A recent news report in Hindustan Times said that in Chhattisgarh for 30 vacancies of peons, a total of 75,000 applications were received. The authorities were ill-prepared to conduct an examination for such a huge number of candidates and, therefore, it was cancelled.
The minimum educational qualification was Class 5 pass. However, several applicants were engineers and post-graduates in arts and science.
This raises some important issues. The first is about the availability of appropriate job opportunities for the youth. Clearly, all the economic growth that the country has seen has not really translated into a commensurate number of jobs for the youth.
This implies that we have witnessed high economic growth with low job creation. The second issue is about the fairness of the process of job selection. Since the number of available jobs is few and the number of aspirants is high, the demand-supply gap distorts the situation and makes it prone to patronage and rent-seeking behaviour. That the process of selection is fair and impartial is of utmost importance; otherwise, it would lead to tremendous dissatisfaction among the unsuccessful candidates.
Another issue is about the quality of education being imparted to students which may sound impressive, but entails no employability. The standard of education being imparted in some of the public sector institutions of higher learning and most of the private sector institutions leaves much to be desired.
We have common entrance tests for professional courses at the Class 12 level, but do not have a common test in which obtaining a minimum score should be a must for gaining a professional degree.
The final issue and the real elephant in the room is about population stabilisation.
UN Population Division estimates say that the population of India has crossed 1.31 billion in 2015 whereas the population of China is a little above 1.37 billion at the moment.
We are happy to talk about the great demographic dividend that we are likely to reap due to a burgeoning young population, but we forget what a lot of people have been telling us for some years now. We have 817 million people in the age group of 15-59 in 2015 and we will have more than 929 million in 2025 in this age group.
This is the productive age group which is looking for jobs in the economy. Can we adequately educate and train them for emerging jobs and occupations? At the moment, there is no reason to be optimistic on this count.
(Amit Mohan Prasad is an IAS officer. The views expressed are personal)