Scene: IIT-JEE Chemistry tuition
Location: Last Bench (In a reminiscing state of mind)
It is amazing to be in a constant state of nervousness for so long and with expressions so dead that one might consider playing in a poker championship before banging their head with chemical bonding any more. But then again, being a small part of a giant machine(read problem), even if you have the foresight to know something is wrong the sheer magnitude of the problem with the system just SHOUTS in your ears somehow matching the voice of the teacher at the exact same time
TEST ON FRIDAY!!!!!!!
And the people who want to fix the problem go with their books to prepare a test of something on someday for something that will lead them somewhere in life.
The above gloomy picture is something I have seen so much around me. It is petrifying to realize that more than 1.5 million people, through various streams and exams, are heading towards a college system that is so flawed which leads them to a job market that does not need them. Since. we are the ones who get to go to college; we are actually speaking from a position of privilege.
Just Imagine what the problems of the underprivileged might look like
Now we all know the typical villains in this story which is unemployment, it just varies with perspective.
- The students say the colleges and government is at fault,
- the corporates blame the lack of skill in the pool of students,
- and ,as far as this government goes, has a plathora of suggestions that might be mistaken for sarcastic jokes instead of a viable solution (remember how keeping a cow for some years instead of trying for a job was one of these?).
We can easily side with one of these narratives and go all guns blazing on whoever we think is at fault (this line is such a deja vu). But the real truth is never black or white where all we have to do is pick a villain and attack it. The problem and solution contains a lot more grey and is so much deeper than this.
According to statists.com, the unemployment in this country has been rising overall from 7.82 percent in 2008 to 10.51 in 2019. India’s unemployment has been the highest since 1975. There are many reasons why we are here.
As an article on livemint.com suggests (according to the National sample survey office) the total number of workers in the economy was 472.5 million in 2011-12, which fell to 457 million in 2017-18. The absolute number of workers declined by 15.5 million over six years.
But a major reason for this is also underemployment. Merriam Webster.com defines unemployment as the condition in which people in a labor force are employed at less than full-time or regular jobs or at jobs inadequate with respect to their training or economic needs.
According to Radhicka Kapoor, a fellow at the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER), those who are armed with better education will always be reluctant to take jobs that don’t fit their aspirations.
“In many ways, unemployment is a luxury in India which can be enjoyed only by those who can afford to wait till they find the kind of jobs they are looking for. The poor can’t afford to remain unemployed in India,” she said to thewire.in
But regarding the aspirations part, if your work ethic is so intense as to negatively affect your health and that too way before the job aspect kicks in, while preparing to somehow get into your desired college in face of nation wide competition, the aspirations are bound to arise. The only thing that motivates one to do one last physics question, one last maths problem, one last history chapter and draw one last biology diagram, is the hope for a better life after all this is over. And all the people around us echo the same sentiment with the trademark smirk accompanied with “your life will be set after xyz”, a sentence which is like a con man who is right in front of us but somehow still continues to operate.
When I was in my drop year preparing for the SATs, I was clear that the situation here is not that good. A part of me was compelled to stay here and work towards change but, to be honest, I was just too scared to go out and fight this thing and work a solution from ground up. I met people preparing for all kinds of exams there to go outside India for their education. From SATs to GRE and GMAT, somehow everybody had the same factor which brought them there: anxiety over rising unemployment and lack of faith in the government to handle it. I shared a classroom with 10 people out of which 7 were passed out from grade 12 and were not accepted to their preferred college in India. They did not have any faith in the college system and its credibility to land any jobs. And I do not blame them.
As an article of economic times reported in 2018, 3,700 PHDs holders, 50,000 graduates, 28,000 PGs have applied for 62 posts of messengers in UP police.
A post that requires a minimum eligibility of Class V. Similarly, in Rajasthan, 129 engineers, 23 lawyers, one chartered accountant and 393 post graduates were interviewed for jobs of peons.
In February, according to an article by thelogicalindian.com, the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission (TNPSC) conducted a test to fill 9,500 posts of village-level clerks with a minimum qualification of class 10. Among the 20 lakh applicants for the test, there were 992 PhD holders, 23,000 M.Phil holders, 2.5 lakh post-graduates and eight lakh graduates.
I once shared a TOEFL(an english eligibility test taken by students of countries where English is not their first language in order to be admitted in foreign universities) with a student who just graduated from Punjab Engineering College(PEC) and asked him about placements in his college. He said that in his branch there was only one company for recruitment and that company declared they were only going to hire female employees. He said by the time third year of engineering starts, it is considered very unusual that you are not preparing for a GMAT, a GRE or any other competitive exam as core placements are not that much. Another student from the same class added how the lack of government spending of libral arts colleges was hurting their education and employment opportunities .
There is obviously a lot to be done to somehow make this better. There has to be a change in our education system in that it has to stop teaching facts but build our overall personality. We need to develop an incentive for research and entrepreneurship for individuals.The issues regarding the lack of investment in R and D projects by the government and the relationships between industry and academia are pivotal in deciding where we go from here. All the above ideas are just the finer points of the big main idea: Just create more jobs!!!
I know it is just stupid to mention that. But the high hopes of programs like ‘Make in India’ and ‘Start up India’ which were provided by those programs; are studies about how executing such a solution can be a big headache. And I know, in fact you only read in this article about 5 minutes ago that we cannot blame any one side for this.
But I urge you to think that in order to improve the scenario, who should take the first step, the students who are piled up with a burden of expectations and constraints or the people who we elected to try and initiate a reliable plan to get us out of this mess.
Unemployment is a huge cluster of problems that are so intertwined it will require all of us to do something to solve it. In the present environment, where there is a decrease in transparency of facts and denial of certain people to even accept the magnitude of the problem is frightening. Frankly, I just hope that someone from a generation after us is not writing about the same problem, with a same tone of hopelessness and the same or more amount of facts and stories that support a morbid tone. And they will not be expressing their anger with a poker face!!!