Right to Employment Sacrificed at Altar of ‘Austerity Measures’ in Uttarakhand

THE Uttarakhand government has issued an order to stay recruitments in 2020-21. The logic behind this order is the old cliché that the government needs to curtail expenditure. But the truth of these so-called austerity measures is exposed by Principal Secretary Utpal Kumar Singh’s letter of 10 June. In Point No. 2 he says new posts will not be created and appointment of workers on the basis of daily wage or contract will be wholly banned. But in Point No. 5 he says that no personal staff posts should be created for Advisors, Chairmen and Members of various Departments. The meaning is clear. There is no curb on decorative, influential and close-to-power posts like Advisor, Chairman etc. whose expenditure is enormous. These posts will remain in the name of ‘accountability’. But workers and staff in government Departments will not be recruited as giving them salaries is a ‘waste of money’!

The Uttarakhand government which talks of austerity is the same government that opposed collection of rent for residences allotted to former Chief Ministers. When the High Court gave a verdict in favor of rent collection, the Uttarakhand government immediately passed a new law, which again was declared unconstitutional by the HC. Clearly, the government can go to any lengths for ‘their own people’ but considers it a waste of money to provide employment to the unemployed. Last year the Principal Secretary had issued orders that in cases where contract workers have petitioned for equal pay for equal work, strong arguments should be made against this. The letter issued on 10 June states that recruitment should be stopped and if workers are needed they should be arranged through outsourcing. Clearly, outside agencies will not follow any rules and regulations regarding workers’ rights, and the weaker sections and youth seeking employment will be exploited.

Thus, the Trivendra Rawat government has made 2020 the ‘year for unemployment’. But what happened in 2019 which was supposed to be ‘the year for employment’ as declared by the Uttarakhand government? On 18 September 2019 the Joint Secretary Personnel had asked all the Departments to send details of vacant posts as per the new roster for requisitions to be sent to the Lok Sewa Ayog. All that had to be done was to attach 10% reservation for the economically backward in the earlier details. But this was not done, and the Upper Secretary Personnel had to send reminders to all the Departments on 7 November 2019. The Forest Guard Recruitment Exam held in 2019 after many years became notorious because of the paper being leaked in advance. No PCS exam has been conducted in Uttarakhand after 2017. About 56000 posts are lying vacant in government Departments.

Unemployment is at its peak in Uttarakhand. The HRD report prepared by the Uttarakhand government says that the unemployment rate for youths above Middle School education in 2004-05 was 9.8% and in 2017 it grew to 17.04%. But government jobs have now been ended in the name of ‘austerity measures’! Our austere government may or may not have been able to provide employment in the ‘Employment Year’, but it certainly is providing unemployment in the ‘Unemployment Year’!

- Indresh Maikhuri