a private company last month but is uncertain about her salary and even job, because the company has suffered losses.
She completed BA programming from University of Delhi in 2022 and has also acquired some other skills and degrees.

“Besides graduation, I have also done computer courses. I have sent my resume to many places but I couldn’t get a job commensurate with my skills. Job crisis is big in India. Currently, many young people have a high degree but they are unemployed,” she told Patriot.

Nisha, a resident of Shiv Vihar area of North-East Delhi, belongs to a marginalised family with no proper income and is living in a rented house.
“We have been living on rent since childhood. Our house is in a very vulnerable condition. My father is not physically fit. So, I have been giving tuition since schooldays. I am searching for a new job because the company I have been working in has suffered losses for the past two months and will relieve us after this month,” she concluded.
About the unemployment situation in the country, a graduate student of IGNOU, who lives in Narela and is preparing for UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) said on condition of anonymity, “Unemployment levels are continuously rising. The government should be concerned about it. Also, the citizens are not aware of the gravity of the situation.”
Manisha Meena, 45, has been selling kachori with her husband Latoor Chand Meena outside the Vishwavidyalaya Metro Station for over a decade now.
“Earlier, our daily sale was around Rs 5,000, but it has been badly affected after the pandemic. We used to be very busy prior to Covid at around 3 pm. But now you can see. Students do not want to spend more money nowadays. So, our income has decreased.”
According to a survey by consultancy firm KPMG, “Consumers in India are cautious about spending in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic with 78% of respondents claiming to reduce discretionary spending.”
Manisha hails from Rajasthan’s Sawai Madhopur district but came to Delhi for her children’s education and livelihood.
Earlier, his husband worked on a printing press among other odd jobs. But after losses and udhaari (small loans), he started working here. Her children are unemployed despite being educated.

“My daughter has done M.Sc. in mathematics from Delhi University’s Miranda House college in 2018 but is still unemployed. She is preparing for SSC and other government jobs. We thought that they would get a good job after education but they did not,” she told Patriot.
Her son Shivam also graduated from Delhi University’s Shivaji College and after working in a private company, is looking for better opportunities.
“There is no good job. Can a family survive on Rs 20,000 in Delhi? Even the price of cylinder has touched Rs 1,200. Padh likh kar sab bekar (All the investment on education has gone waste),” Latoor Chand said in disappointment.
To understand the matter of unemployment, Patriot talked to eminent economist Arun Kumar.
“Actually, the government or agency does not reveal the correct data. Our growth rate is not 7% but -1%. This data does not include unorganised sector, only organised sector. Our data is also incorrect. Under-employment is very high in the country. According to government’s definition, if you do even ‘one hour’ of work in a week, you count as employed. As many as 19 crore Indians have stopped searching for jobs. In India, the labour force is 45%, while in China and Brazil, it is 65-70%,” said Professor Kumar.
He further said, “A report we revealed last year tells that 32 million Indians have proper jobs while 28 million do not have proper jobs. Data shows that 28 crore people are registered in the unorganised sector. As many as 94% of the 28 crore people in unorganised sector earn less than Rs 10,000 a month. It means that 94% of the people in unorganised sector’s workforce, are working on low wages. The situation In India is that 40 crore people are supporting 140 crore people. Poverty will rise obviously.”
The latest NCRB (National Crime Records Bureau) data also shows that most of those who died by suicide in 2021 are daily wage earners, self-employed and unemployed. Around 64% of suicide victims in 2021 had annual income of under Rs 1 lakh and around 31% of men were daily wage earners.

Professor Kumar further said, “The foremost reason for rise in unemployment is government’s false policies. The implementation of demonetisation and GST badly affected the unorganised sector. The unorganised sector is suffering continuously after that. That is the reason for rising poverty. After the pandemic, the demand shifted to e-commerce and that has also affected the unorganised sector. The government also promoted e-commerce. Jitna unorganised sector girega, utna unemployment badhega (The more the unorganised sector falls, the more the unemployment rises). These government policies are responsible for unemployment. And the effect will continue, until the government changes its policies.”
The Rajya Sabha was also informed on March 15 that sixteen students, including eight from IITs, died by suicide in 2022, due to academic stress, family and personal reasons, mental health issues among others.