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
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
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

Avinash Shahi
Doctoral student at Centre for Law and Governance JNU

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