What they don’t want you to know: youth protests against Modi government

As farmers’ protests continue to take place and meet brutal state repression, the rest of the country is also not calm and youths across the country are being seen protesting against the central government for basic issues such as employment, paper re-tests, and so forth
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In November 2023, The Hindu reported scores of people protesting for the reinstatement of the Old Pension Scheme (OPS). At Ramlila Maidan, thousands of employees and pensioners from both the Union and State governments staged a massive protest. The demonstrators had warned of an indefinite strike if their demand was not met. This was the fourth such rally in the nation’s capital, Delhi, after the months prior to the protests had seen the demand raised strongly. The reports stated that the Congress and various Opposition parties have both pledged to restore the OPS at both State and Central levels if they are in power after the upcoming elections.  Similarly, in Gujarat this week ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s impending visit to the state, the Free Press Journal reported that a large number of government employees, which includes teachers, have started protests similarly calling for the reinstatement of the OPS. The protests took place at the Satyagrah camp in Gandhinagar.

The Old Pension Scheme was designed to guarantee lifelong support for government employees post-retirement. Employees did not contribute to the fund.  However in the new scheme, retirees get a pension based on a specific formula which is equal to 50% of their final salary before retirement. In December 2023, the Finance Minister had reportedly stated that there were no plans to revert to the OPS.  However, several state government have tried to accommodate employees under the OPS this year, including Karnataka, Sikkim. Kerala is slated to make a revised pension scheme for the OPS.

Similarly, youth in Lucknow and Prayagraj were seen protesting after an exam for recruitment of police constables in the state saw a paper leak. The examination board had at first rejected the claims of the paper leak, however, after the date of the slated exam, the Uttar Pradesh government announced that they were cancelling the examination and a new one would be taking place six months from the date of the last examination.

Similarly, in Bhopal the youth congress took to protest on February 14, 2024, against the Modi government for the lack of jobs and rising unemployment in the state. Addressing the same question of unemployment, Congress’s Priyanka Gandhi Vadra spoke on the question of unemployment at a Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra rally in UP’s Aligarh, and stated, “BJP has been in power for 10 years. Many big events such as the G20 Summit took place, everyone said that the respect of the country is increasing due to such events, even we agree to it, but I want to ask, is the respect of the country not connected with the young, our policemen, and students? There are no jobs for the youth, farmers are still sitting on roads, inflation is a burden for the people of the country.”

Similarly, The Wire reported youth protests in Rajasthan after the termination of the Rajiv Gandhi Yuva Mitra Internship scheme by the Rajasthan government. The 4,000 people who were actively involved in the program protested as they had reportedly lost their monthly income after the scheme was reportedly terminated. They stated that the government can rebrand and rename the scheme but cannot stop it as it was resulting in the loss of their monthly income. The BJP has argued that the scheme was used by the Congress to promote its own ideology, according to The Wire.



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