100 engineers, 500 postgraduates and 2000 graduates applied for the 6 vacant posts of the dome (people who handle corpses in the morgue) in Kolkata’s Nilratan Sarkar Medical College and Hospital's Morgue. The news created headlines in West Bengal on July 24. Crying scarcity of doable jobs suitable for educated youth is a prime feature of present West Bengal as GOWB has stopped appointing people in tens of thousands of Government vacancies. As the State lacks industrial expansion in both goods and service sector, Government jobs constituted a significant percentage of West Bengal’s employment composition. Private corporates too do not appoint here in congruence with the demand as the volume of business in West Bengal for most of the private corporates is lesser than elsewhere.
This again is because the per capita GDP of West Bengal has been steadily de-growing reducing individuals' capacity to consume and thereby provide growth to private businesses. In addition to all these existing crucial factors, prolonged lockdown caused to reduce the volume of existing businesses further resulting in downsizing employee strength. The sector that did well in West Bengal, the real estate sector, has fallen drastically due to both lockdown and ceaseless political unrest, affecting all other sectors of business and profession allied with the real estate works. The other prosperous sector of West Bengal, the food and hospitality sector, has also faced enormous erosion due to prohibited public gatherings as part of Covid protocol, compelling existing businesses to lay off. Consequently, in rate of unemployment as published by CMIE, West Bengal turned the third most jobless State of India after Haryana and Rajasthan followed by Kerala being the fourth most jobless one. West Bengal is a State which doesn’t produce or manufacture much of industrial goods but runs based on the consumption of goods and services. Economy of such a State was expected to nosedive upon indefinite lockdown & so it happened in Bengal. What concerns rationally inclined people is why the State Government is still inclined to continue with lockdown and why has it kept local trains off the track. Without local trains, businesses cannot resume.
As of July 14, 2021, joblessness in West Bengal is 3 times higher than that all over India. While 7.74% of employable Indians are jobless, the percentage is 22.1% in West Bengal. How much of this joblessness is attributable to prolonged unnecessary lockdown in the State is a matter of research. It may not be wrong to contemplate a significant part of the present surge in unemployment to be consequential to the indefinite closure of schools, colleges and other educational institutions which on remaining functional would have raised the demand for various goods & services leading to generation of employment opportunities.
Since population of West Bengal is 3.5 times that of Haryana, absolute number of employable people is far higher in West Bengal than in Haryana. Hence, social impact of 22.1% unemployment rate of West Bengal is much worse than 27.9% unemployment rate of Haryana. Employment status of Rajasthan with 7.95 Crores population as compared to West Bengal’s 10.09 crores having 26.2% unemployment rate is almost as bad as West Bengal’s. On the other hand, Uttar Pradesh having almost 2.5 times population that of West Bengal, displayed only 4.3% unemployment rate as compared to 22.1% of West Bengal. Apart from total population, total fertility rate of Uttar Pradesh is also higher than that in West Bengal. TFR of Uttar Pradesh is 2.7 (higher than National TFR) and that of West Bengal is 1.6 (lower than National TFR) implying that the employable population in Uttar Pradesh is much larger than that of West Bengal. Even of that larger employable population base of UP, only 4.3% is unemployed while in spite of having much smaller employable population base in comparison to UP's, West Bengal has as high as 22.1% of them unemployed. This implies, not only in the rate of unemployment but also in an absolute number of unemployed people, West Bengal’s status is far worse than that of Uttar Pradesh.
As per Financial Year 2019 – 20 annual report of Government of India’s Department of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, Uttar Pradesh had 89.99 lacs MSMEs followed by West Bengal having 88.67 lacs of such enterprises. While number of MSMEs are just 1.32 lacs more in UP than in West Bengal, number of employees working in UP MSMEs are 29.74 lacs more than that in West Bengal’s such enterprises. In 89.99 lacs MSMEs, UP appointed 165.26 lacs employees while in 88.67 lacs MSMEs West Bengal appointed 135.52 lacs. This implies UP MSMEs appointed almost 2 persons per enterprise on average while every 2 MSMEs of Bengal appointed 3 employees. While with respect to population density West Bengal is much more densely populated than Uttar Pradesh and needs to generate more number of sustainable jobs for each area's employable population, the State, in reality, is lagging far behind UP.
West Bengal has to take positive outlook to generate employment in the State. As immediate measure to revive the State’s economy, the Government may pay off the due unpaid dearness allowance to GOWB employees. The money paid to middle class would pour into the market back and boost consumption energizing the economy considerably. The consumption State must also start filling up tens of thousands of Government vacancies. Employment scenario and economy would change at once.