Of late there has been a lot of commentary on jobs and employment in India. I would like to share my own 2 cents. A small caveat I am not a journalist and thus not an expert of economics, yield curves, cricket, missile tech, space research etc. I am but a moderately well-educated layman.
One constant commentary these days is how 1000s and at times millions some of whom are highly qualified apply for few menial jobs. Even his holiness Mr. Raghuram Rajan cited the same thing. Recently a former journalist and I had an argument on the same topic and he shared a recent report on NDTV of how 95000+ applied for 62 UP peon posts. The applicants included PhDs, Masters, Graduates when all the job needed was 5th pass only.
In my opinion this is an incorrect reading of the situation. Let me present some points
Quality Quality Quality—We never know what is the quality of these individuals – as has been often shown, in many places people get degrees and qualifications very easily without basic academic rigor and at times by cheating. The famous Bihar topper is but one example. So PhDs Peons is good alliteration but may not be anything else.
The main argument I have is that there is no crazy clamor for jobs but rather a crazy clamor for government jobs. In the work, I do we often benchmark hypothesis against similar market trends. So has this crazy ration of 1: 1530 applicants along with highly qualified applicants been replicated in any similar private sector recruitment in the same area. Even in a relatively backward state like UP has this ratio been demonstrated when any private firm has hired peons? If not this rush of qualified people for menial jobs is a distortion and not a trend. I have yet to see even 1 article in media showing such applications in the private sector. ( Yes there are individual MBAs driving Ubers but those are generally outliers or other factors otherwise one can claim that every Petrol Pump attendant can set up Reliance! )
When an Amazon hires delivery agents we never see such incredible rush but we do if any government department anywhere hires courier men! Recently there was a similar article about thousands of qualified people applying for 13 waiter posts in Mantralaya Mumbai and thus even the financial capital is sitting on a massive job crisis! There are multiple fine dining restaurants that have lit up the Mumbai scene in last few years. So, the takeaway is that people want to be waiters at Mantralaya but not at restaurants being run by global/ Michelin starred chefs!
So one conclusion is that the private sector is really exploiting workers but it is really hard to believe that all across 1.2 billion people and millions of firms everyone in sync is paying low and exploiting workers but no one actually says anything and thus no movement / strikes or government action has started.
The obvious conclusion then is that the government is over paying.
Pay! Yes most critical. If you notice none, I repeat none of these articles ever state or benchmark the salary on offer. The aforementioned requirement on peons offers salaries starting from 18000 a month to a maximum of 56900 a month ( https://m.dailyhunt.in/news/india/hindi/dainik+rojgar-epaper-dairoj/5+vi+pas+sandesh+vahak+ki+nikali+jagah+sailari+18000+se+shuru-newsid-93664379 )
-For peons who are 5th pass in a poor state with low standards of living! As per a cursory google check – In the state of UP minimum wage in most manufacturing industries for unskilled workers is 7600 per month.(https://www.simpliance.in/minimum-wages/uttar-pradesh) So, an unskilled peon can earn 3 to 7 times an unskilled factory worker who even must do physically intensive work. Add to this other actual & perceived benefits of government jobs- lifelong job security, housing (in some cases) , pension etc. Anecdotally in many parts of the country even dowry rates for boys increase if they are in government jobs!
Even more surprising is when you look at income distribution in India. This calculator from Times of India-Yes its ToI so I would be a bit skeptical. ( Link — https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/calculator.cms ) shows that this Peon position would be in the Top 3% richest in India! Even this Hindu article ( Link https://www.thehindu.com/data/how-many-indians-are-richer-than-you/article8551773.ece )shows that such a person could be in top 2% of tax payers and easily among the top quintile of the country . So this mere 5th pass peon job can take you directly in the top echelons on income in India , so whats surprising is not that 95000 have applied but that just 95000 have applied!
And what is the cost for applying for these jobs- not just the actual cost of forms (though that matters it is not significant) Just take a day off, stand in the queue and deposit the form. If you get picked -Life settle ho gayi if not kya farak pada
It appears to be some sort of a lottery scheme. And that is the real scandal. Given that most government departments and companies are not in a financially good shape it implies that our tax money is used to fund a lottery scheme. Ask yourself why– You can get better service with private firms that pay lower wages to their employees than with government firms where employees are far better paid- with your taxes.
Possibly these kinds of benefits are not sustainable and thus government jobs are reducing. An increasing population with more educational institutes further exacerbates the issue and thus we have many more educated candidates for fewer positions and education penetration than earlier.
To conclude I do not intend to state that there is massive employment or no job crisis In India, all I am stating is there may be a crisis for government jobs.