The Union government will have to budget about Rs 4,500 crore per month for the 10 lakh jobs it has promised in mission mode over the next 18 months. Every year, it will cost the state treasury around Rs 54,000 crore.
These are almost entirely vacancies or positions that have remained vacant in recent years due to a generally slow and complex recruitment process, legal interventions and, more recently, the Covid-19 pandemic.
A government source said that 90% or more of these jobs or vacancies were in the Group C category comprising clerks, peons and semi-skilled workers. The cost to the government for a new Group C employee is around Rs 40,000 per month.
Sources within government said that while it is not easy to undertake such large-scale recruitment in a short period of 18 months, the biggest challenge will be post-recruitment training and induction, and subsequent promotions. “Such a one-time hire means all of these employees will be eligible for promotion together,” a source said.
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An analysis of official government data shows that there were 8.72 lakh vacancies in 77 ministries/departments as of March 1, 2020. Of these, only five ministries or departments – Defense (Civil), Railways, Business Interior, Posts and Revenues – accounted for 90 percent.
Data shared by Jitendra Singh, Minister of State in the Ministry of Personnel, Public Claims and Pensions, to the Lok Sabha on March 30, 2020, shows that 31.32 lakh regular government employees were stationed in 77 ministries/departments against the sanctioned strength of 40.04 lakh employees as of March 1, 2020.
Among the 77 ministries/departments, the largest number of vacancies – 2.47 lakh are in Defense (Civil), followed by Railways (2.37 lakh), Home Affairs (1.28 lakh), posts (90,050) and income (76,327).
An analysis by cluster of vacancies shows that the maximum 7.56 lakh – or 86.69% – of the 8.72 lakh vacancies were in cluster C (unpublished). Group C employees perform “supervisory duties as well as operational duties and provide clerical assistance in line ministries and organizations”. After the recommendations of the Sixth Wage Commission, the former Group D positions, intended for the performance of routine duties, were merged into Group C.
Data shows a maximum of Group C (unlisted) positions were vacant in the railways
The data shows that 78,045 vacancies were in Group B (unlisted) and 85% of them were in five departments: Defense (Civil), Revenue, Home Affairs, Mining and Science and Technology.
The number of vacancies in Group A positions, which “assume higher administrative and executive responsibilities and include leadership positions in ministries/departments and organizations in the field”, was reported at 21,255 as of March 1. 2020. The maximum number of Group A vacancies were in Revenue (3,973 positions), followed by Home Affairs (3,890), (Civil) Defense (3,480), Mining (1,611) and railways (1,069).
The announcement came at a time when the unemployment rate for young people (aged 15-29) in urban areas has hovered above 20% in recent quarters, and the economic distress induced by Covid-19 has hurt millions of workers across the country.
While the number of vacancies has increased in recent years, recruitment has not accelerated. According to the information shared by Minister Jitendra Singh, the Personnel Selection Commission (SSC) and the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) have advertised 1,85,734 and 27,764 posts respectively and recruited 1,74,744 and 24 836 applicants, respectively over the five years between 2017-18 and 2021-22.
Correction: In an earlier version of this report, the total cost to the government of employing 10 lakh people was erroneously mentioned as Rs 4,500 crore per year. This should be Rs 4,500 crore per month, or Rs 54,000 crore per year. The error is regrettable.