It is safe to say that many, if not all, Nagas aspire and are inspired by their parents/seniors to secure a government job and become government officers. Government jobs are popularly characterised as the most stable and an easy source of income in the state, and thus many aim for it. According to the Directorate of Employment, there are currently tens of thousands of youth registered as ‘unemployed’ in Nagaland, this is excluding the unaccounted number of unregistered youths. The prospects for new applicants seem bleak as various government departments are over-saturated with employees. Chief Secretary of Nagaland Temjen Toy recently stated that there are even “posts that are not needed or required anymore but are still occupied; these posts need to be done away with and leave room for new posts”. The toxic dependency on government jobs in Nagaland pressurises the government to employ further in order to reduce unemployment in the state and this weighs heavily on the state’s ailing exchequer.
This dependency on government jobs is prevalent not only in the state of Nagaland; many states in India too are facing the same crisis. Over 93,000 candidates, including 3,700 PhD holders, applied for a peon job in Uttar Pradesh, in August 2017. Over 2.8 crore people applied for 90,000 posts in the Indian railway in March 2018. MBAs and engineers were among 4,000 applicants competing for 14 sanitary worker jobs in Tamil Nadu. The job crisis in India is evident, and as the government mulls over creating more burdensome government jobs and opportunities, perhaps it’s time to look back and dedicate more time and resources towards the neglected “fall back” work options available in private industries. Many who aspire to be government officers and are unable to attain such jobs due to lack of opportunity, low grades or financial circumstances settle for fall back options.
The discourse that deems teaching, journalism, entrepreneurship and other non-archetypical private jobs as fall back options undermines the importance and significance of such work. For instance, the status of teachers matter as they nurture children throughout their elemental education; journalists are essential in the reporting of crucial issues and upholding of democratic values; and entrepreneurs are the job creators and inventors without which the world would not exponentially progress as it does today. Private jobs provide opportunities for faster promotions, competitive and fast-paced work environments, and the opportunity to be on the cutting edge in one’s field of work.
It is high time for Nagas to stop depending on government jobs alone and instead create opportunities and work towards other options, not as ‘fall back’ but as first choice and pave the way by creating/building industries and scope for future generations.