Youth lineup for jobs in Israel as India fails to provide jobs



India is today the world’s fifth largest economy with market estimates confident that by 2027 the nation could well become the world’s third largest economy. But then what explains the queue of thousands of Indians seeking jobs in Israel? Images of young men, some holding graduate degrees, wishing to go to Israel even while the conflict rages on, presents a very different picture altogether. Is India failing to provide its youth employment opportunities or is the ever rising prices forcing Indians to risk their lives and seek a better future for themselves and their families?

After the horrific attacks by Hamas on October 7 last year, Israel has banned Palestinian workers resulting in an acute shortage of workers, especially in the construction sector. India is one of the countries that Israel has turned to in these times to meet this shortage. It is expected that in the coming months some 10,000 to 20,000 workers from India will head to Israel. Advertisements have already appeared in newspapers in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh calling on Indians to apply for these jobs. The salaries of $1,400 to $1700 seem extremely lucrative from an Indian viewpoint.

India’s job crisis is more serious than perceived. While the upper section of India’s middle class and the rich are getting richer as the economy booms, the informal economy where most people work without the comfort of contracts or medical insurance, suffer. There are simply no jobs or not enough jobs, even for those who hold decent graduate degrees. The proof lies in the crowds lining up to secure jobs as a mason or a carpenter in Israel, even if that risks losing one’s life.

The lockdown during Covid 2020 worsened the situation with many businesses shutting shop. Government jobs are far too few and the country today has the world’s largest youth population. Providing them jobs has to be a government priority before it gets too late and this section of the population becomes a problem.

India is also witnessing a mass exodus to countries like Canada, Italy, United Kingdom, United States, or any other place where they can manage decent wages to send back home to pay for their kids’ education and other basic needs. Most of these people try to enter foreign countries through the illegal route where they end up paying hefty amounts to agents who promise to smuggle them to Europe and other countries for jobs.

Israel is now the latest destination. The ongoing conflict in the region is the least worry for those who fear a far worse life and death by lack of resources. According to the State of Working India report by the Azim Premji University, there has been a rise in salaried jobs in the last two decades but the pace of regular wage jobs has stagnated since 2019 because of the pandemic and an overall growth slowdown. The report pointed out that while unemployment is reducing, it is still high — above 15 per cent for university graduates of all ages and around 42 per cent for graduates under 25.

As far as India is concerned, this should be the real worry. The government has been focussed on investing in multi-crore infrastructure projects which then serve to showcase India’s growth story and also attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). But if India’s growth story fails to take the youth along, it can hardly be called a success.

In India, the challenges are huge because even while the economy is doing very well and sections of the society are getting richer, those in the informal economy see no real benefits trickling down. The poor and marginalised people of India don’t have a strong voice, and their concerns are usually lost in this story of a rising and shining India. But as young people stand in the biting cold for jobs in a war-zone, and agents across the country mint money as they lure young people through the illegal route to greener pastures, India’s policy makers need to do a quick re-think. And the longer it takes to absorb the youth into the economy, the greater India runs the risk of social tensions, amid rising inequality. – The writer is Executive Editor of


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