October 16, 2019
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Thousands of young Indians denounce high unemployment ahead of April polls

New Delhi, Feb 7 (efe-epa).- Thousands of young people, including university students, took to the streets of India's capital New Delhi on Thursday to protest against rising unemployment, ahead of general elections scheduled for April.

The demonstrators denounced the rise in unemployment across the country, and urged that the elections focus not on "religion or caste" but on workers' demands and rights, Sunny Singh, spokesperson of Disha Students Organization, one of the organizers of the protest, told EFE.

The protesters carried placards with messages such as "Immediately fill all vacant positions, increase number of government jobs" and "We want jobs, not communal mobs," in reference to people of minority ethnicities being allegedly lynched by members of far right Hindu nationalist groups.

Students also used the march to condemn the privatisation of education, Singh added.

Several youth and student organizations as well as unions were organizing a march for groups from across the country on Mar. 3, during which they will call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government to tackle unemployment and amend the constitution to make employment a "fundamental right", Singh said.

Last week, the ruling Hindu nationalist party, BJP, presented a populist budget that centered on subsidies to farmers and irregular workers in sectors that are unregulated, known in India as the unorganised sector, as well as tax benefits for the middle class, but the budget did not ease the concerns of the unemployed.

According to a National Sample Survey Office report - which was supposed to have been published in December and was leaked to the Indian newspaper Business Standard last week - the unemployment rate between Jul. 2017 and June 2018 was 6.1 percent, the highest in 45 years.

In January, thousands of people gathered in central New Delhi to protest the Indian government's labor policies and proposed reforms as part of a two-day nationwide shutdown.

Towards the end of November last year, some 15,000 Indian farm workers reached India's parliament building in New Delhi as part of a massive march calling for financial aid such as debt relief, and a special debate on the state of agricultural workers, severely hit by drought and low crop prices.

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