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A Well-Paid Job And Respect, Is It Too Much For A Student To Ask For?

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By Martand Jha:

Students are those who knock at the doors of the system to get integrated into the workforce of the country. No precise definition of who can be called a student exists. Generally, in layman’s terms, it is agreed that one who is enrolled in school, college or a university can claim himself/herself to be a student.

Since our country has a population nearing 1.3 billion, naturally the number of students is also huge, though everyone agrees that efforts should be made to make everyone educated. Education is necessary for the overall development of a person. All this looks excellent on paper and in theory but reality is quite different.

Once a person gets into the education system as a student, his/her expectations from himself/herself also rise. People around them also start having great expectations from them which includes parents, relatives, friends, teachers etc. Students don’t merely want to accumulate knowledge. What they want above all are good jobs when they complete their education. Having immense knowledge but no work means nothing in today’s cut-throat competitive world.

Yes, knowledge is important, but its value is realised only when it helps in providing financial stability in a person’s life. Today, an average Indian student, right from his/her entry into high school seems to start preparing for competitive exams rather than enjoying school life. This trend is scary and we have seen its result in the increasing cases of suicides in cities like Kota in Rajasthan which has since the past two decades become a centre of coaching for engineering and medical entrances.

The trend represents the great pressure under which a student is put into once he/she reaches high school at the age of 15 till the time he/she has a good job. Though nobody has defined what a good job is in theoretical terms because even people who get paid more than 50 thousand per month sometimes complain of not having a satisfactory job. All this is because there are very few jobs for such a large population. Here, we are not even talking about good jobs or satisfactory jobs. Besides, most of the jobs are located in the unorganised sector of the country. But a well-educated person who has just finished graduation or post-graduation would not want to work where the pay is not as per his/her potential.

In the government sector, even if one starts calculating all the jobs right from Group A category to Group D category in government services, it would probably not account for a huge percentage of overall jobs that are produced in India. As a result, people are either forced to work in those jobs which they might consider far below their standards both qualitatively and in terms of and payment.

This leads to increasing dissatisfaction both among the working class as well as students who are looking forward to getting jobs. Last year, news came from India’s most populated state Uttar Pradesh, where for a Group D service, that of a peon, in the Uttar Pradesh Secretariat, more than 23 lakh candidates applied for a mere 368 posts.

Among these 23 lakh candidates, 2.22 lakh were engineers and 255 were Ph.Ds. Thousands of candidates with master’s degrees in various subjects were also among the applicants which shows how dire the unemployment situation is in the state.

The situation is alarming. Nobody can think of working as a peon after getting a Ph.D. anywhere in the world, except in India. Today, the phenomenon of disguised unemployment is on the rise. Disguised unemployment exists where part of the labour force is either left without work or is working in a redundant manner where worker productivity is essentially zero.”

In mega cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore etc., a new trend has come up where college graduates are seen opting for driving as a profession as they can easily make more than any white collar job, had they opted for one. But, the question arises, did these people waste their years in studying hard only to work as drivers?

Here, driving is not at all thought of as a ‘menial’ job but the real question is whether the system has done justice to them? Secondly, is their choice to drive out of willingness or is it due to the compulsion of having financial stability as they were not getting well-paid jobs as per their educational standards?

This phenomenon of educated youth opting for blue collar jobs is a welcome sign as they are contributing to the economy of the country. But, on deeper analysis, one can see how it limits the potential of an individual who is better suited to do other jobs than what he/she is doing at present.

The question of skill based education has been asked for a long time now and as a result, the government of India has also started its ‘Skill India’ programme. Though one can’t be sure that this initiative will provide jobs to people as per their qualifications and capability.

Another major problem about jobs is that as a society, we have not given respect to people working in unorganised sector. People call them ‘menial’ jobs even if they pay decently. Only a few professions seem to be given their due respect, starting from administrative jobs at the top, then come doctors, lawyers, managers and teachers.

Businessmen are given respect only when they are successful. Since our country doesn’t really have much of a culture of entrepreneurship as we understand it today, so all those who opt for this path are always under immense pressure to do extremely good, failing which they could be at the receiving end of society’s contempt. In developed societies, every job is respected, that is probably the reason why they are ‘developed’!

One can see that students want to get that job which not only pays well but also provides respect and dignity. These are two different problems which the youth in India is facing today. The question is whether we need more students in higher education in our country because satisfying their demands of well-paid jobs along with respect looks gloomy as societies don’t change their attitudes in a day. Or do we need to make a socio-cultural change where all jobs, whatever they are, get due respect? There are no proper answers to these questions. What happens in future, only time will tell.

Banner image for representation only. Credit: Sakib Ali/Hindustan Times via Getty Images.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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