The Board and Council examination results may at last be out, but our students and youth are suffering due to lack of activity and competition as Covid-19 continues to retain its chokehold. Due to lockdowns and curfew restrictions, the students and youth are forced to remain indoors with nothing but chats over the mobile and internet games to pass their time. The level of frustration over lack of activity is rising day by day and it is waiting to explode. However, we should not be bogged down by this situation and we cannot afford to lose our hope or imagination. We must endeavour to find the light at the end of the tunnel. Lakhs of Manipuri youth including those who had to return home leaving their jobs behind are now looking to the government for creating job opportunities. We had earlier talked about setting up a Job Commission or Employment Opportunities Commission in the state to rethink a new strategy for increasing employment opportunities in view of the massive job loss and layoffs right here in the state caused by the COVID-19 outbreak and consequent lockdowns in various forms. The returnees had gone looking for jobs outside the state, due to lack of job opportunities here. So right now, we are facing an employment crisis, which we need to solve at the earliest before it blows up in our faces. Many of them must be facing difficult situations including psychological problems which may lead to depression. Their continued unemployment and lack of employment opportunities in the near future would certainly develop into a major problem for the state, unless we begin charting our responses in time.
To chart a strategy, we must take into account a reality that the pandemic Covid 19 may be with us for a long time to come. Data available indicates that besides the students, the returnees were earlier employed in different sectors such as restaurants and hotels, private companies, retail, health care, salon and parlours, BPOs, airlines, private banks, among others. The number of returnees alone is more than 50 thousand as of now. Add to this, thousands of people in the private and unorganised sector of the state who had to face lay-offs due to Covid 19.As asserted earlier, our richest resource is human, educated and skilled. Only a few states in the country have such a resource base. Our skilled youths had gone beyond the state as the state was very much lacking in job opportunities. Now, it has become the state’s responsibility to create opportunities here. Bureaucrats alone would not be enough to rethink such a strategy. We need to involve experts and adopt a multi-disciplinary approach.
We all have seen, what problems entail job crisis and massive unemployment scenarios in the society in general. So, let us not wait for the situation to explode. The government must start learning to pre-empt possible scenarios to chart strategies. Besides, we should also explore the possibilities of introducing unemployment allowances or social security benefits, as an immediate measure to ward off discontent among the jobless population.A suggestion would be to re-invent the Start-Up policy to suit the new scenarios of unemployment. The previous Start-Up policy and its implementation had all the makings of a plan made in a hurry without considering the outcomes, besides undermining the talent and innovation of our youth. This has to be rectified and a new policy framed by widening the canvas. For that, let us begin by believing in our youth, in their enormous energy and innovative ideas. Push them in the river, and they will come up with a fish in hand. But, it is the ultimate responsibility of the state to create opportunities and avenues for innovative ideas to grow.