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In the pursuit of employment and equality: A hindsight view.

19 Oct. 2011 9:40 PM IST

In Plato’s The Republic,he suggests the highest purpose of the state is the promotion of justice, andthat the best form of state is one that pursues justice. In this context I askas to whether the government has been just in its decision making byimplementing a visionless policy which has neither benefitted the‘underprivileged’ nor has it benefitted the ‘privileged’ sections? I certainlyagree that the special recruitment drive (SRD) was molded on compassionate andgenuine economic interests of the backward tribes, but has it produced thedesired results? The nu- Naga youngsters, who are deemed to be the torchbearers of tomorrow, are today fighting among themselves due to mere lack oflegislative expertise and foresight. The proclivity of the reservation issue inNagaland has, by all means in ad nauseam,manifested into a state of perpetual contentiousness. The pandemonium whichevoked, ensuing the SRD is a corollary bereft of administrative and legislativevision. A disconnect which is beginning to simmer between young Nagas is truly amatter of grave concern. On the one hand the backward tribes has been severelytantalized with the withdrawal of the SRD, while on the other the forwardtribes along with rest continue to suffer setbacks, because the state machinerywith all its laurels and ostentatiousness has yet again failed to assess theburning issue of unemployment which seems to be the core of the problem. This is a huge concernbecause creation of good quality jobs is the most important mechanism in makingaggregate economic growth. Examples are rife of graduates and post graduateswith Engineering, Management, liberal arts and other degrees applying for jobsas salespersons, peons, drivers, typists, railway signalman because they areunable to find jobs that will exploit their special skills. It is indeed awaste of essential human resources and talent pool to find post graduates inNagaland who undertake five-days-a-week job, as kindergarten teachers,supplemented with salaries as low as 2000 a month. The reason may well besimple enough, as the system simply is not generating sufficient number of jobsthat are demanded by those with such degrees. Also one cannot forget theproverbial ‘backdoor appointments’, a hole in the employment bucket whichcontinues to ‘leak in’ instead of vice versa. The state government under thecolorful banner of ‘year of the entrepreneur’ assumes that ‘self-employment’ isthe key out of the unemployment crisis presents in itself an incomprehensibleirony. Availing bank loans for budding entrepreneurs is like looking for aneedle in the haystack. Banks, these days, have brilliantly managed to devisehardcore policies for self employed people making it the more difficult toreach the ‘take off’ stage. Also, the fluctuating political atmosphere detersthe ambitions of global marketing tycoons to set up a self sustaining market basein our home. But if employment is indeed to become a serious economic policy ofthe government, then it must partake in proactive roles and policies. Firstly,it needs to gather data at more frequent rates. It is indeed surprising thatDepartments such as the NSSO, Statistics and economics and the Census bureaufail to provide data at regular intervals (NSSO provides data every 5 years andthe census at a gap of 10 years). More regular, at the least, an annual data ofunemployed people should be made a priority to asses and plan strategies toovercome the unemployment crunch. Secondly, taking examples from south EastAsia and Nordic countries, creation of more jobs in sectors like education,health, sanitation, environment and other essential public service will surelyprove to be mutually benefiting, as all these sectors and areas solely work forthe public good which would obviously yield productive outcomes. Keeping inview the bulge in demography, the time has come to redesign our social andeconomic strategy more diligently. Getting back to theissue of underrepresentation and equality; the economic hardships faced by thepeople of eastern Nagaland is indeed truly saddening. Please allow me to ponderon a little bit on the concept of equality with my crude knowledge and understanding.The English political theorist Thomas Hobbes believes humans are naturallyequal to one another. He tells us he has observed weak humans and strong onesand has been struck by the following fact: Even the weakest of humans is capableof killing the strongest. The weak person can launch a sneak attack, wait untilthe strong person goes to sleep, creep up on a strong person from behind, usecunning and trickery, and manage somehow to kill the strong. Does this not,Hobbes asks, prove that in terms of the only thing that really matters, thatis, staying alive we are all fundamentally equal? The fact of our equality,coupled with our shared tendencies toward aggression, creates a human conditionin which each of us is vulnerable to all others. No one is safe. The strongestcan fall at the hands of the weakest. Thomas Jefferson, the primary author ofthe American Declaration of Independence,has rightly pointed out that,” having the right to life, liberty and happinessis a fundamental part of being a human being, just as much a core element ofour essence as is possessing mind, a heart, and some would say a soul”. Thus eachof us is equally human; none of us possess these rights to a greater or lesserextent than others. It is in this sense that the rights are equal. In this context, I completely agree with thequestion raised by the youths of eastern Nagaland as to, who is the governmentto deny or take away their rights because these rights are a part of very partof the human nature. But as humans, we must understand that problems cannot bean end in itself; rather the underlying questions which must be, what have youaccomplished despite these hardships? How have you succeeded despite thechallenges you’ve faced? I believe this is more significant than merelycataloging misfortunes. Ibelieve that the most urgent problem facing youth today is indifference. Thegeneral attitude about everything and anything is “Who cares? I am not thatimportant, there is nothing I can do about it.” I find this incredibly sad anddistressing. I recently discovered thisshort parable which depicts the story about an old man who goes down to the seaone morning. He notices that a young girl is reaching down and throwingstarfish into the water. Curious, he walks over to the girl and asks her whatshe is doing. She replies, “Well, the tide is awfully low, and if I don’t throwthe starfish into the water the sun will dry them out.” The old man looked ather and laughed. There were miles of shore with thousands of starfish. Thelittle girl couldn’t possibly throw all the starfish back in the sea. He toldher she wouldn’t be able to make a difference. The little girl bent downscooping up yet another starfish. She turned it over in her hand processingwhat the man had told her. Then, looking at the old man, she placed thestarfish in his hands and helped him throw it back into the sea and moved on tothe next starfish. She looked over her shoulder and said, “Well, to thatstarfish, I made a world of difference.” That day, maybe not all the starfish were saved, butthose that were, I’m sure, were very grateful. They continued living because ofthe determination of a little girl who knew that she could make a differenceand could find ways to get others involved. We must each find our starfish. Ifwe throw our stars wisely and well, the world will be blessed.

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Shanben Kithan
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