Youth rage in railway tracktext_fields
The protest at the Rajendra Nagar terminal in Patna, the capital of Bihar, against the negligence and non-transparency of the Central Railway Recruitment Board (RRB) on Monday has escalated into a major agitation. As the country celebrated Republic Day, Bihar was literally on fire. Protesters 'captured' railway stations in Arra, Nalanda, Nawada and Gaya, disrupting train services for hours. The other day, there were incidents of violence by protesters at some point, including the burning of an unmanned train parked at Gaya station. On the other hand, various cities in Bihar also witnessed police running amok with guns and rods. Hundreds were reportedly arrested. In recent days, the strike also spread to Uttar Pradesh. There too, protesters and police clashed. Opposition parties in UP have seized on this as a new campaign theme for the forthcoming Assembly elections in the coming weeks. Leaders including Priyanka Gandhi have already come out in solidarity with the protesters.
This is how a small strike that started by less than 100 candidates evolved. The reason for this agitation is that the candidates who passed the examination conducted by the Recruitment Board for the Non-Technical Popular category were asked to appear for the examination again. The candidates claim that once it was declared as a 'single exam' in the 2019 notification, it is suspicious to conduct the second phase examination without any notice. They also allege that the board's move was to recruit by stealth those close to the higher ups. About 60 lakh candidates appeared for the examination which was held for 35,000 posts in Level Two to Six categories. The Recruitment Board conducted a preliminary screening and shortlisted candidates almost twice as many posts. The results of the 2020 exam were released last month. The board came up with the idea of an unheard of 'second phase examination' while awaiting further steps related to recruitment. It is only natural that this should provoke and frustrate millions of job seekers. That was reflected in various centres in UP and Bihar for six days. The Ministry of Railways, which was involved in the matter, has proposed to temporarily suspend the 'second examination'. The Ministry has appointed a special committee to study the issue and look into the complaints.
The strike was supposed to end when the demands of the protesters were accepted. But the opposite happened. The struggle is gaining momentum; more and more young people are flocking to each protest centre. Therefore, it is clear that this is not a mere strike against the corruption and partisan attitude of the Railway Recruitment Board. Note that it is the youth who are insecure in situation of unemployment who are flocking to the protest ranks. The slogans accompanied by the national anthem heard from there confirm this. It would be a wonder if such an agitation did not take place when the country was going through the biggest unemployment in the last 45 years. In 2017, the unemployment rate was 4.7 percent. It is now close to eight per cent. In one year alone, there has been an increase of one and a half per cent. Today, no one can deny that the Modi government's misguided economic 'reform' program has brought the country into this predicament. It is the experience of every Indian as to how the note ban and the GST rollout have broken the back of the common man. Various agencies have also testified that these reversal of economic policies has led to starvation and unparalleled unemployment in the country.
Of course, the epidemic and the lockdown have accelerated this crisis. The Centre claims that there was a slight economic growth when the Delta spread subsided. However, there was no proposal from the government to curb unemployment. It is a natural reflection of youth rage over all this that is in display on the railway tracks. Therefore, it is no coincidence that the strike broke out in Bihar, which has the highest unemployment rate in the country. Of particular note is the fact that UP, next in the unemployment list, is another centre of agitation. If this protest of the educated unemployed spreads to more places, it is likely to turn into another popular movement like the anti-CAA agitation or the peasant agitation. If that happens then it will not be easy for the government to rein in such a situation. This century has witnessed more than one instance of dictators kneeling before restless youth when they took to the streets due to the economic recession and unemployment.