Can’t let war become work for Indian youth

Can’t let war become work for Indian youth

The Russian army hornswoggling Indians to serve in combat roles in the Ukraine war while telling them they were being recruited for non-combat roles certainly merits the Centre’s attention. New Delhi has sought early discharge of some 20 recruits after they contacted the Indian embassy in Moscow, but many more remain stuck. The focus has to be on bringing them back home safely as early as possible.

Russia-Ukraine War: Service members of Ukrainian Joint Assault Brigade Fury fire a S60 cannon towards Russian troops near the front-line town of Bakhmut.(Reuters)

That said, an apple farmer, an out-of-work graduate, and a former airline-catering employee, among several others, rushing for jobs in a conflict zone points to a deeper problem — the lack of jobs that pay competitive salaries. The unemployment rate stood at a high 8% at the end of February, as per data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy. Read against the impressive Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth showing, this raises jobless-growth concerns. Rural wages have stagnated, as farm growth has been anaemic. Such factors are leading to desperate choices, reflected in the willingness to join a war, albeit in supposedly non-combat roles. Spurring job creation needs a clutch of fixes, including the implementation of liberalised labour Codes.

An immediate step to prevent such recruitment, though, is stricter enforcement of the Emigration Act, under which agents recruiting Indians for work overseas must register with the Protector General of Emigrants. Also important is to relook at the exemption criteria for ECNR (Emigration Check Not Required) status: Anyone who has passed matriculation is eligible for ECNR exemption. This is simply not enough given how even jobless graduates sought the Russian military gig.

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