India’s youth and the cesspool of corruption
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
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 at the commission, makes for such a story. When the reporters of Hindustan probed a little deeper, they found out the reasons for their troubles. Many of them narrated a common story and their account speaks volumes about the troubles gripping India’s youth.
Born in a village in eastern Uttar Pradesh, Govind Mishra has been preparing for competitive exams organized by the SSC for the past three years. He worked with a company for a year after completing his B.Tech 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.
A few of them 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 success, he has become a profitable “opportunity” for others.
Govind shares a room with two others. These poor and unemployed youngsters pay a rent of Rs6,000 every month. Coaching instructors extract between Rs15,000 and Rs20,000 for every subject from students. Having three square meals means an expenditure of Rs4,000 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.
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 realize them.
Here are two other examples.
The Allahabad high court stayed the declaration of results of the travelling ticket examiners exam last week. The reason: a truckload of irregularities. Before this, the Uttar Pradesh 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 scanner of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). 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 with jobs. Owing to this, the entire government machinery has been afflicted by a conflict. In UP, 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 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 it 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.
His Twitter handle is @shekharkahin