Indian railways, Railway coolies, India rail porters, coolies
Porters rest in front of the Kalka Mail passenger train at a railway station in the old quarters of Delhi March 20, 2012 [Representational Image].Reuters

The Indian railways has received over 1.9 crore applications for the Railway Recruitment Board (RRB) examination to fill 62,907 vacancies at 'Level 1', earlier called 'Group D'. The numbers are huge as it would mean 302 applicants would fight for every job. 'Level 1' jobs are the lowest level jobs in railways which include posts like gangman (those who maintain tracks), gateman, pointsman, helper in electrical/mechanical/engineering/ signal/telecommunications, porter etc.

Minimum qualification notified for these vacancies is class 10th or certificate from the National Council on Vocational Training or Industrial Training Institutes, or National Apprenticeship Certificates. The Print has reported that a majority of the applicants for these jobs are graduates, post-graduates and engineers.

This is not the first time that people having technical degrees are applying for such low qualification-required jobs. The exam held by Railways Recruitment Board (RRB) on 31st August for 1.27 lakh posts also witnessed a huge number of overqualified people applying for the job.

The numbers are a clear indication of the dearth of jobs in Indian economy. The issue was one of the major pre-poll issues before the 2014 elections, where the Prime Minister had promised 2 crore jobs per year. Different departments of the governments have claimed that 31.1 lakh jobs were added to the economy between September 2017 and February 2018 but researchers like the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) argued that the figure was merely around 18 lakhs.

In the language of the economy, this trend is termed 'forced employment', because there are no jobs available for certain qualifications. People tend to take a job not based on their qualification but on the basis of their need.

People cross a railway track in front of an arriving train on a foggy winter morning in Allahabad in this November 30, 2016, file photo. REUTERS/Jitendra Prakash

Economist Prasenjit Bose said, "While the private/corporate sector has not been in the pink of health for many years, the proportion of government jobs is also shrinking. There is no expansion of jobs offering proper employment contract, proper pay, and social security,"

He also added that "the government has claimed to have delivered high growth, but the growth has slowed down. With demonetization, the commercial sector has been squeezed and has received a huge blow. In terms of jobs, we are heading towards disaster. There is no proper data available in terms of employment and unemployment because our employment cell is in a mess."