I understand that most people and, certainly, most parents in Nagaland prefer their children and relatives to acquire government jobs and become bureaucrats. But what are the societal implications of such beliefs and way of securing one’s daily bread. The problem is because most of us exclusively consign ourselves thinking about our own well-being, which is quite reasonable for people to do so, and not others, we refrain from asking ourselves unsettling questions that disturb our peace of mind and we even avoid thinking about the implications of our actions on the society.
We generally tend to view society and government as a treasure chest to be looted and exploited, similar to how local business operators see tourists: money. But what are the consequences when we prioritize government jobs? Such questions make us realize that we’ve increasingly become a one-dimensional society focusing only on government bureaucracy and our dependence on it; while on the other hand neglecting other more fruitful avenues of genuine employment, progress, and development.
Nagaland, at present, is suffering from “bureaucratic feudalism” a term coined by a historian of science to emphasize why China, despite its rich history and culture, failed to save itself from the Western colonial powers as almost all the brightest Chinese youths had their ambitions on becoming bureaucrats that ultimately led them to neglect science, modernization, reforms, and innovation. Similarly, most of the brightest students in Nagaland are only focused on becoming government bureaucrats. What a waste of talent; talents which these bright students can use to invent, innovate, and through private enterprise reform and contribute to the progress of the society. It is no wonder that the majority of students in Nagaland, in a one-dimensional manner, go for the arts stream, rather than the natural sciences-which are more or less neglected.
The education system (that is, syllabi, teachers, and the institutions themselves) in Nagaland is geared to supply this one-dimensional demand for civil service exams: the golden rule being mindless and monotonous memorization of vast subjects and disciplines. Even those few students opting for medical science and engineering do so with the aim of becoming government bureaucrats, that is, government doctors and engineers-given the unchecked benefits and discretions they can exercise. Most of them, because people in Nagaland are practical in their outlook, show little interest in using their skills and talents to invent any useful tools and mechanisms to improve society through their own private enterprises.
Hence, we must sincerely ask, can the government of Nagaland provide jobs to all, especially the youths who graduate in tens of thousands each year? Just to give you a context, from 2016 to 2020, the number of students graduating under the Nagaland University system stands at about 38,545 (source from Nagaland University website). That is in the last five years alone. And this number EXCLUDES additional tens of thousands of students graduating from private universities in Nagaland, as well as students from the state graduating from universities and colleges across mainland India. Plus, within the next few months, another 6-8000 odd students will be graduating from the NU system alone. If we account for all of these, then this conservative number of 38,545 will increase to roundabout 50-60,000 plus, if not more.
Now for the sake of simplicity and clarity let us only limit ourselves to the NU system. Let us assume that 5,000 odd students out of 38,545 either dropped out or opted for higher degrees or have acquired government jobs-of course, I am being quite generous here, since the actual number will be far lesser than this, especially for the government sector. We are now left with 33,000 youths who did not secure a government job, nor opted for higher degrees. That is, we now have 33,000 youths who are unemployed, not because they are lazy (some are, but not all), but they, like most of us in Nagaland, are waiting for government jobs. Can the government truly accommodate these youths given the state of Nagaland now has over 2,000 plus crores in deficit and the private sector is not evolved enough to meet the aspiration of the youths?
Even if we generously assume this number (i.e. 33,000) to be stable (which it will not since this number will increase) for the next five years, from 2021-2025, then this number doubles to 66,000 and then increases to 1,00,000 by 2030-indeed, the statistical probability for this number of unemployed youths waiting for government jobs to reach close to 8-10 percent of the population is statistically high when we include students from Nagaland graduating from mainland India. And remember, we are only taking numbers from the NU system. So, you can probably imagine the magnitude of this problem when we account for students from the state graduating from universities across India. Also, keep in mind that the number of students graduating from higher educational institutions in Nagaland alone has been steadily increasing in the last five years (you only need to look at the number of students enrolled in colleges and universities). In other words, if the unemployment crisis, which is already an acute problem, is not prudently dealt with, it will in the next five to ten years produce an intense social problem with immense negative consequences.
Given this enormous challenge ahead, what needs to be done? For starters, the state government bureaucrats (including doctors, engineers, directors, and police personnel), elected members of the Nagaland legislatures, contractors, and government employees can selflessly exercise prudence in their mismanagement of public funds. This will greatly aid in the completion, construction, and proper implementation of various schemes and projects. That way basic infrastructures necessary for development are put in place. It also requires bureaucratic elites, political elites, and contractors to contribute back to society by investing the mismanaged money to create new private businesses, enterprises, industries, and inventions. Since, they along with their close associates, realistically speaking, are the only ones in the state with enough resources and money to encourage private innovation and ignite productive economic activities-instead of investing them away in mainland India or abroad.
This employment crisis further presents an opportunity for society to find ways to employ these youths in various sectors of a modern and evolving economy. When thousands and lakhs of youths are employed, it creates more wealth in society. With increased societal wealth, advancements in innovation, inventions, and enterprise transpire. And this will bring genuine societal progress and development-unlike the half-baked progress and constructions we now call development. Furthermore, society in its part needs to change the manner in which it perceives government and government bureaucracy from a treasure box filled with employment opportunities to be exploited for one’s tribesmen and family members to public servants carrying out day-to-day functioning of the government in the most proper fashion. Given that there is no shortage of qualified and able individuals from all the tribes in the society (substantiated by the number of felicitations that fill the pages in our daily newspapers) as well as qualified staff that men the state government’s offices and departments, such unemployment challenges can be skilfully addressed.
Dr. Salikyu, Dimapur, Nagaland