New Delhi: The youth in Punjab are the most dissatisfied in the country about employment opportunities in their state, a survey conducted by the Centre for Studying Developing Societies (CSDS)-Lokniti and German think tank Konrad Adenauer Stiftung has found.
The pan-India survey, based on response received from 6,277 people aged 18-34, was conducted between July and August this year. Results released earlier this month revealed 78 per cent of respondents in Punjab felt that the quality of employment opportunities in the state was “bad”. This is far higher than the national average of 41 per cent.
According to Lakhwinder Singh, Professor Emeritus of Economics and Commerce, Punjabi University Patiala, the dissatisfaction found among the youth in the state was “not surprising at all”.
“In Punjab, the starting salaries for government jobs is low,” he alleged.
“The state government providing poor pay affects the bargaining power of workers seeking employment in the private sector, which is already in a bad state (in Punjab). Hence, everyone ends up paying lower salaries which is not competitive at all,” he further claimed.
Sources in the government meanwhile pointed out that the state had a primarily agrarian economy, with limited scope for employment generation.
Commenting on the survey findings, an official in the state government’s department of employment generation, skill development and training claimed “a few years ago, all major industries in the state shifted base to Baddi (a nearby plain district in Himachal Pradesh owing to lucrative schemes offered by the state to business owners, such as tax benefits and cheaper electricity) That cost Punjab a lot in terms of employment opportunities.”
He added: “Punjab is a landlocked state with no ports, so trade activities are also limited. We could have had some advantage of international trade with Pakistan, but that has also been ruled out. So we have very few options of generating employment opportunities in the state.”
While states like neighbouring Haryana and UP already had corporate and business hubs like Noida and Gurugram, Mohali in Punjab is trying to catch up as it tries for the tag of the “IT city of the north”.
Other states which scored poorly in terms of public satisfaction about available job opportunities, include Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar. In comparison, only 6 per cent of the youth in Karnataka felt that the existing job opportunities in their state were not good — perhaps because of the state capital, Bengaluru, being the country’s IT hub.
Only 2% in Punjab feel state has ‘good’ job opportunities
While on an average 15 per cent of Indian youths surveyed, classified available job opportunities in their state as “good”, the same was true of only two per cent of respondents in Punjab. Eighteen per cent of respondents in the state felt it had “average” job opportunities, much lower than the national average of 37 per cent.
In MP too, only two per cent of respondents felt available job opportunities in the state were “good”, but 23 per cent felt they were average, thus making it less dissatisfied than Punjab. Only 64 per cent of respondents here (compared to Punjab’s 78 per cent) classified available job opportunities as “bad”.
Other states where more than 50 per cent of respondents expressed dissatisfaction about available job opportunities include Bihar — where 65 per cent of respondents claimed job opportunities were bad, West Bengal — 56 per cent said it bad job opportunties, and Chhattisgarh — where 54 per cent said the state had poor job opportunities.
In comparison, Karnataka ranked the highest in terms of the satisfaction index of available job opportunities. Fifty-three per cent of respondents here said that the job opportunities in their state was “good”.
Each state also had a percentage of those who did not respond.
Understanding Punjab’s dissatisfaction
Between 2004-05 and 2018-19, the state’s growth in agricultural GDP has averaged 2 per cent, which is lower than the national average of 3.5 per cent.
However, experts believe, the past prosperity had already given those in the state a taste of good life and pushed up living standards for many.
“Due to high living standards, the value of money in the state is relatively low. If you give Rs. 1,000 a day to someone in Punjab and in any other less prosperous state for the same quality of work, the money would mean more to the worker in the other state. In Punjab, it will not yield the same satisfaction. Which is why even if the salaries in Punjab are similar to what’s paid in other less prosperous states, the youth dissatisfaction is likely to go up,” said Sanjay Kumar, professor and co-director of Lokniti, the research programme at CSDS.
He added: “Punjab’s high standard of living also scales up the expectations of its people. Average living levels are high and the gap between existing jobs and expectations are widening. Lower salaries dent the youth’s aspirations. Consequently, those who are able to afford go abroad to settle down in the pursuit of a better quality of life, while those who can’t feel stuck.”
(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)