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Job Jamboree: Modi’s ‘Rozgar Mela’ in Andaman & Nicobar Islands: Employment Drive or Election Ploy?

Port Blair, Feb. 12: Prime Minister Narendra Modi remotely distributed appointment letters to recently recruited individuals of Andaman and Nicobar Islands during a ‘Rozgar Mela’ or employment fair, as confirmed by an official. The event held at Netaji Stadium here Monday saw the issuance of appointment orders to 2,721 selected candidates.

Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, Som Prakash, graced the occasion as the chief guest, accompanied by the Lieutenant Governor and Vice Chairman of Islands Development Agency, Admiral (Retd) D K Joshi, as the guest of honor. Notable attendees also included State Minister Jeetendra Singh who remotely welcomed the gathering, Andaman and Nicobar Island MP Kuldeep Rai Sharma and Chief Secretary Keshav Chandra and other dignitaries.

To ensure the participation of candidates from various regions, the administration had arranged special transportation services, including buses and ships, particularly for individuals from North, Middle, and Southern groups of Islands. Furthermore, senior officials were instructed to prioritize the allocation of ship tickets or helicopter tickets for selected candidates, facilitating their attendance at the ‘Rozgar Mela.’

The Union Minister, Som Prakash, had scheduled a three-day visit to Andaman and Nicobar Islands, commencing on February 10. During his visit, he paid homage at the Cellular Jail and participated in the ‘Rozgar Mela’ on Monday. The minister concluded his visit with a comprehensive review meeting on the Logistic Policy of the Islands.

Government jobs in the Islands serve as a beacon of hope for educated individuals seeking stable employment opportunities. However, recent trends indicate a disparity in access to these positions, with mainlanders increasingly occupying vacancies that were once predominantly filled by islanders. This shift has sparked discontent among locals, leading to protests and calls for governmental intervention.

The inception of the policy in 2006, allowing mainlanders to seek employment in government departments within the islands, marked a significant turning point. While intended to diversify the workforce and enhance efficiency, its consequences have been far-reaching. The limited number of job openings coupled with the influx of mainland applicants has created fierce competition, disadvantaging islanders in securing employment.

Furthermore, the disproportionate allocation of positions to mainlanders has exacerbated socio-economic tensions within the local community. Many islanders perceive this trend as an encroachment on their rights and opportunities for socio-economic advancement. As a result, disillusionment and frustration have mounted, manifesting in public demonstrations and appeals for redressal.

Local Journalist Razia Begum, who heads an independent digital news channel, ‘Mirror Andaman’ said, “The surge in mainlanders securing government jobs in Andaman and Nicobar Islands has stirred unrest and discontent among the local populace. The widening gap between job availability and accessibility has fueled protests and calls for corrective measures. It’s imperative for the authorities to heed these concerns and devise policies that promote inclusivity and fair employment practices. Failure to address these issues risks exacerbating social divisions and undermining the region’s stability and development.”

She added, As the Lok Sabha election nears, we anticipate increased assurances from both local and central politicians. She said, “The 3 ‘Rozgar Melas’ have drawn mixed reactions, with some expressing satisfaction over appointment orders while others protest the lack of vacancies in sectors like PST. However, cynicism looms over the timing of events like the Rozgar Mela, solar energy discussions, and the Ram Mandir issue, seen by many as political maneuvers to capture public attention. It’s widely perceived that the Modi government’s focus lies primarily on winning the election rather than addressing pressing issues. While the Rozgar Mela may provide relief to a few Islanders, thousands of youths continue to fight for their rights and jobs. The commitments by politicians are expected to persist until April, prompting scrutiny from the public.”

The mass recruitment drive in the Islands, has been met with mixed reactions. For many island youths, the opportunity to secure employment has come as a significant relief in a region where job opportunities are often limited. However, some political experts view this move as election publicity. While the event undoubtedly addresses the pressing need for employment opportunities in the islands, its timing amidst upcoming elections raises questions about its true intent. As the debate continues, the impact of these recruitment drives on both the local economy and political landscape remains to be seen.




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