SONIPAT: It has been two years since Mohit Malik, 23, has been out of college. A graduate in political science from Delhi University, Mohit helps his family with farming now. He is also on the lookout for an office job.
“I wanted to work in Delhi but the pay I was offered was very low with regard to the expenses I would have had to incur staying in such a big city. I returned to my native willing to work even for low wages but no company here wants to hire,” Mohit, who lives at Kheri Mana village in Sonipat added.
Post demonitisation, many firms had to close down leading to acute unemployment in the region, the youth said, and added, “Since Sonipat is near to Delhi, many people from the national capital are employed here, leaving no or just menial jobs for us locals.”
Narendar from Joshi Jat village alleged government officers demand bribes from people seeking jobs in government departments. “Jiske paas paisa ho wo job khareed leta hai (those who have money give bribe and secure jobs). Though the number is less, those who have studied in good colleges also get jobs,” he added.
Sumit Tanwar, another resident from the same village noted that most youth are either joining their families in agriculture or else trying their hand in some sport. “Being an athlete is the second most accessible profession here as Sonipat is home to many prominent sportspersons,” he mentioned.
However some residents of Sonipat have a different take on the unemployment crisis. The youth are not encouraged to pursue further studies after graduation or motivated to make career goals, they opined.
In this election season, another topic that interests the residents of Sonipat is nationalism.
“Pakistan ko Modi ne karara jawab diya hai, jawano ne ghuske maara hai. Kya Congress ne kiya thaa? (Modi gave a befitting reply to Pakistan. Army entered their territory to kill them. Did Congress do anything like that?)” was Ram Gopal Chauhan’s first reaction when asked his view on politics.
Even before this reporter could pose another question, Ram Gopal, 55, a resident of Sonipat’s Aterna village added nothing is more important for a nation than its security. “It was necessary to avenge the death of 40 CRPF troopers in Pulwama. Had he (Modi) not reacted, we would have lost hope in him. Pakistan has always encouraged terrorism but in these five years, Modi gave befitting replies,” he added.
Surrounding him were three more men who were playing some games in the afternoon sun. When asked about the issues they faced in the village, they claimed the government had failed to provide basic facilities, but had initiated a few significant developments in the region.
“Five years is not time enough to bring about major changes. Four years ago, our area got its first primary school. We are also availing benefits of several government schemes, especially the Ujjwala scheme,” mentioned Jitesh Singh, 48, a farmer in the same village.
The Pulwama attack and subsequent air strikes in Pakistan seemed to have high resonance among voters in the non-Jat villages in Sonepat constituency.
“The previous government lacked strong strategies on national security. However, the Modi government always took immediate action. Many terrorists were killed in Kashmir as well,” said 25-year-old Pravesh Khattar, an unemployed Rathdana village resident.
However, Jat villages chose to not harp on the nationalism narrative. In Sisana village, predominantly the hub of Dahiya community, the residents said the BJP was playing the nationalism card to divert the attention of voters from severe issues plaguing the country.
“We do have access to news. Why couldn’t the Centre provide the number of terrorists killed during India’s air strike after the Pulwama attack? Politicians should realise that voters cannot be swayed anymore by faking news,” mentioned 61 year old Ram Kala Dahiya, a farmer.
‘Not encouraged to have career goals’
The youth are not encouraged to pursue further studies after graduation or motivated to make career goals, some residents of Sonipat opined.“Government staff or employees in good private companies persuade their children to take academics seriously. Others take little interest in education. Here, many families have large land assets. They sell some portions to the government and the proceeds from the deals allow the youth in these families to sit idle,” said a government employee on condition of anonymity.