India's Modi promises 1 mln government jobs as elections loom

NEW DELHI, Oct 20 (Reuters) - Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's office said on Thursday he would launch a drive this weekend to give government jobs to 1 million people, starting with 75,000 immediate appointments, as he tries to tackle criticism of widespread unemployment.

Joblessness in the country of 1.4 billion people has stayed around 7% for months - something that the opposition has regularly pointed out in the run-up to elections in several states starting next month.

Modi's office said the 75,000 new recruits would join 38 ministries or departments of the federal government at various levels of seniority.

"As per the directions of the prime minister, all ministries and departments are working towards filling up existing vacancies against sanctioned posts in mission mode," it said.

It was not immediately clear if it meant there were 1 million vacancies in government departments, or if some jobs would be created.

The aim is to fill up the posts by September next year, Modi said in June on Twitter.

India's unemployment peaked at 23.5% in 2020 in the first full year of COVID-19, then fell back as restrictions eased. But it has remained around 7% since, according to data from Mumbai-based the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, higher than the global average.

Modi stormed to power in 2014 promising to create millions of jobs, but the economy has not grown fast enough to accommodate some 12 million people joining the labour force each year, a number that is rising.

Writing by Krishna N. Das; Editing by Andrew Heavens

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