The panchayat building at Maindvas, 60 kilometers from Jaipur, slowly filled up. A gram sabha, or village meeting, was scheduled that afternoon. The panchayat secretary was at the head of the round table. To his right, sat three women ward representatives, their faces covered in ghoonghat. Three young men dressed in shirts and trousers, one of whom held a folder of documents, sat in a corner. They were the focus of the day's meeting.
Rajasthan Livelihood Development Corporation has asked all panchayats to hold meetings to identify high school graduates between the age of 15-35 years who are unemployed. They will be trained for 90 days in a skill of their choice, and will be helped with job placements.
The panchayat representatives of Maindvas had made a list of 60 young people in the village. That day, only 11 had turned up for the meeting. Most others had already moved to the cities to look for jobs.
Rajesh Berwa, the young man with the documents folder, said he got his Bachelor of Arts degree in 2008 but has not been able to land up a good job. He spends a few months every year working as a helper at under-construction buildings. “An ideal job would be one in a private limited company, or a permanent job in the government,” he said, as he waited to find out what the government had in store for him.
But as Berwa pored over the list of 15 options of skills he could train in, his hopes of a career-lift seemed to dim a bit. “Information Technology sounds good but will they only train those who already have a ITI (Industrial Training Institute) degree?” he wondered. “Nursing or medical too would be good, but I have a BA, not a science degree. For Electronics, I think, they will ask for an engineering diploma,” he said, sounding more and more despondent.
Finally, after a few more minutes of pondering, Berwa zeroed in on one option. “Perhaps I could apply to train to become a security guard, or security supervisor.”
Sitting next to Rajesh Berwa was Mukesh Berwa who had a Bachelor of Education degree from a teachers' training institute near Maindvas. He said he was unemployed. “I taught briefly at a private school but they paid only Rs 2,000 monthly which did not even cover my fuel expenses in commuting to the school.”
In Maindvas, farmers grow crops of wheat, moong dal and gram every year. But it hasn't rained even once since August. The village is experiencing one of the worst droughts in recent years.
Rajesh Berwa, the arts graduate, said like most farmers in Maindvas, his family too is under tremendous stress. “I will wait a day in case they declare the results of filling forms in this skill scheme. Otherwise, I will go to Jaipur to look for work in construction.”