“The youth here (Tripura) runs after political parties for several years to get a government job and waste vital time of his life. Had the same youth, instead of running after parties, set up a paan shop, he would have by now had a bank balance of Rs 5 lakh.”
This is what Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Deb said a few weeks ago at a seminar for the youth, revealing what he thought about the job market in his state. This statement came as a part of a series of gaffes from the chief minister, suddenly propelling the tiny, nondescript state of Tripura into limelight.
This specific statement on jobs – especially in a state that has one of the highest rates of unemployment in the country – ruffled a lot of feathers. Of Tripura’s 38 lakh population, 18.7 percent are unemployed. This, despite the state having a literacy rate of over 94 percent.
The Quint travelled to Agartala to speak to the youth and find out what they have to say about their chief minister’s take on jobs. Is it in tandem with what they expected from a new government after 25 years of the Left rule?
Highly Skilled, But Highly Unemployed
Most of the jobless youth in Tripura said that the problem in the state was not just the unavailability of jobs, but also the lack of jobs that match their skill set.
Anglo Debburma, 30, took up forestry as a specialisation during his graduation because he wanted to work in Tripura. However, since he graduated in 2013, the Forestry Department of the state government has made no recruitments. In fact, their last recruitment was in 2008. With a degree but nowhere to go, Anglo is still waiting for a job, and is thoroughly disappointed with the Chief Minister’s comment.
At first, he promised that he would give at least one job to one member of each family. But now, since his statement is changing, I would much rather start a business. But opportunities for business are few in our state, so we earn less. That’s why a government job is better for us.Anglo Debburma to The Quint
He also said, quite vehemently, that he’d never open a paan shop.
Debburma’s sentiments were resonated by Diptanil Das, a final year computer engineering student at the National Institute Of Technology, Agartala. He said that for an IT graduate like him, lack of software companies and similar industries in the state meant that he would have to leave Agartala after graduation.
We have the talent and the skills to offer, but we have no place where we can put our skills to work.Diptanil Das, an engineering student
Pritha Bhowmik, a final year law student, is worried about the lack of vacancies in the state judiciary and the lack of good lawyers to practise under.
I have spent years pursuing law. I see so many graduates without jobs. Now that my degree is coming to an end, I really get scared when I think about what’s going to happen to me.Pritha Bhowmik to The Quint
‘It Might Seem Bizzare, But Biplab Had A Point’
In spite of the Chief Minister’s comments, most of the youngsters The Quint spoke to laid the blame for the lack of jobs squarely on the previous Left government. The lack of industries in the state was a culture that was brought about by the stagnancy of the previous government, they say.
While all of them agreed that Deb could probably use a better speechwriter, they felt that he had a point. Government jobs would not satisfy the job requirements of the state and the youth must be empowered to start their own ventures.
Just not a paan shop!
I’m not advocating my CM but he has been misconstrued. He said that in the previous government, people were howling “Inquilab Zindabad” and begging for jobs. But could they do anything? No. Why should I, a class 12 graduate, or a undergraduate run after a political party for a job? Maybe his choice of words were not appropriate, but 38 lakh people can’t all get government jobs.Pujaeta Nag, final year student of English Honours
Like Nag, Manik Chakraborty, a teacher at a government college, agreed that the youth needs to be made business-literate so that they could start their own ventures.
It is not possible for the government to give government jobs to every youth. So, the government should focus on skill development so that the youth can channelise their funds for investment purposes.Manik Chakraborty to The Quint
So, How Does the Youth Expect the New Govt to Solve Their Job Problems?
Well, two things:
a) Open up vacant government jobs for recruitment, and
b) Invite more industries into the state.
“The government should take the initiative because government jobs are limited and applications are increasing every day,” said Das.
Nag, on the other hand, believed that if the intrinsic job culture of the state doesn’t change, the youth would remain demotivated.
We have a number of graduates, Masters degree holders, but we haven’t created that environment for them. There are many meritorious students who are not getting to work in the field they chose. It demoralises the youth.Pujaeta Nag
Saumyarup Nath, a senior of Deb from college, also felt the same way. Local entrepreneurs and businessmen must be sensitised to helping the youth when they start their own ventures, he felt.
There’s very little scope for development in our state, so, if the government wants us to start our own thing, then there must be big businesses and people who can join them in their venture.Samyarup Nath
The youth now hope that a new regime would, indeed, mean a new beginning for the state.
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