Bring the shine back on government jobs

News: At present, India has been witnessing a number of protests across the country over the Agnipath scheme.

Some Facts and figures related to Unemployment problem in India

According to the NCRB, an Indian citizen died of suicide every hour due to joblessness, poverty or bankruptcy in 2019.

As per the government reports, about 25,000 Indians died of suicide between 2018 and 2020.

In January 2022, several unemployed people resorted to protests over alleged flaws in the railway’s recruitment process.

Haryana terminated the services of over 2,000 contractual health workers (nurses, sweepers, security guards, paramedical staff) who had been hired during the pandemic.

Various medical institutions in Delhi terminated hundreds of nurses, paramedical staff, lab technicians and other contractual workers.

What is the status of vacancies in the government departments?

First, vacancies in the government are not being filled at a sufficient pace. As of July 2022, there were around 60 lakh vacancies in the Central government, state government, PSU banks, PSUs and other institutions.

Second, where vacancies are being filled, they are notably skewed towards contractual jobs. For example, as per the Indian Staffing Industry Research 2014 report, about 43% of government employees (about 12.3 million) had non-permanent or contractual jobs like Anganwadi workers with low wages and no social security cover.

Some States sought to amend recruitment for Group B and C employees for increasing contractual employment (for a five-year period). Post the five-year period, they can be regularised, only if the workers could pass a rigorous performance appraisal, otherwise, they would be dismissed.

In 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that a contractual employee for a government department was not a government servant.

What should be done?

Instead of expanding contractual employment, government should bolster public services. For example, our healthcare system does not have the capacity to provide adequate healthcare support to citizens under normal conditions, forget about pandemic.

ndia possess significant potential for job creation in various areas as mentioned below:

(1) In renewable power generation. For example, in rooftop solar power generation, manufacturing of solar panel modules and end-use servicing,

(2) In the waste management sector, there is significant scope for expanding waste-water treatment capacity. Around 300 jobs per year can be created in a city municipal corporation for solid waste treatment practices

(3) The green jobs can be created due to adoption of electric vehicles and encouraging green mobility

(4) In addition, urban farming can be encouraged, with significant job potential in permaculture, gardening and nursery management.

(5) There is potential for PSU reform. They can be given greater autonomy, with the government retaining control via a holding firm. Indian PSUs could aspire to be as large and efficient as the Chinese ones.

There is a need to attract talent to the government. Instead of downsizing or simply avoiding the cost of pensions and benefits, the government should right-size government because the public services require more doctors, teachers, engineers, and fewer data entry clerks.

The government can start with reforms advocated by the Administrative Reforms Commission.

Source: The post is based on an article “Bring the shine back on government jobs” published in the “The Hindu” on 29th June 2022.

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