The Yogi Adityanath government went big on cow protection and welfare in its 2019 budget, allocating an unprecedented Rs 600 crore for the purpose. But the focus this year is on ensuring job opportunities for the youth, it says.
The numbers seem massive on paper. Tabled in the assembly on Tuesday, the government's 2020-21 budget comes up to Rs 5 lakh crore - an increase of Rs 33,000 crore from last year. On the job front, the government has announced an apprenticeship scheme for the unemployed that earmarks Rs 2,500 in monthly assistance for each youngster opting for job training in state industries.
It also announced the setting up of YUVA or youth hubs in each district to assist entrepreneurs, with a total of Rs 1,300 crore meant to be spent on them.
The government claims that more details on both schemes will be announced soon. "We have focused on our youth, sustainable development and the opportunity to showcase our state. There are many schemes for the youth in our state. To take them forward, we are targeting unemployed youth and starting an apprenticeship scheme. On the other hand, we are setting up YUVA hubs in all districts. This is the youth focus of our budget," Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said in a post-budget press conference.
The opposition, however, dismissed the government's announcements as mere posturing. "The youth of Uttar Pradesh had hoped for employment opportunities. But this is just not happening... For instance, only the education department has two lakh vacancies that the government has been unable to fill," Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav said in a press conference later that day.
On the ground, the unemployment numbers are not so flattering. In an address to the state assembly in 2017, a minister in the Yogi Adityanath cabinet had pegged the number of unemployed people registered on a state government portal at over 17 lakh. This month, the same minister told the assembly that the number of unemployed people in the state has touched 34 lakh, a massive 100 per cent increase in less than just three years.
Sanjeev Kumar Yadav, a 26-year-old man who spends his time hanging around a Lucknow tea stall for lack of a job, said he expects the Yogi Adityanath government to do much more to create jobs. "One cannot find new opportunities on the ground. While the employment-generation measures announced in the budget are supposed to give us some hope, I do not see this government taking any concrete steps in this direction. I would like to request the Yogi Adityanath government to speed up recruitment for whatever new jobs come up," he told NDTV.