Yogendra Yadav, in a recent article, has impressively analysed India’s unemployment scenario. On the basis of various reports and calculations, he estimates that there are 14.2 crore unemployed persons in our country at present. It is a horrendous situation that requires immediate address and engagement. What makes this more frightening is that we cannot see any effort or plan to ease this unemployment burden.
It is high time for us to realise and to accept that there is no possibility of any ray of redress in the current economic and fiscal dungeon helmed by a political realm infected, for too long, at least for three decades, with two viruses- the Neo-con and the Neo-lib. Yadav has correctly underlined that under-employment is a serious malaise. That, too, is around for decades. Many economists have pointed out that the growth of last few decades is basically a jobless growth that manifests itself as the growing huge inequality.
Responding to an article by Mahesh Vyas, Yogendra Yadav rejects the opinion that unemployment cannot be a basis for political mobilisation. Here I disagree. I can understand his unlimited optimism inspired by the Gandhian vision with a tint of the Lohiaite actions and a hint of liberal ideas. I respect that, but any optimism has to be based on the reality. If it is not so, then it is a mere wishful thinking or just a reflection of an inner wish expressed as a realisable possibility.
Yadav calls us skeptics, who do not think that the issue of unemployment can cause a political upheaval. We skeptics believe in evidences. Show me one concrete incidence when this issue instigated a large movement in our country or in any democracy globally. This can find a place on a charter or be mentioned in a manifesto, but it cannot be a catalyst in a socio-political system like ours.
Apart from the main points explained by Vyas, I would like to draw Yadav’s attention to the fact that the northern and eastern parts of India have the largest poor population in the world. All sorts of problems and backwardness persist. One can tell me all those stories of political movements and transformations, but the fact remains- these areas lack profound political agencies that can mobilise the deprived people on any issue.
And, how can we talk about unemployment, if we shy away from debating the Neo -con and Neo-lib junta? Even if there is a mobilisation and the State is willing to concede the demands, where is the way? Shouldn’t we think about the weakening of the Nation-State? Though Yadav calls for a campaign ‘that forces a rethink on the ruling economic orthodoxy’, he forgets the fact that a huge mass of our youth vouch for not only this ruling economic orthodoxy, but all kinds of orthodoxies. And, it must be reminded that this is not an economic orthodoxy, but a blatant embezzlement. Even orthodoxies have some values.
As a wise man underlined many decades ago, the primary duty of a capitalist liberal democratic State is to save capitalism from the capitalists. A weak State cannot perform this ‘sacred’ act. We have become a society that has no ambition, that has no dream. We should look at the problem properly. We should not plaster it with a wishful thinking fantasising about some mass action or revolution, when there is none. A society deeply divided into caste, class and junk thoughts disguised as ideologies cannot mobilise itself even in the face of an alien attack.
In fact, even Yogendra Yadav is not sure of his relentless optimism. He has used lots of can, could, should etc. The main basis of his high hopes is a ‘minimum critical mass of educated youth in the urban areas’ that unemployment has created. We have missed the once-in-a-lifetime bus of demographic dividends. This mass will soon be old and weak, and in three decades we have bigger mass of dependents than the workforce. We can see that the soon-to-join workforce will be equally unskilled and devoid of any zeal to excel or achieve as is the case with the current one.
The institutions are busy in serving a tiny bunch of the Supra. The elites are jaded. The middle class is absent. Who will formalise and lead the mobilisation, even if it is a possibilty?