It was PM Modi’s birthday on 17 September 2020 as he turned 70. A major section on Twitter has appreciated PM Narendra Modi for allegedly flattening the COVID-19 curve across the country. They also lauded him managing the India-China situation. On the contrary, netizens on Twitter trended September 17 as National Unemployment Day which went viral. Twitter users staged an online protest to remind the prime minister of the growing job losses, unemployment and acute economic crisis in the nation.
The Seva Saptah
BJP launched a week-long celebration in the name of ‘Seva Saptah’ from Sept 14-20 in honour of PM Narendra Modi’s birthday. Recently, WHO also praised PM Modi’s quick and tough decisions in view of the coronavirus and said that India is in a better position than other developed nations.
A look at the reports
According to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), since the lockdown imposed in March, there have been significant job losses across the country. This is in view with the overall unemployment rate hitting over 23% in the last week of March 2020. There has been a slight recovery in recent months, but the unemployment rate remains higher than the pre-lockdown levels.
The organisation’s recent report reflects that the employment situation got worse from the beginning of March 2020, before the lockdown imposition. Moreover, it then rapidly climbed in the last week of the month and the first week of April 2020. The backward trend has since continued. The National Statistical Office (NSO) report has also pointed out that India’s April-June quarter GDP contracted by 23.9%. This is devastatingly the first contraction in more than 40 years.
An online protest
The hashtag Rashtriya Berojgar Diwas or National Unemployment Day stands as a symbol of protest against the high unemployment rates in the country. It also aims to highlight the government’s failure to create jobs and provide employment. Several people and political parties simultaneously launched a social media campaign and the day was immediately called “National Unemployment Day”. Hashtags like ‘#17Sept17Hrs17Minutes’, ‘#राष्ट्रीयबेरोजगारदिवस’ and ‘#NationalUnemploymentDay’ have been trending on Twitter since the morning of 17 September. These hashtags form a part of a protest campaign against the government’s failure to provide employment. At the time of publishing, the hashtag #राष्ट्रीय_बेरोजगारी_दिवस (or national unemployment day) had over 1.68 million tweets.
More shock on the way
Looking again at the National Statistical Office (NSO) report, India’s April-June quarter GDP got low by 23.9%. The number of jobless people is likely to grow not just because people are failing to find jobs, but also because several individuals who already have jobs will likely lose them. This tragic trend is because of the economy and unplanned lockdown imposed due to COVID-19. India’s youth has constantly been demanding reforms in SSC and other recruitment processes. Throughout the week, the youth had tried to communicate their issues and problems on Twitter.
Tweets of dissent
Sagarika Ghose writes, “6 million white collar professionals and 5 million industrial workers lost their jobs overnight between May-August. The Modi government should be haunted by these figures. #NationalUnemploymentDay.”
While Rahul Puhal tweeted, ” The youth are not fools, they can see through the empty promises.
This movement is a blessing for the Youth because they have now woken up for the first time.
@LudhianaNsui Organized a Protest on the birthday of @narendramodi
In a sarcastic manner Nitin Karn added the term ‘unemployed’ to his name. He tweeted, “
Dear @narendramodi ji I stand 3rd rank all over India in PGD in shipping management from Mumbai in 1st year but No shipping company have job for me @mansukhmandviya
I am jobless since 5 months #राष्ट्रीय_बेरोजगारी_दिवस #NationalUnemploymentDay #17Baje17Minute” https://t.co/MIQoeiLzJV