Editor’s note

Published : Jul 24, 2022 18:00 IST

In January this year, youth in Bihar went on a rampage when a Railway recruitment exam policy was modified. They feared it would hurt their already slim chances—around 1.25 crore candidates had applied for 35,000 posts. In June, thousands of aspirants for jobs in the armed forces, who had been preparing for years and were waiting for recruitment to restart after the pandemic, were shocked when Agnipath arrived to dash their hopes. They erupted in fury.

As always, political pundits and government apparatchiks were baffled. Why would a scheme that offers a well-paid job for four years and Rs.11 lakh when it ends be rebuffed? Only their surprise was surprising—everyone knows the enormous faith Indian families place in the lifelong security of a government job and pension. Instead, here was a scheme that asked them to start hunting all over again after four years.

Understanding the rage is to understand that the absence of a social security net makes the sarkari naukri an average Indian’s safest bet. That one of every four young job seekers is unemployed, one of every four Indians is poor, and 10 per cent of Indians control 77 per cent of its wealth. The country is sitting on a tinderbox of discontent.

To make a dent in the massive unemployment crisis, research shows that at least 90 million jobs must be generated by 2030. This is a tall order. Are we up to it?

This issue looks at the unfolding disaster, possibilities to staunch the bleeding, and the social impact of joblessness. Does that sound bleak? Flip to the back of the book, where we serve soul food from the worlds of books, music, and art. And, of course, NASA’s stunning images from space.

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