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Gujarat govt's claims on employment 'self-contradictory and shocking'
In a surprising revelation, an RTI reply has proved false the claims of Gujarat government that it provided employment to 65,000 youth in the state under 'Swami Vivekanand Youth Employment Week' organised in February-March 2012.

ACCORDING TO the RTI application, filed by Amrish Brahmbhatt and Rohit Prajapati, instead of 'appointment letter' the workers were provided 'employment letter' with the government logo lacking details like pay, terms and conditions. "This is not just self contradictory but surprising and shocking," the RTI applicants said.

Government of Gujarat has claimed often that unemployment rate in the state is quite low. It also cites the central government labour bureau report to point out that it has the least unemployment rate in the country.

But, Amrish and Rohish lamented that those working in the labour sector in Gujarat since decades have found these statistics, be it by the Government of Gujarat or Government of India, not to be in sync with the ground reality.

Worried over these contradictions, the applicants in association with Vadodara-based Jyoti Karmachari Mandal and Documentation and Study Centre for Action, decided to go for a close scrutiny of Government of Gujarat’s latest “Employment Effort”, the “Swami Vivekanand Youth Employment Week”, held in February-March 2012, as an instance.

Government of Gujarat had organised “Swami Vivekanand Youth Employment Week” (Rozgar Mela) to mark 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekanand early this year. Spread over months, according to Government of Gujarat’s figures such 489 melas (according to the RTI reply) were organised across the state in which government claimed to have provided employment to 65,000 youths.

The very fact that these “Rozgar Melas” were organised, according to RTI applicants raised several doubts – first if the Government of Gujarat had succeeded in curbing unemployment rate, what was the need for organising such a ‘Mela’ that would give 65,000 jobs in the year the state was scheduled to for assembly polls? Secondly, the CM himself was present, but misinformation and manipulation of data remain – how does that talk about efficient, people oriented governance?

In April 2012, they filed a detailed RTI application to the Chief Minister office of Gujarat (CMO) and Principal Secretary, Gujarat Labour and Employment department seeking details on 18 counts.

Instead of getting collated data from the CMO or the principal secretary, Gujarat labour and employment department, which would have given a state-wide comprehensive picture, they started getting fragmented replies from each of the ‘District Employment and Training Department’ across the state.

"The Employment and Training Departments in all districts were not in sync with each other, as some provided statistics replies of the district employment or data to some of the queries, while some did not, without giving any satisfactory reason.," the applicants said.

Instead of 65,000 beneficiaries, the number of jobs provided based on information given by authorities in 23 districts, totals only to 51,587 out of that 11,172 are apprentice (30.4%). i.e. the actual figure is 40, 415 and not even 51,587. But, the names of only 32, 372 were provided.

They had sought specific information on what post, what pay and which industry and if they would be entitled to benefits under labour laws to each of them provided employment in this “Rozgar Mela”.

Again, they received no categorical reply about entitlement of benefits, saying the information would be best available with the concerned employers. While some gave details about post employed, the employee details, none gave details about the pay and other legal benefits they will get.

This most crucial information is missing and is needed for it serves as the lone benchmark to quantitatively and qualitatively assess the nature of employment being provided as well as the benefit it means to the recently employed.

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