Current Affairs Opinion

Jobs Jobs Jobs

Of late there has been a lot of commentary on jobs and employment in India. I would like to share my own 2 cents. A small caveat I am not a journalist and thus not an expert of economics, yield curves, cricket, missile tech, space research etc. I am but a moderately well-educated layman.

One constant commentary these days is how 1000s and at times millions some of whom are highly qualified apply for few menial jobs. Even his holiness Mr. Raghuram Rajan cited the same thing. Recently a former journalist and I had an argument on the same topic and he shared a recent report on NDTV of how 95000+ applied for 62 UP peon posts. The applicants included PhDs, Masters, Graduates when all the job needed was 5th pass only.

In my opinion this is an incorrect reading of the situation. Let me present some points

Quality Quality Quality—We never know what is the quality of these individuals – as has been often shown, in many places people get degrees and qualifications very easily without basic academic rigor and at times by cheating. The famous Bihar topper is but one example. So PhDs Peons is good alliteration but may not be anything else.

The main argument I have is that there is no crazy clamor for jobs but rather a crazy clamor for government jobs. In the work, I do we often benchmark hypothesis against similar market trends. So has this crazy ration of 1: 1530 applicants along with highly qualified applicants been replicated in any similar private sector recruitment in the same area. Even in a relatively backward state like UP has this ratio been demonstrated when any private firm has hired peons? If not this rush of qualified people for menial jobs is a distortion and not a trend. I have yet to see even 1 article in media showing such applications in the private sector. ( Yes there are individual MBAs driving Ubers but those are generally outliers or other factors otherwise one can claim that every Petrol Pump attendant can set up Reliance! )

When an Amazon hires delivery agents we never see such incredible rush but we do if any government department anywhere hires courier men! Recently there was a similar article about thousands of qualified people applying for 13 waiter posts in Mantralaya Mumbai and thus even the financial capital is sitting on a massive job crisis! There are multiple fine dining restaurants that have lit up the Mumbai scene in last few years. So, the takeaway is that people want to be waiters at Mantralaya but not at restaurants being run by global/ Michelin starred chefs!

So one conclusion is that the private sector is really exploiting workers but it is really hard to believe that all across 1.2 billion people and millions of firms everyone in sync is paying low and exploiting workers but no one actually says anything and thus no movement / strikes or government action has started.

The obvious conclusion then is that the government is over paying.

Pay! Yes most critical. If you notice none, I repeat none of these articles ever state or benchmark the salary on offer. The aforementioned requirement on peons offers salaries starting from 18000 a month to a maximum of 56900 a month ( https://m.dailyhunt.in/news/india/hindi/dainik+rojgar-epaper-dairoj/5+vi+pas+sandesh+vahak+ki+nikali+jagah+sailari+18000+se+shuru-newsid-93664379 )

-For peons who are 5th pass in a poor state with low standards of living!  As per a cursory google check – In the state of UP minimum wage in most manufacturing industries for unskilled workers is 7600 per month.(https://www.simpliance.in/minimum-wages/uttar-pradesh) So, an unskilled peon can earn 3 to 7 times an unskilled factory worker who even must do physically intensive work. Add to this other actual & perceived benefits of government jobs- lifelong job security, housing (in some cases) , pension etc. Anecdotally in many parts of the country even dowry rates for boys increase if they are in government jobs!

Even more surprising is when you look at income distribution in India. This calculator from Times of India-Yes its ToI so I would be a bit skeptical. ( Link — https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/calculator.cms ) shows that this Peon position would be in the Top 3% richest in India! Even this Hindu article ( Link https://www.thehindu.com/data/how-many-indians-are-richer-than-you/article8551773.ece )shows that such a person could be in top 2% of tax payers and easily among the top quintile  of the country . So this mere 5th pass peon job can take you directly in the top echelons on income in India , so whats surprising is not that 95000 have applied but that just 95000 have applied!

And what is the cost for applying for these jobs- not just the actual cost of forms (though that matters it is not significant) Just take a day off, stand in the queue and deposit the form. If you get picked -Life settle ho gayi if not kya farak pada

It appears to be some sort of a lottery scheme. And that is the real scandal. Given that most government departments and companies are not in a financially good shape it implies that our tax money is used to fund a lottery scheme. Ask yourself why– You can get better service with private firms that pay lower wages to their employees than with government firms where employees are far better paid- with your taxes.

Possibly these kinds of benefits are not sustainable and thus government jobs are reducing. An increasing population with more educational institutes further exacerbates the issue and thus we have many more educated candidates for fewer positions and education penetration than earlier.

To conclude I do not intend to state that there is massive employment or no job crisis In India, all I am stating is there may be a crisis for government jobs.

 

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As Shakespeare said to bias or not to bias

Sunday morning – I woke up with a strong desire to overcome my laziness and finish my part 2 Travel blog. But as they say the best laid plans of men and mice…. I came upon this brilliant piece of journalism on the famous Kanwar yatra in Hindustan Times (http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/shiva-s-band-of-men-into-the-world-of-the-kanwariyas/story-4Z6ocbSPL2PoaSshyl1KwN.html )

A bit of a background- The Kanwar yatra is a famous religious pilgrimage in North India wherein devotees walk all the way to Gangotri to collect water from the Ganga which is then poured on the shivlings in their villages. Of late as with many large religious gatherings the scale of the yatra has increased and it has become more socio cultural in nature

But the article promises an in-depth coverage but instead gives out prejudiced opinion Here I deconstruct some brilliant lines from this piece. Snippets from the article are in Italics.

“Thousands of young men taking over every inch of public space to do what they think is their right – walking, running, driving, dancing, dressing, undressing, bathing, sleeping…”

Oh my God, these uncouth people how the hell do they have a right to walk, run and drive in the space shared with us.

And bathing like this….. How dare they offend us with their bodies?

Bathing

(Above Picture from the said article)

Can’t they be more stylish and enjoy themselves in an appropriate fashion like below. “Zara ke dukaan kam pad gaye kya”

Bieberfan
(The above picture is from an article from rediff  ( https://goo.gl/nS9H9V ) of stylish fans in a Justin Bieber concert. )

Kanwariyas make headlines for coming in the way of law and order. This season alone, Kanwariyas have been in the news for falling off trains, being electrocuted on a street, being hit by a bus…”

These morons – how dare they break the law& order by being hit by a bus?

“But who are these young men taking over the streets in much of north India and why is everyone afraid of them? For one, they are armed with hockey sticks.”

Oh my God! They are armed with hockey sticks in this peaceful city with absolutely no road rage.

“All of these men were born in the same village, belong to the same caste – Mali (OBC) “

Yes, let me run them down by mentioning the caste and then just to complete the job mention OBC in parentheses. For a supposedly detailed article let me not bother to get a holistic profile. Ideally, caste should have been avoided but if it had to be mentioned it should have been worded like this —that the only group I met among 20 million pilgrims were from this particular community.

“He is a small man with dark skin, high cheekbones and sunken eyes. “

Shee Shee. He is small and has sunken eyes… Caste run down done, appearance rundown done now let’s move to economic run down……

He and his friends make up the first generation of men in their families to work outside the fields; only one of them has gone to high school. Naresh himself dropped out in fifth grade to support his family. A vegetable vendor, Naresh makes Rs 15,000 a month and saves at least Rs 7,000 through the year to put in the Kanwar kitty. “Why spend the saving on Kanwar?” I ask him.

  • Chalo economic rundown doe.
  • School dropout, vegetable vendor, and 15k a month—The contempt just drips…
  • Why save and follow your passion for a few days in the year. How dare they dream of a road trip? Who the hell do they think they are – Do they think they are cool bikers on their Harleys, Triumphs, Ducatis, And Bullets ( middle class wannabes are also OK ) going to Ladakh

“A vast majority of Kanwariyas are young men from low-income families in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan who are themselves hanging on to the edges of the informal economy as drivers, laborers and security guards. The four words – Bhole has called me – are uttered less in devotion and more as a code for escape from the uncertainties of their daily lives, from chances of earning fixed wages to chances of finding a good wife. The Kanwar Yatra is their one chance to prove their talents – physical strength, resourcefulness, wit – without being faced with market realities.”

How dare they have escapist fantasies? Don’t they realize that they are poor help who can dream of such things? They are so disgusting that they can’t earn properly or get good partners and they dare to dream. Anyways what do they have in real life: strength, resourcefulness wit—useless skills.

“Apparently, only a man can understand what a Kanwar yatra means to another man. Married for four years, Naresh has never brought his wife along on a Kanwar trip.”

These uncouth people—they can have no concept of male bonding –who the hell do they think they are—characters from Zindagi Naa Milegi Dobara that they can do a male bonding trip. (And no its not harassment when you sing — ‘Mujhko baahon mein tum ghero Samjhi Na senorita’. They are not classless poor people-they can buy Birkins)

“Delhi this is when Naresh and his friends come face to face with an urban middle class they only provide their services to otherwise. “

Finally, these louts are in Delhi—don’t they realize in this city they can only serve as cheap laborers as I have previously mentioned and not enjoy like us.

And create traffic—who the hell do they think they are? Are they a fashionable marriage party?

DelhiTraffic

From the HT archive. But middle class celebrations do not cause any inconvenience

“To have a good time with friends. To have fun,” he says, sharing on Facebook a selfie he has just taken with me.

On a serious note, that is the one line that touched me. Ultimately some (unlike the ‘journalist’ I can’t generalize and I agree that there are some bad elements in every gathering thus I use the word some) of these young men are just like us. Want some fun.

Not for once am I suggesting that the Kanwar yatra is all pristine and innocent. As per the journalists own figure 20 million people take part—even a fraction of these people being unpleasant elements will have a large impact. What I am against is the outright condescending and prejudiced article that reeks of arrogance.

Most of the so called sins of the Kanwars have been committed by practically each and every rock concert. Recently Justin Bieber had a 3 hour concert in Mumbai and it left the city in a chaos with people struggling on the road for hours, the venue was left incredibly dirty with the educated, ‘class-wale’ log strewing food and beverages everywhere. So many of us have either gone drunk or smuggled alcohol or other contra band into concerts. Two years back I was in Ahmedabad and attended an Arijit Concert- the new city with barely any traffic was choked up and the lesser said the better about the behavior inside the venue. It was so surprising then that my own class mates from Ahmedabad were complaining about the Kanwars. Forget concerts, even the few IPL matches held in Mumbai cause the same problems. The lane behind Taj is invariably jam packed after the match with people boozing up at Gokul and having kebabs at Bademiyan.

And it’s not just the Kanwars and this journalist–whenever there are mass gatherings of people who are not like us we upper classes invariably react this way. Obviously, the number of people who gather in such event will be more, much more than those at a rupees 10k, 3 hour concert and thus the impact may seem different. But the basic principles are the same.

Biebermess

A sample of what happens whenever crowds gather

 

One of my friends pointed out to me that it is natural to be prejudiced, however, a relative put it more colloquially in Bengali—Loosely translated – Your own farts don’t stink.

Maybe we can try to be more compassionate towards others, towards those who are not as fortunate as us—who can’t live the way we do. It doesn’t mean that we should condone all activities and encourage litter and congestion. But it also means that we should tolerate public celebration during Ganpati Visarjan and not abuse them for dancing on the streets of their own country while we dream of having our own Mardi gras or Tomatina.

I for one support and encourage occasional public celebration irrespective of class or religion. I am all for concerts and religious processions. I believe the authorities both police and civic should manage these events better (they largely do so). The over worked cops managing traffic should get extra wages ideally from the organizers. They can rope in organizers to ensure that people are educated on civic behavior so that neither Kanwars cause a mess on Delhi streets nor do Beliebers strew food all over the venue.

We may be an imperfect nation but we are a nation of equals. We all have our own problems which are hard very hard but as the young Kanwar, Vikram said—sometimes we just want to have fun and click a selfie with friends while grooving to a techno version of har har mahadev or shape of you or better both.