Unemployment in India has become a serious issue since November 2016, when the Modi government announced demonetisation that immediately resulted in millions of the workforce becoming jobless due to shutting down of millions of enterprises and scaling down of production by million others to even 25 per cent. Moreover, by early 2018, it reached a 45-year high, and now highest in five decades. What is most disturbing phenomenon is that the joblessness is increasingly driving people to suicides and the country witnessed the highest number of suicides among the unemployed in 2020.
We don’t have further government records of suicide publicly available, but one can easily find news in the media regarding suicides due to joblessness, which is sounding the alarm bell louder than ever before. However, the question is if the alarming sound is reaching the deaf ear of the Modi government? Can the alarming sound be able to awake the government seemingly in deep sleep in spite of their awareness about such suicides which has been revealed in the Rajya Sabha by none less than the Union Minister of State for Home?
The written reply of Nityanand Rai shocked the nation who disclosed citing the latest National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data for the year 2020 that 3,548 people died by suicide due to unemployment. The total number of suicides that year was 1.53 lakh, up from 1.39 lakh in 2019.
It should not be out of place to mention here that 2020 was the year when our Prime Minister Narendra Modi had given four days time to the people of the country for beating the utensils or ringing the bell, or light the lamps, and several days for even switching off the lights to drive Corona away, but gave only four hours time after which the country was to be shut down without preparation, bringing the economy to a grinding halt. We had then witnessed chaos and the most infamous exodus of migrant workers to their homes on foot with their females and children, without food, and with no hope of finding any on the way due to lockdown.
However, the Union government had full knowledge about suicides due to joblessness which they cannot deny. Presently, they are trying to shift blame for the suicides on the Covid-19. But on whom will they shift the blame for increasing suicides before the pandemic struck the country?
NCRB data reveals that suicide due to unemployment has been increasing over the last few years, ever since Modi government took the reins of the country in 2014, the year when such suicides were 2,207. In 2015 it rose to 2,723 and suddenly dropped to 2,298 in 2016 which was still higher than the 2014 level. However, after 2016 it has always been rising. In 2017 total number of persons committed suicides due to unemployment rose to 2,404, which even increased to 2,741 in 2018 and 2,851 in 2019.
Apart from unemployment as a cause of suicides, bankruptcy or indebtedness are the top associated causes. In his reply the Minister of State for Home said that between 2018 and 2020, 16,091 died by suicide due to bankruptcy or indebtedness. (IPA Service)