On the occasion of Narendra Modi’s 70th birthday, Twitter users took upon themselves to remind the prime minister of the growing joblessness and acute economic crisis that the country is facing. Several individuals and political parties simultaneously launched a social media campaign and the day was soon called “National Unemployment Day” on social media. Hashtags like ‘#17Sept17Hrs17Minutes’, ‘#राष्ट्रीयबेरोजगारदिवस’ and ‘#NationalUnemploymentDay’ have been trending on Twitter since morning. These hashtags are part of a protest campaign against the government’s failure to provide employment. At the time of publishing, the hashtag #राष्ट्रीय_बेरोजगारी_दिवस (or national unemployment day) had over 1.68 million tweets.
The unemployment rate in India has been steadily decelerating and there has been a dramatic increase in the number of people losing jobs in the past quarter. According to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), since the lockdown was imposed in March, there have been significant job losses across the country, with the overall unemployment rate hitting over 23% in the last week of March 2020. There has been a recovery in recent months, but the unemployment remains higher than the pre-lockdown levels.The organisation’s recent estimate has shown that the employment situation worsened from the beginning of March 2020, before the lockdown was put in place, and then rapidly spiked in the last week of the month and the first week of April 2020. The downward trend has since continued. The National Statistical Office (NSO) report has also indicated that India’s April-June quarter GDP contracted by 23.9%, the first contraction in more than 40 years. The angst could be sensed in the memes and messaged that began to pour on Twitter since early September 17