The battle to get a job in the government isn’t easy to win
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The battle to get a job in the government isn’t easy to win

If talented candidates are sidelined through deceit and others selected on the basis of caste or a bribe, it is bound to impact the entire governing class

columns Updated: Mar 11, 2018 19:07 IST
SSC,Staff Selection Commission,CBI
Students shave off their hair to in New Delhi to protest against the alleged leak of questions for an exam conducted by the Staff Selection Commission. (Anushree Fadnavis/Hindustan Times)

They say every person has his or her own personal struggles. But history is full of stories of the miseries of others that people can relate to. The plight of hundreds of young people demonstrating outside Delhi’s Staff Selection Commission (SSC) office against alleged corruption by the SSC, makes for one similar story. When the reporters of Hindustan probed below the surface to find out the reasons for their troubles, many of them, in their own words, narrated a common story. Their account speaks volumes about the troubles gripping India’s youth.

Listen in.

Born in a village in eastern Uttar Pradesh, Govind Mishra has been preparing for competitive exams organised by the SSC for the past three years. He worked with a company for a year after completing his BTech from a private engineering college. Things were working out smoothly but then one of his friends cleared an SSC exam. Needless to say, even after 70 years of Independence, a government job is the first choice of most middle class and lower middle class households in the country. He consulted his family and shifted to Delhi’s Mukherjee Nagar to get coaching for competitive exams. Located near Delhi University, this neighbourhood is the first stop for most people aspiring to take competitive exams. The coaching centres here demand a hefty fee.

Few of those who get coaching may become successful and their photographs become part of advertisements. But most of them fail to clear these exams. These are the ones motivated to work harder the next year. In the eyes of coaching instructors, every candidate is a business opportunity. The longer the duration of coaching, the fatter the fee. Govind is just one of these aspirants. In the quest for an opportunity, he has become a profitable ‘opportunity’ for others.

Govind shares a room with two other classmates. These poor and unemployed youngsters pay a rent of Rs 6,000 every month. Coaching instructors extract between Rs 15,000 and Rs 20,000 for every subject from students. Having three square meals means an expenditure of Rs 4,000 every month. Consider this carefully: The least amount of expenses are spent on living, a little more on lodging and the most on chasing dreams of a better future. Govind has four siblings and his exam preparations have upset the family budget. He spends every day swinging between his dreams and this imbalance created in his life.

Delhi has thousands and the country millions of such youngsters. The third generation born after Independence is high on resolve and dreams but doesn’t have the opportunities to realise them.

Here are two other examples.

The High Court in Uttar Pradesh stayed the declaration of results of the travelling ticket examiners exam last week. The reason: a truckload of irregularities. Before this, the UP public service commission had been accused of favouritism and corruption. The preliminary probe showed this wasn’t an aberration: the entire system was rotten. So, all the selections made between 2012 and 2017 came under the CBI scanner. These are times in which exams from the army to the secretariat keep getting dragged into the murky cesspool of controversies. If all of these were impartially investigated, fraudsters such as Nirav Modi and Vijay Mallya will pale in comparison. If you don’t believe me, scan through last Thursday’s newspaper headlines. Between 2012 and 2014, the CBI even unearthed a racket where dummy candidates wrote exams on others’ behalf. Can this be carried out without political patronage? Unfortunately, it is an old story. Since Independence, government jobs have suffered at the hands of nepotism and corruption. The decline in values has only been worsening since the 1970s. Whoever became the chief minister would reward his community and vote bank with jobs. Owing to this, the entire government machinery has been afflicted by a deadly conflict. In Uttar Pradesh even the police forces were caught in its tentacles. It is alleged that constables and inspectors were employed on the basis of their caste. The case is still in the court.

Garbage in, garbage out, goes a saying. If talented candidates are sidelined through deceit and others picked on the basis of caste or a bribe, it is bound to impact the entire governing class. That is the real reason behind the nationwide anarchy.

It is an exciting fact that 65% of India’s population is composed of youngsters. It is another pleasant fact that our country has the most number of educated and trained youngsters. But is a scary fact that a gang of chieftains is impeding their progress. How can we become an economic superpower without removing these hurdles?

Shashi Shekhar is editor-in-chief Hindustan

First Published: Mar 11, 2018 19:06 IST