In my field work across small-town India, one of the most glaring things that stands out to me is the high rate of unemployment. As I traveled to town after town during the 2018 Madhya Pradesh state elections, one sight had become eerily familiar to me: hordes of young and middle-aged people, mostly men, spending their time at public squares, seemingly unemployed and disengaged from economic activity.
Therefore, the last two years I have spent essentially camped out in India’s small towns and cities have fundamentally challenged my assumptions on the advertised benefits of liberalization. One of the most common questions that I grappled with was: how is unemployment so high if liberalization was the silver bullet it has been made out to be?
In my long-form essay for Mint, I uncover the flip side to India’s liberalization for older millennials, who were born between 1981 and 1985.