High growth, high inflation, no jobs . . .
South Asian economies enter 2022 with a contradiction: despite beating growth predictions, they face rising inequality, rampant inflation, and unabated unemployment. Pakistan saw 5.37 per cent growth in the last two years, beating forecasts by nearly 1.5 per cent. But the country suffers from the highest inflation in the region, at more than 11 per cent. And the government faces intense scrutiny over its recent mini-budget designed to meet conditions for an International Monetary Fund program, but which mainly increases taxes on the poor. Bangladesh’s economic growth is expected to be 7.2 per cent this year, but the International Labour Organization estimates around 3.6 million Bangladeshis will remain unemployed. This is more than half a million greater than pre-pandemic figures, with youth feeling the sharpest effects.
Torched rail cars illustrate India’s paradox . . .
The jobs crisis in India has led to what one newspaper called the country’s “first large-scale unemployment riots.” In the northern states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, unemployed youth blocked railways and set fire to trains in protest of changes to the recruitment process for highly coveted government railway jobs. The protests are indicative of a nationwide epidemic of joblessness that saw 53 million unemployed in December. Again, youth bear the brunt of this crisis, with fears that pandemic disruptions in education will set back future generations even further. The Indian government tabled its 2022 budget today with a GDP growth estimate of 9.2 per cent, but critics say it lacks targeted solutions for unemployment.
Desperation leads to Canada . . .
Economic woes are driving many South Asians, particularly young Indians, to North America in search of jobs. Canada has become a prized destination. Last week, four frozen bodies discovered near the Canada-U.S. border were revealed to be those of a young Indian family from Gujarat, likely victims of human trafficking, travelling to the United States via Canada. Canadian, American, and Indian officials are collaborating on the case, which has resulted in the arrest of one American man. The tragedy is representative of a broader migration trend from South Asia to Canada, as young people – even middle-class families – pursue informal pathways to jobs and visas.
- The Globe and Mail: India’s youths eye Canada amid jobs crisis at home
- The New York Times: India schools stay closed, and hopes fade for a lost generation
- The Print: ‘Feel like tearing my books, going home’ — the deep despair behind Bihar’s railway jobs protest