The Fight for the Indian Economy
Northern India Suffers High Unemployment

A recent civil service job posting for a few hundred tea boys and night guards attracted 2.32 million applicants, according to the Financial Times:

Officials said it would take up to four years to conduct interviews for the 368 junior posts advertised by the Uttar Pradesh state government even if candidates were processed at the rate of 2,000 a day by multiple interview boards.

The unprecedented deluge of applications is the latest confirmation of the grim employment prospects in the poor and densely populated states of north India despite an official national unemployment rate of less than 5 per cent.

Narendra Modi, prime minister, promised to create jobs when he was elected last year at the head of the Bharatiya Janata party. His government has focused on programmes to develop workers’ skills, while party leaders have begged young Indians to become entrepreneurs.

But India is struggling to create employment even for the 12m school leavers entering the workforce each year, let alone for the accumulated backlog of unemployed among the population of 1.3bn.

This story suggests that India’s economy might be doing worse than is commonly understood. Not only did the posting attract the undereducated applicants one might expect. It also drew Ph.D.s and 25,000 postgraduates.

When he was elected, Prime Minister Narendra Modi argued that his reform ideas would unleash Chinese-style economic growth in India. That hasn’t happened yet, and Modi has had to drop many of his proposals. A few days ago, we reported on Modi’s remarkable favorability numbers. That support could suffer if Indians continue to have such a hard time finding jobs.

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