Getting the 'job' done? Clearly not: Punjab's political parties fight it out over Rozgar Melas
Punjab is witnessing a new political tug of war over the job fairs being organised by the Captain Amarinder Singh-led state government. As the government gets down to implementing its poll promise of a job to every household, the Opposition is hitting out at the low packages being offered. Even the students are not enthused enough with what they are getting.
The government has responded with a counter attack slamming the 'negative' mindset of the Opposition.
The issue is all set to be played out during the upcoming Gurdaspur Lok Sabha bypoll as well as the local body polls scheduled back to back.
The state government recently held a 10-day Mega Job Fair at various university campuses. According to the Technical Education Minister Charanjit Singh Channi, it is because of sincere efforts of the Amarinder-led government that 900 companies have come forward to provide employment to the youth in the state in the first phase of the employment campaign.
Channi claimed that the youth of Punjab have been offered job packages from Rs 1.25 lakh onwards to Rs 12 lakh annually. He said that Amarinder would hand over appointment letters to 50,000 youth in Mohali on 5 September at a function.
He added that the job fairs are a unique initiative of the state government to bring private companies and the youth on to a single platform and that has built the confidence of all the stakeholders. The Punjab government would soon start employment fairs for those who want to start their own ventures and would provide them easy loans, Channi added.
The state education minister Aruna Chaudhary informed that the first district-level job fair was organised at Gurdaspur in which 838 unemployed men and women were placed with various companies. She said that Amarinder himself monitored the 21 job fairs held till 31 August.
Salaries lower than acceptable?
The government disputed the claim that the Opposition had charged it with misleading the youth. The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has asked the Punjab government and Channi, in particular, to deliver jobs to students instead of insulting them by telling them to accept placements lower than the minimum wages applicable in the state.
Former education minister and senior SAD leader Dr Daljit Singh Cheema said that it is shocking that the government and its technical education minister has allowed companies to recruit students with technical diplomas and degrees at rates which were lower than the minimum wage prescribed in the state.
Cheema said that the job offers at the so called 'Rozgar Mela', which was actually an annual placement drive which had been appropriated by the Punjab government for cheap publicity, ranged between Rs 6,000 and Rs 9,000 per month.
He said these job offers are a blatant violation of established norms which stipulated that semi-skilled labour force should be given a minimum compensation of Rs 321 per day and skilled manpower that of Rs 356 per day. He said the students were offered even less than Rs 303 per day fixed for agriculture labour.
“What is most condemnable is that instead of fixing norms for recruitment in the placement drive which had been taken under the ambit of the state government, Channi insulted students who had pointed out this anomaly to him,” Cheema charged.
“Earlier the Congress had raised the hopes of the youth by promising ‘Ghar Ghar Naukri’ and now when it has come to power, it has appropriated the routine placement drive of technical institutions but has failed to fix norms to ensure students are not exploited in any manner,” he added.
Cheema also pointed that even 35,000 contractual employees whose jobs had been regularised by the SAD-BJP government are still to get the benefit under the new government.
“Services of outsourced employees have been terminated. Sewa Kendras, which were employing thousands of educated youth, have been closed down. In stark contrast, the SAD-BJP government under the leadership of Parkash Singh Badal gave 2.28 lakh jobs to youth. In this regime not a single job has been given till yet,” he claimed.
Aam Aadmi Party leader Sukhpal Singh Khaira who is also the Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly has reportedly accused the government of fooling the state’s youth on the name of providing job to one person from every household.
“Like other promises of weeding out drugs, waiving off farmers' loans and providing mobile phones to the youth, the government is also shying away from fulfilling the promise of providing government jobs to the youth of Punjab. The hype of organising job fairs to provide employment to the youth created in media is nothing but jugglery of words,” said Khaira.
He said that private universities and institutes have been organising these job fairs for students for decades and the government has got nothing to do with it.
Khaira also criticised the government for failing to fill up the vacant posts in different state government departments.
Channi hit back saying that the opposition parties are frustrated due to the success of the first phase of the 'Ghar Ghar Naukri' employment campaign. He also charged the SAD-BJP combine of ruining the youth in the state over the last ten years and pushing them into drugs.
The government has also denied that this was a show of private institutions. “We had created a portal and asked youngsters to get themselves registered no matter from where they had passed out. They were all on a common platform with the industry representatives. Some of the private institutions had just provided their premises for these fairs,” said an official.
Some papers have also reported that the youngsters in the district have been not too enthusiastic with what they were offered. Reports say that most of them were left complaining about a meagre salary of Rs 9,000 to Rs 11,000 that was offered – which they say is not enough to meet their expenses since they would be relocating to new destinations.
In addition to this, they pointed out that the jobs being offered were not in tandem with their educational profiles.
Economists have been saying that the solution to the woes of the primarily rural Punjab is to provide employment to the youth near their homes. They say that this can offset the drawback of a lesser salary.