What do you do when you can’t keep your promise of providing employment to the idle youth of the country? You assert that a person selling pakoras and earning Rs 200 a day is also employed.
During a recent interview with a news channel, on being asked about inadequate job creation in the last four years, the prime minister had said that a person selling pakodas outside their (channel’s) television studio and earning Rs 200 a day should also be perceived as ’employed’. This statement, which was further reinstated by President of BJP Amit Shah, has, obviously, not been taken too well by the nation.
A few days back, Mumbai Congress President Sanjay Nirupam had announced a unique ‘pakora’ agitation for Thursday when educated or highly qualified unemployed youth would set up a stall to fry and sell ‘pakoras’ outside Mantralaya. However, the plan was foiled by the Mumbai Police when Nirupam and several other party activists were detained and stopped from proceeding towards Mantralaya. Nirupam, attacking the Bharatiya Janata Party, called this move “unconstitutional” and a denial of his “fundamental rights”.
In another protest, Aam Aadami Party (AAP) activists prepared pakoras in front of Gandhi Park in New Delhi and distributed them among the people. Speaking on the occasion, district President, Uma Sisodiya called Modi’s statement ” most unfortunate” and added that the unemployed youth had voted BJP to power hoping for jobs that Modi had promised. “Now the same person asking them to sell pakoras to earn money amounts to a cruel joke played on them,” she said.
Bengaluru too saw it’s share of resistance when Modi visited the city on 4th February, 2018. A group of students donned degree robes and began selling pakoras to passers-by, mocking Modi’s statement about selling pakoras and job creation. The students appeared near Mehkri Circle, a few metres away from Palace Ground where PM Modi was set to address a rally. However, they were soon taken into custody by the Police, hours before Modi’s speech.
PM Modi’s comment was a celebration of the success of his MUDRA scheme. But should such meagre income be considered a success? No. Instead of celebrating, it should be seen as a sign of under-employment (something that was chalked out as a major concern of the country by Niti Aayog in its three-year action plan released in August 2017). Some will argue that earning 200 bucks a day is much better than being completely unemployed and penniless. Some will point out at Modi was trying to bring about the distinction between self-employment and being employed-by-someone-else through the pakora metaphor. But at the end of the day, if I ask you, is selling pakoras by the road idealistic for you? Is it something you dreamt of doing, is it attaining your full potential?
If selling pakoras is seen as acche din then, we had acche din even during the Congress Government’s tenure. It’s time BJP accepts it’s failure on the employment front instead of trying to camouflage it with such thinly veiled arguments.