WASHINGTON – Narendra Modi, India’s Prime Minister since May 2014, has disappointed many supporters. While recent GDP growth numbers look good, (+7.5%), the average Indian is not doing so well.
Where are the deep reforms?
Most critical of all, Modi so far failed to deliver on far-reaching reforms aimed at simplifying the business environment. Notwithstanding Modi’s efforts, India is still an almost impenetrable maze of federal and state laws, including a plethora of different tax regimes, too many required licenses, too many permits to operate businesses, and obscure regulations.
Hard to run a company there. And therefore it is also hard to attract the large number of foreign investors India openly says it wants and needs in order to add speed and quality to its uneven development. (No, contrary to popular belief, unfortunately most Indians do not hold a Ph.D in computer science. Only a tiny sliver of the Indian labor force is employed by Indian IT companies operating in Bangalore or Chennai. In fact, growth notwithstanding, millions of Indians have no jobs, while millions more work in menial low-pay occupations, because they have little or no education).
Millions seek government jobs
Well, add to this not so inspiring picture another disappointing reality. With all the talk about “private sector-led growth” the sad truth that millions of unemployed or under employed Indians still crave public jobs, even menial ones, that pay extremely little. The BBC reports on a rather shocking example that illustrates this point.
BBC: 368 government jobs, 2.3 million applicants
“Authorities in India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, say they have been overwhelmed after receiving 2.3 million applications for 368 low-level government jobs. Prerequisites for the posts include having primary school qualifications and being able to ride a bicycle. [emphasis added]
But, tens of thousands of graduates, post-graduates and others with doctorate degrees have also applied. An official said it will take four years to interview all the candidates.
“These candidates only have to be interviewed but my estimate is that the entire process will take at least four years to complete even if there are 10 boards interviewing 200 candidates a day, for 25 days a month,” senior official Prabhat Mittal told BBC Hindi’s Atul Chandra.
Those who have applied for the posts, advertised in August, include 255 PhD holders and 152,000 graduates. With the number of applicants, there are more than 6,250 candidates vying for each post. The successful candidates will receive a monthly salary of 16,000 rupees ($240; £156).
Unemployment is a huge challenge in Uttar Pradesh where tens of millions are out of work. The state, with a population of 215 million, is expected to have 13.2 million unemployed young people by 2017, according to one estimate.
Government recruitment drives have attracted massive responses in other parts of India, too. Earlier this year, several people were injured in a stampede when thousands turned up to join the Indian army in the southern city of Visakhapatnam.
In 2010, one man was killed and 11 others were injured in the crush when more than 10,000 candidates gathered to join the police in Mumbai.
And in 1999, the government in West Bengal state was deluged with responses when they advertised 281 jobs and received nearly one million applications.”
So, here are the truly “Incredible India” numbers, as reported by the BBC story:
2.3 million applications
368 clerical jobs – These are low-level, low skill, low pay positions, (functions include: ride a bicycle, serve tea)
Among the applicants:
- 255 PhD holders
- 152,000 graduates
- It will take 4 years to interview all candidates [Estimate]