Context: Growing contractual employment culture
- In 2019, an Indian citizen died of suicide every hour due to joblessness, poverty or bankruptcy, according to the National Crime Records Bureau.
- Several unemployed people in India resort to protests — thousands burnt railway coaches in January 2022 over alleged flaws in the railways recruitment process and more recently, India saw protests over the Agnipath scheme.
A culture of hire and fire
- In May 2022, Haryana terminated the services of over 2,000 contractual health workers who had been hired during the pandemic.
- Over 8,300 panchayat and rural development contractual staff in Assam staged protests in February 2022. They had been in a contractual state for 12-14 years and had not been given bonuses, allowances and other benefits.
- The situation is same in the most of the states.
- First, vacancies in the government are not being filled at a sufficient pace.
- There were over 60 lakh vacancies in the government across all levels in July 2021.Of these, over 9.1 lakh were in the Central government.
- The government has sought to push for recruitment of 10 lakh people in a mission-mode over 1.5 years. However, this would fall short of the size of the problem.
- Second, where vacancies are being filled, they are notably skewed towards contractual jobs.
- In 2014, about 43% of government employees had non-permanent or contractual jobs as per the Indian Staffing Industry Research 2014 report.
- By 2018, the share of government employees in this category had risen to 59%. For Central Public Sector Enterprises, the share of contractual employees increased from 19% to 37%
What needs to be done?
- Instead of expanding contractual employment, focus should be to bolster public services.
- Expanding public service provisioning will also lead to the creation of good quality jobs, along with skilled labour, offering us social stability.
- A push for enhancing public health would lead to the creation of societal assets – having more ICU beds in the first place would have ensured that the COVID-19 crisis could have been managed better
- Such spending, however, will eventually lead to an increase in consumer demand and have strong multiplier effects, while generally improving the productivity and quality of life in India’s cities and villages.
- Focus should be on those sectors that create job opportunities
- Renewable power generation and waste management front – Encouraging solid waste treatment practices would create about 300 jobs per year in a city municipal corporation.
- A push for adopting electric vehicles and encouraging green mobility would require significant manpower, leading to the generation of ‘green jobs’
- Selective PSU reform to create job opportunities
Government jobs have lost their shine. It is time to attract talent to the government. This is the time to build capacity for an efficient civil service that can meet today’s challenges – providing a corruption-free welfare system, running a modern economy and providing increasingly better public goods by bringing the shine back on government jobs.
Source: The Hindu
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