National Unemployment Day: Youth demand jobs, financial security

Protests held on the streets, and on social media, hashtag #NationalUnemploymentDay shared over 4.16 million times


The youth are on the streets, not beating thaalis, not lighting diyas. They are on the streets demanding jobs, and risking a police beating for doing so. Videos of a massive protest at Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh, against the policies of “Modi-Yogi” rather the lack of policies were shared on social media all day. The protest came together, and grew to massive proportions as the ‘joblessness’ situation in the state, and the country shows no signs of abating, and the youth are rightly worried.

Add to that the fears generated by the proposed ‘contract’ employment proposed by the Adityanath led-Uttar Pradesh government. The UP government may soon bring about major changes for Group B and Group C state government employees, who will then be recruited on contract basis for five years. These employees will not be entitled to allowances and other benefits like the permanent employees. The contract can be terminated after ‘scrutiny’ at the end of the five years. According to news reports, UP’s Department of Personnel has initiated the consultation process with other stakeholders and the proposal is likely to be placed before the state cabinet soon.

This proposed move, has now forced a large group of young protesters to gather at Prayagraj, and other areas of the state. They shared videos of the protest, and images of injured protestors who were hit even though they were just demanding permanent jobs and assurances of a secure future. This is perhaps the first major student , and youth led protest that has been seen in Uttar Pradesh in recent months. There was blood on the streets today. And those supporting the protest hoped it would bring about a revolution.

Soon enough, social media trends showed the hashtag #NationalUnemploymentDay  

trending with around 4.16M Tweets. Clearly, social media users wanted to send a message to the governments that young citizens were increasingly feeling frustrated and angry. It was also Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 70th birthday, when social media users took upon themselves to remind him of the mood on the streets.

Then there were protests on the ground, such as the one in Prayagraj, and a series of protests that have already been carried out across the country by trade unions,  Left parties, Congress, Samajwadi Party,  and all of them found a place online today. The trend was fuelled by individual users, and propelled further by political parties and leaders with large online presence. Soon enough “National Unemployment Day” was a thing no one could ignore, along with hashtags such as  ‘#17Sept17Hrs17Minutes’.

“Protests across the country on National Jumla and unemployed day. How long will we keep people from getting off the streets by keeping a lockdown,” asked one.

“Massive unemployment has forced the youth to call today #NationalUnemploymentDay.

Employment is dignity.For how long will the Govt deny it?,” said Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.

Recently, the Minister of Labour and Employment was grilled by Members of Parliament on subjects like unemployment and plight of migrant workers on the opening day of the first session of Parliament after the Covid-19 pandemic. The minister submitted that as many as 1,04,66,152 persons migrated back to their hometowns when asked about labourers who had migrated back from their cities during the nation-wide lockdown, during the monsoon session of Parliament on September 14, 2020. In light of the recent migrations by daily wage workers, Members of Parliament Syed Imtiaz Jaleel and Asaduddin Owaisi asked Labour and Employment Minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar about the condition of the labour force. Firstly, they asked for a confirmation that the unorganised sector was the worst-affected section of society due to the lockdown. Secondly, members asked for State-wise figures of labourers who had migrated due to loss of jobs. Thirdly, they enquired whether the Central government offered any assistance to states with large migration-intake to rehabilitate these labourers and give them employment. Fourthly, members asked how many people had been repatriated to their work-place during the reverse migration process.

In response, the government presented state-wise figures of migrants who had returned to their home states. However, it failed to confirm the condition of the unorganised sector.

The presented data showed that Uttar Pradesh had the highest intake of migrants with over 32 lakh people followed closely by Bihar that recorded the return of over 15 lakh people.