Manju (26) and Ashish Balhara had their future mapped out when they tied the knot three years ago in Rohtak’s Bahu Akbarpur village. Both were certain their qualifications — Manju is an MSc (maths) and a BEd, and Ashish has an MBA degree — would land them govt jobs. Neither found one.
Ashish took up a job with a private company in Gurgaon. Manju, who tried for three years to get a teaching job in a govt school and cleared both state and central teacher eligibility tests, has resorted to her last career choice — giving tuitions to children in the village.
“The state does not have any openings for TGT (trained graduate teacher) and PGT (postgraduate teacher) posts in Mathematics.I registered on HKRN too, but I haven’t received any response,” she said, referring to govt’s Haryana Kaushal Rojgar Nigam platform for job seekers.
“You’ll find many unemployed graduates when you go to villages. Youngsters like us study so we can get work. We can’t rely on farming. It doesn’t pay anything,” Ashish said. He isn’t off the mark. Ask Deepak Kaushik, a graduate who runs a grocery store in Pehrawar village of Rohtak. Or Bharat Singh, a graduate who lost his job and now drives an autorickshaw in Bhiwani’s Kalinga for a living.
The Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) released by the Union ministry of statistics and pro gramme implementation ranked Haryana third on the list of states with highest unemployment rates between July 2022 and June 2023. At 6.1%, Haryana’s joblessness rate is almost double that of the national average of 3.2%. The unemployment rate for the first quarter of 2024 was 9.5% for the 15-29 age group, up from 8.3% the previous quarter, latest PLFS data shows.
Low Govt Recruitment
Other than farming, there are few career avenues beyond the glass walls of Gurgaon’s corporate offices. Most aspire for govt jobs (Group C and D posts), become teachers or join the forces — police and military. But govt recruitment has now dipped. And, since Centre announced its Agnipath scheme in 2022 for recruiting defence personnel below officer rank, perception of the most coveted job has changed among the youth.
As the state goes to polls on Saturday, youngsters in villages in five districts TOI visited — Rohtak, Jhajjar, Sonipat, Bhiwani and Charkhi Dadri — had a common refrain: lack of employment. Their primary concern will drive their vote, which they said would go to the party that creates jobs evenly across villages and towns.
“In 2019, 75% reservation for locals was promised by govt. They knew that it would be challenged in courts. It was just a gimmick. They glorify more and execute less on the ground. Similarly, Agniveer was a big loss for us in Haryana,” said Pinaki Dev, a resident of Bahu Akbarpur in Rohtak. Govt told legislators in Vidhan Sabha last year that 13.9 lakh youngsters enrolled in district employment offices between 2015 and 2022. Of these, around 1 lakh got permanent jobs.
‘Don’t Want Group D Job’
“I tried to get a private job, but salaries were too low. I registered with HKRN, but there are no vacancies for mechanical engineers. I don’t want to take up a Group D job with an engineering degree… So, I’m helping my family on the farm and preparing for Staff Selection Commission (SSC),” said Sachin Balhara (24), also of Bahu Akbarpur.
Group D category is for non technical jobs such as sanitation staff, gardener, peon and driver.
Deepak Kaushik (32), who runs a grocery store in Pehrawar, 20km away, said: “Recruitment exams are held for posts like gram sachiv (secretary) but the results aren’t declared. This keeps candidates in a limbo.” He added: “While the PM is 73 and running for a third term, there are schemes that say youngsters can only serve in the Army for four years. Is that fair?”
Kaushik’s friend Mukul (26) said recruitments came to a halt during Covid, and paper leaks have hit their confidence. “For young people, caste politics holds little significance. We want candidates who promise to deliver employment opportunities,” he said.
‘Berozgaron Ki Baraat’
Two large groups of govt job applicants have, meanwhile, taken to the streets to protest. In the election season in Haryana, applicants for govt jobs and posts of TGTs have been organising ‘Berozgaron ki Baraat’ (procession of unemployed) in different districts.
TGT candidates who took their exams last April are still waiting for their results, as are Group C job applicants who appeared for the exams conducted by the Haryana Staff Selection Commission (HSSC) last Aug because of subsequent court moves.
Vidya from Sonipat, who was part of one such procession, said, “PM talks about ‘Modi ki guarantee’. And govt says ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’. We have studied, but there are no jobs. We are on the streets despite our education,” she said.
Who Can Deliver?
In Sonipat’s Kharkhoda, Randeep Dahiya (56), who runs a gaushala, was worried whether his two children would get jobs. “My son is 26 and has completed BCom, MCom and BEd. He is now studying law. My daughter (24) has done MSc in agriculture and is preparing for a PhD. Since they did not get jobs, they decided to study further,” Dahiya said, adding: “Logon ko badlaav chahiye (people want change).”
Some 90km west of Kharkhoda, a 24-year-old standing at a food stall in Bhiwani’s Kharak, asked where the private jobs were beyond Gurgaon-Manesar. Vishnu Parmar worked at an auto spare parts factory in Manesar. “The company shut down and now I can’t support my elderly parents. I have been job-hunt ing. I have ITI certification, too. But nothing seems to be of use,” he said, adding BJP was the only party that he believed could provide “jobs without reservation”.
Satish Sharma, who has switched to selling fast food in the village market, says he gave up on his dream of joining the Army. “I don’t have a choice anymore. Things have changed after the Agnipath scheme.”
There are 2.6 lakh people currently enrolled in govt’s Saksham Yuva portal that helps youngsters get jobs. Among them are 22,400 postgraduates, 70,226 graduates and 1.6 lakh with intermediate degrees.
Contract Jobs
An independent association of trade unions called Sarv Karmchari Sangh has been demanding that the govt dissolve HKRN. It claims govt is offering only contractual jobs through the portal, likening it to “giving peanuts when people need an actual source of earning and stable work”.
Congress sees evidence of people’s frustration with 10 years of BJP rule in the bleak jobs scene. Udai Bhan, state president of Haryana Congress, told TOI, “The CM is ending the practice of providing regular govt jobs that students grow up aspiring for with HKRN’s contractual mode. It has been years since a recruitment exam has not ended up in court. There is no system of reservation in HKRN jobs. Students from the marginalised communities have no way into the system due to lack of appointments. Youths have been preparing for govt jobs for years. Those who cracked recruitment exams in 2016-17 are still waiting for job adverts. They have gone into depression, and ultimately, coerced by the situation into accepting whatever little this govt has to offer.”
BJP, however, believes this is a negative campaign by the opposition and the voters will see through it.
Arvind Saini, state media incharge of BJP, said, “The current BJP govt has made significant strides in addressing the problem of unemployment by introducing a transparent and fair appointment process. Unlike the previous Congress regime, where the use of ‘parchi’ and ‘kharchi’ was prevalent, BJP has worked to eliminate corrupt practices. By doing so, govt has ensured qualified candidates have an equal opportunity to secure employment based on merit, rather than through nepotism or bribery. As a result, the issue of unemployment has taken a backseat in the current election, as voters recognise efforts made by the BJP govt.”

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