In The News



by HUMRA QURAISHI June 18 2024, 12:00 am Estimated Reading Time: 3 mins, 41 secs

Rising joblessness exacerbates homelessness, while educational and political controversies undermine trust. A call for genuine governance and accountability remains urgent amidst ongoing tragedies and systemic issues, writes Humra Quraishi.

The past week has brought troubling news. Over 40 Indians lost their lives in a tragic fire in Kuwait, a stark reminder of the risks faced abroad. Compounding this, reports surfaced of two Indians killed while fighting for the Russian army in Ukraine. Meanwhile, there's been no update on Indians who went to Israel seeking work, despite awareness of the country's military actions, which continue to raise concerns.

The issue here is the lack of sufficient job opportunities in India, prompting many to seek work overseas. Official figures indicate a rise in unemployment, with rates reaching 5.4% nationally and 6.5% in urban areas by March 2023. Recent data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) paints a grimmer picture, showing an 8% jobless rate as of February 2024. Youth unemployment is particularly alarming, with government figures showing nearly 16% of urban youth aged 15-29 were unemployed in 2022-23, citing inadequate skills and a dearth of quality jobs. CMIE estimates suggest even higher rates, with youth unemployment possibly reaching as high as 45.4%.

The situation shouts out for a critical need for robust employment opportunities to prevent the exodus of skilled and motivated individuals seeking livelihoods abroad. The fate of over 24 lakh youth that appeared for NEET this year continues to hang in the air. With the present status quo, where are all these children going to go?

In response to the NEET-UG 2024 exam held on May 5, allegations of mark inflation and irregularities by the NTA surfaced. Twenty students petitioned the Supreme Court to cancel the exam, requesting a CBI-monitored investigation and a court-supervised retest. They highlighted discrepancies, including 67 candidates scoring a perfect 720. Several candidates filed writ petitions in High Courts over inadequate exam time due to delayed starts. NTA responded by rescinding grace marks awarded to 1,573 candidates, offering them a retest option. Reports of alleged exam paper leaks further complicated matters, with Bihar Police recovering cheques from a mafia group demanding Rs 30 lakh per candidate for leaked papers.

Jairam Ramesh of the Indian National Congress criticized NTA’s admission of inflated scores due to textbook changes and grace marks, and accused NCERT of politicization. He condemned the revised Class XI political science textbook for its political bias and criticized the declining quality of education. He blames the NCERT for aligning with RSS interests since 2014, condemning the revised Class XI political science textbook for political bias. He said that educational bodies should not propagate agendas and lamented the declining quality of textbooks.

Another consequence tied to unemployment is homelessness, exacerbating the plight of those affected. In Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, a demolition drive has targeted homes, particularly in Muslim communities allegedly for political reasons, following reports of low support for the BJP. Recently, hundreds of homes in Akbar Nagar basti were bulldozed, part of an ongoing demolition campaign. With no clear destination in sight for the homeless, the situation is compounded by scorching temperatures and poverty, leaving them vulnerable and without shelter.

There appears to be little optimism for improved governance despite the formation of a new government and the allocation of ministerial portfolios. Will we witness genuine progress or succumb to familiar tactics and distractions of the past?

Already today, 17th June 2024, the tragic news of a train accident dominates headlines, where a goods train collided with the Kanchanjunga Express in Darjeeling, resulting in numerous injuries and fatalities. In response, Member of Parliament Priyanka Chaturvedi rightly pointed out the predictable responses to such tragedies – cries against politicization or deflections towards other issues, leaving accountability for the incident and the lives lost unresolved.  

Echoes of past communal tensions persist unabated, despite widespread condemnation of hate speech. Political leaders seem immune to consequences for their divisive rhetoric, while avenues for citizen protest continue to diminish. Any dissent is met with baseless accusations and attempts to silence legitimate concerns.

Recent reports from ADR highlighting criminal backgrounds of some parliamentarians underline the need for ongoing scrutiny and updates on their status. The electorate's awakening during recent elections speaks aloud of a growing awareness about the need for peaceful coexistence and focus on genuine issues, rejecting divisive politics and communal agendas.

As I've emphasized before, in a functional democracy, leadership should transcend religious affiliations. However, concerns arise when democratic principles are eroded by persistent challenges and fundamental breaches.   

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The writers are solely responsible for any claims arising out of the contents of this article.