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.