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Revisiting Unemployment In India And How The Education System Is Failing Students

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Demography says that India has a workforce of about 63% in the age group of 15 to 24. The workforce, if deployed to work, can change the face of the country, but the current system only kills students on a large scale. Apart from the misleading news of job creation, the government has nothing to give. Arjun Bharadwaj, a 24-year-old management student, committed suicide by jumping out of a 19th-floor hotel room in Mumbai. Reports suggest he had been depressed about failure in exams and repeatedly talked about ending his life on social media.

Bharadwaj’s story made the headlines — most likely because he killed himself at a five-star hotel and discussed suicide methods on Facebook — but it is no exception: Every hour, one student commits suicide in India. Student suicides have increased 52% since 2007.

The incident of suicide among students is related to the inability of the Indian state to create jobs as per the rising workforce. The  Centre for Monitoring of Indian Economy points out that there are currently 31 million unemployed youth in India and 4.75million people join the workforce every year. The unemployment rate is 6.1%. A report by Motilal Oswal, says that in order to reduce the rate of unemployment, the state has to create 10 million jobs per annum till 2030. Here, we see the inability of the system to provide work for the people. Within this system, we the students have been left with very few options. The demand for the right to work needs to be strengthened by student movements.

Yet another cause of such a large number of student suicides is explained by Sociologist Samata Deshmane. She says, “Society is transforming, and people are finding it difficult to cope with it, whether it is apparent or otherwise. One of the oldest definitions of our species says that we are social animals, but today we are less social and more individualistic.” The prevalence of an ‘I don’t care unless it affects me’ culture is specially sponsored by corporate giants like Nike which has a “Just Do It” slogan. The history of that slogan says that it is based on a murderer’s last word. Thus we see how a culture of individualism is internalised within us by multinational corporations in order to benefit them.

Many students are also compelled to leave college because of an increased financial burden or discriminatory policies. The mental pressure often pushes them to suicide.

With the aim of revitalising infrastructure and systems in education (RISE by 2022), the central government has proposed Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA) that would obliterate the role of the UGC in providing funds to universities. They will be asked to apply for a loan. The payment of the loan and its interest would require institutions to raise the fee. Moving a step further, the government is planning to nullify UGC and bring in the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) that would push for more government control; and stifle critical thinking on campuses. Through these what we see is the constant intensification of privatisation in India and is an attempt to establish the rule of finance capital even in public universities.

The problem with the current education system in colleges and universities is that we lack even the basics. There is no proper student-teacher ratio, we don’t have sufficient infrastructure to cater to research needs, the quality of teachers is tremendously deteriorating since people with insufficient qualifications are being hired. The creation of a short-term, contract-based appointment system in the case of teachers has also ruined the quality of education. Gender-based discrimination is a norm in the university, women are compelled to leave the hostel in vacations, they are not allowed to get inside the hostel after a certain time in the night. The feudal patriarchal controlling of women is reproduced by the university administration. Students from minority communities are discriminated against everywhere. The right to speech and expression granted by the constitution is not applicable on any campus, we are not free to even conduct a public meeting in the campus. Pasting posters and artistic expressions on the wall are criminal acts. These laws and practices turn universities into prison where we are asked to not discuss ideas and only blindly follow orthodox practices promoted by administrations.

With such diverse problems, major student organisations on campuses are just pretending to work within the oppressive system that denies rights to students. The organisation, for the sake of a post in the administration, participates in elections and strengthens the degenerated matrix of caste and class in disguise of a democratic process. During the elections, we would get to see how money and not ideas flow inside the campus. We would get to see who the students run behind just because of their caste. Some organisations in the campus even use the name of Bhagat Singh to propagate Brahmanical fascist ideologies. Even the so-called progressive students’ organisations divert the larger political-economic cause into a trivial cause of administration failure. These organisations are basically agents of the administration.

What we need is radical revolutionary politics and a firm opinion that issues on campus have to be fought uncompromisingly till the end.

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  1. nishant anand

    nice article , must read by all university campus students to understand the fundamental reality of oppressive system .

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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.

Read more about his campaign.

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.

Read more about her campaign.

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.

Read more about her campaign. 

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.

Find out more about the campaign here.

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.

Read more about the campaign here.

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.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

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, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’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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