General Competition Exams and the rise of Middle Class

INTRODUCATION

When India got Independence in 1947, the number of people below the poverty line was approximately 80% and the literacy rate of the country was 12%. In 2019, data is standing at about 6.7% below the poverty line and a 74.04% literacy rate.

This blog presents a very different perspective as to how government jobs have helped to develop the Indian Middle class, particularly in the eastern state of Bihar and UP.

SITUATION

It is not a secret that Indian has much more people related to the agriculture sector than required. This type of unemployment is known as disguised unemployment.

Now, it also means that if this human resource is used properly, it can be used in the other secondary and tertiary sectors like manufacturing and services.

In fact, it is already the case with the clear difference in data of contribution of the primary, secondary, and tertiary sectors in GDP over the years.

THE UNCERTAINITY WITH AGRICULTURE

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Agriculture is not considered a wealthy profession in India. Barring only a few states like Punjab and Haryana, where the impact of the green revolution was most, all other states seemed to be in a fragile condition particularly the eastern states.

Somehow, they manage to survive with their little income. Also, most farmers depend on rainfall for the irrigation of their crops. The conditions get worsened in case of drought and flood. The farmer has no option but to take loans and once they get burdened under the interest, for many it becomes suicidal.

EDUCATION SOLUTION

If we combine the above two points, there is a sense of uncertainty towards this profession. Many farmers want their sons to be educated and get a stable job so that they do not have to face this uncertainty of life. So, that how education finds its way in the lowest income farmers of Bihar.

It isn’t driven by curiosity to know more about the world, people, and things, nor by interest, it just gets introduced only as a question of survival.

THE COST OF EDUCATION

Education is no longer a necessity, it has become a commodity. As the fees of the school and higher institutes, increase, it becomes literally impossible for poor students to have access to quality education.

So, students try to find the cheapest method of acquiring a stable job that ensures job security and retirement benefits.

THE LIMITED POSSIBILITY

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Let’s point out the common options a student has if he is pursuing studies.

  1. Qualify one of the entrance exams to study in IIT/AIIMS/IIM/LLB and similar entrance exams in other sectors.
  2. Studying in any private or state government institutes and get a comparative study and job opportunities.
  3. Opting graduation from any reputed government institutes like DU, BHU, JNU, and then opt for masters and Ph. Ds.
  4. Complete courses like a diploma, a computer course, apprenticeship or stenography, and other various courses and then find a way through it.
  5. Become a government employee through various exams like SSC, BANKING, RAILWAYS, or state government exams, etc.

Of all the probabilities listed above, there has to be some sort of competition you have to go through. Either you have to clear a very competitive exam to get into those universities, score a very high percentage(nearly 100% for some) in Intermediate or you have to clear an exam that is ultra-competitive in the number of candidates that fill the forms.

The 5th option on the list,i.e, becoming a government employee is a direct recruitment process. You just have to clear an exam without bothering much about from which college or university you have obtained your required qualification.

You are equally eligible to fill the recruitment form no matter if you have completed your graduation from the prestigious college of Delhi University (DU) or from a random college in Bihar.

And that’s how stories like these being reported. Notice the number of applicants with respect to the number of vacancies.

image source: timesof india

NOT JUST A STABLE JOB

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People working in banks, central government employees, state government employees are considered to be having the most stable job and job security.

As mentioned in the above point that getting a government job is the only possibility that the poor and lower-income families are left with, so the rat race to clear one of these exams begins involving millions of students.

Even though many poor students have an interest in engineering or medical, they can’t afford the coaching fees and annual fees of these institutes or other private institutes due to which they have to switch to these government jobs to show their capabilities.

THE ACHIEVEMENT OF COMPETITIVE EXAM AGENCIES

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The mass recruiters like Staff Selection Competition(SSC), Railway Recruitment Board(RRB), Indian Banking Personnel Services (IBPS), and other recruitment agencies have made sure that the transparency of these exams remains intact.

Debarring fake candidates, banning gadgets inside the examination hall and strict protocols of biometric verification have made sure that only the most genuine and deserved candidate gets the job.

But the time to complete the process of notification to the completion of vacancies sometimes takes so much time that the students get frustrated on what to do next.

Moreover, the simple process of selecting candidates sometimes becomes so complex that sometimes, even the judiciary needs to get involved to get it sorted.

Increasing incidents of question paper leaks only add insult to injury as these exams are the last hope for many.

Some of the examinations processes takes years to get completed. When you look it as the only way for many students to enter the educated section of the society, you would feel disheartened after knowing this fact.

IMPACT OF FAIR RECRUITMENT

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

As the most hardworking candidates get the job, it gives a fair chance to those poor students from lower financial backgrounds to compete fairly through these exams.

Rich or poor, this system requires every candidate to work hard to come into the ranks. So, if a student with poor financial background gets a job, it is a complete turnaround for him and his family.

The dependence on clouds for rain is now being substituted to something more secure, something more certain, i.e., the salary, whether it is 25K, 50K or 70K, the number doesn’t matter, the post doesn’t matter, only the satisfaction of getting a safe, secure job is enough to cover all despair.

THE RISE OF MIDDLE CLASS

It is no guess that if this process continues for years after years, a large section will shift from below the poverty line to the middle class. This is what actually has happened over the past 7 decades. Among all the reasons, this is also a major contributing factor.

A person getting a secure job not just means the upliftment of his family and improving living standard, it also means getting rid of poverty and ill-treatment that his previous generations faced working as daily wage laborer or a poor uneducated farmer. Thus, social status also improves.

THE INTERESTING BIT

Between all this serious issue, think how interesting it is that a sweeper as a daily wage laborer with an income of Rs 300/day has no social respect but when he qualifies an exam to become a sweeper at a governmental department like railways, gets a salary, dearness allowance, retirement benefits, he gets liable for ample social respect.

And that’s how stories like these being reported:

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/over-93000-candidates-including-3700-phd-holders-apply-for-peon-job-in-up/articleshow/65604396.cms

THE FLIP SIDE

Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst

As shown above, that competing in these exams remain the only choice for the students from the poor financial condition, it also means that many extraordinary students who could have served better, remain underutilized. This point is important from the government’s perspective.

A student who could have been a world-renowned doctor, a Nobel-winning scientist or a great researcher is happily serving as a clerk, a technician, or a railway track maintainer. However, every government tries to help students with scholarship programs but those stories are few and far between.

It requires very long planning and also improvement of universities needs to be done at a mass level. There can’t be only few renowned colleges in a country of such large population.

THE CONTINUATION

The rise of engineering as a profession and as a discipline is not just coincidental. The middle class described above now has further aspirations for their child and so does the child. The engineer and medical sector got boom because people wanted their class up-gradation from middle class to higher class.

Middle-class students can definitely afford the IIT/Medical preparation and the fee to study in these colleges. Also, the psychology described above that many talented students who would have wanted to serve as engineers and doctors wants to see their child at that very respective positions. This is also one of the reasons why engineering is being imposed on children by their parents.

This is one of the premier reasons why many engineering graduates don’t feel connected with the course. They feel like it is being imposed on them. Interest is not considered a factor.

THE IDEAL CONDITION

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The cycle of class upliftment described above is good because it helps in improving the GDP of a country. Also, the social status of the people improves and the country gets shifted from developing to developed with an increase in the lifestyle of an average individual.

But when something is imposed on an individual, with time, either he survives the burden or completely feels unrelated to the subject. The herd mentality can be said to be the major cause for this.

Nonetheless, class up-gradation leads to the development of those states that are not at par with the other states of the country.

THE FRIGHTENING SCENARIO

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Imagine the condition that the motivation of bigger aspirations didn’t get into the minds and the people are satisfied with their job, salary, and perks. It mainly happens due to fears associated with the private sector.

Job security becomes more important than aspirations and now, the newly formed middle class also wants their child to clear these competitive exams. So, along with the poor candidates who are preparing hard to get out of poverty, the number of middle-class students gets added and that’s how the number grows.

The insecurity of the private sector adds fuel to fire. Many top IT companies see people leaving to join Indian governmental departments.

So, stories like these testify above-stated point.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/education/layoffs-and-shrinking-job-market-is-this-the-end-of-india-s-engineering-dream/story-uWtw0E8PtslNzsfiXszMpL.html

COVID MAKES IT MORE DIFFICULT

Image by iXimus from Pixabay

The covid pandemic has put the final nail in the coffin by making many people lose their jobs.

During this pandemic, the ones who were most secure about their future were the ones working in a governmental department.

All these factors play into the minds of a student if he thinks about the future and his decisions.

CONCLUSION

These general competitive exams are a door to the middle class for many poor students but at the same time, it limits the already middle class to have big aspirations.

A career is important for a student but the combination of herd mentality and inefficiencies of institutes has made a student question the purpose of education.

If achieved a routine job then great and he is regarded successful in life, if not unemployed with even no experience of agriculture or business, his ancestors’ profession, make the situation suicidal for students.


if you have read this blog, post your comments on what you think about this in the comment section.