"Soh, where to go?” he asked in accented English with a frown and unpleasant stern look. A bunch of books (those books that helps to crack competitive professional exams in India) are kept in his side. He is obviously not happy with his profession. Not keen to appear as a cab driver but more of an educated enthusiast who is ‘helping’ me to reach a destination! A “job” he has taken just as a ‘stop gap’ till he cracks an interview and lands in his dream job. After a small discussion I understood that he has completed a Masters of Technology in Computer science from a not so known college of Tamil Nadu (this state has more than 552 such engineering colleges). He belongs to lower middle class family and dreams to settle in USA (through a project of TCS, Infosys or CTS) and earn a green card.
This story of ‘distant dream’ is same for the young toll collecting employee at the toll gates/ check posts, liftmen in corporate houses, security guards in the factories, peons and courier delivery boys. Most of them are educated better than what is required for the post! Most of them are not happy with his/ her current job and hence doesn’t bother to serve with a smiling face. Customer satisfaction is least important to them. They are chasing their dreams (which remains unfulfilled largely) and “not happy” with current situation. The result of this is extremely low customer satisfaction (especially in the grass root level of services) across Indian service based industries. Since they are educated (rather, highly educated) they can argue, they can act smart and can give reasonably believable excuses for not providing the promised service (“sir, its heavy traffic jam due to rain in this side of the city… please book another cab… oh yes, kindly press 1 when the service call comes”… a bright young voice (the driver of Ola cab) told me last Thursday over phone… in fact, there was no such traffic jam or heavy rain in the city… probably he was not interested to work anymore at that evening … but pressing 1 means I have canceled the cab myself and he has nothing to do with it!) . The demographic dividend of the country is now becoming unsolicited burden. Yes, they are highly educated and empowered with media, Bollywoody glittery movies, social media which shows them the dreams of a better world in the other side of society. But in paradox, the country provides little or no such opportunities to them to spread wings and grow faster.
Fact vs. fiction: rate of unemployment in India:
The Ministry of Labor’s report shows that there is a steady decline in unemployment rate in India.
Another report states that the unemployment rate is 1.7 per cent in rural and 3.4 per cent in urban areas.
In its previous report of 2013, unemployment rate was 1.5 per cent in rural and 4.8 per cent in urban areas. The report, based on a survey conducted by NSSO, shows that Christians are the worst-hit on access to jobs, with an unemployment rate of 4.5 per cent in rural and 5.9 per cent in urban areas. Muslims are next with an unemployment rate of 3.9 in rural and 2.6 per cent in urban areas.
While both these reports are promising, a report published last year at the Hindu news-paper states ten million Indians with graduate, post-graduate and technical degrees were looking for job! Meaning that 15% of all Indians with the highest levels of education were seeking job as of 2011.
Kerala had India’s highest graduate unemployment rate at over 30 per cent. Of the 116 million Indians who were either seeking or available for work, unemployment rates were higher among the better qualified, highest of all among the 7.2 million people with a technical diploma or certificate other than a degree. At all levels of education, unemployment rates were higher in rural than in urban areas. At every level of education, especially at the higher levels, female unemployment exceeded male unemployment. The ‘unemployed’ included those who were not currently working but were seeking or available for work, as well as those in marginal employment - meaning that they worked for fewer than six months in the year preceding the Census - who were seeking or available for work. Overall, India’s unemployment rate grew from 6.8 p.c. in 2001 to 9.6 p.c. in 2011, based on official Census data.
Quality of Education vs quality of opportunity:
In another heart wrenching report published in The Hindu it was observed that over 23 lakh candidates, including 2.22 lakh engineers and 255 Ph.D. holders have applied for 368 posts of peon (one of the lowest post in Govt. scale) in the State Secretariat at Uttar Pradesh. Thousands of candidates with Masters degree in Commerce, Humanities and Sciences are also among the applicants, something which indicates the gravity of the unemployment situation in the State. The recruitment to the posts was opened after a gap of 12 years. The selections were scheduled to be made through interviews. Given the huge number of candidates, officials said that it would take four years to interview all the 23 lakh candidates! The population of Uttar Pradesh is 21.5 crore. Going by the logic of numbers, every 93rd person in the State applied for the post which carries with it a salary of Rs.20,000, along with the perks of a government job. Obviously, we can understand, one who achieves a doctoral degree will not stick to the job of a peon but is looking at it as an option to ‘stop gap’ or ‘settle down’ to do ‘something else’ in parallel. Neither his Ph.D degree nor his wisdom will be of any use for the post/ job profile which requires physical labor/ skill rather than research based knowledge. He will not be able to work happily since he will not get the opportunity to exhibit his heard earned learning.
The Uttar Pardesh Technical University (UPTU), has more than 800 other private institutions affiliated to it, mostly engineering colleges, apart from government-aided institutions. However, the plight of these private institutions have exposed the dark reality of the education system which has moved from service to ‘profit making’ business model. In the quick fix spirit of 'jugaad (innovative solution)' these colleges have found new ways to fill seats in the time of crisis. Most have hired consultants who ‘supply’ students. Gullible students believe the promises of guaranteed placements that the consultant-cum-middle man makes. They are granted admission under the ‘management quota’, a euphemism for extra payment taken before admission. A report by Times of India in the year 2014 stated that close to 1.24 lakh engineering seats in the state under the UP state entrance examination (UPSEE) counseling found no takers. Out of 1.47 lakh engineering seats in over 300 colleges in the state, only 23,000 candidates have confirmed admissions. Of the total seats, 97,000 were to be filled through counseling. Remaining seats were to be filled via direct admissions and JEE (Mains). A total of 1.38 lakh candidates had qualified the State Engineering Exam. With no candidates in sight, special counseling is being held in government and aided colleges where admissions will be done through the general merit list. Officials said around 20% seats on average are vacant in government colleges. Overall, only 30,000 candidates have taken admission in state technical colleges affiliated to UPTU. This includes engineering, management, pharmacy, fashion designing, hotel management and others. In MBA, only 2,500 candidates have confirmed admissions against 44,000 seats. The other side of the coin is the quality of the crowd in these colleges. According to the companies landing up for placements, students generally lack aptitude and skill needed to survive in the professional ecosystem. This doesn't get fixed even after preliminary training after hiring.
This year, in Gujrat registration for admission into engineering and pharmacy colleges has ended. Officials of the Admission Committee for Professional Courses (ACPC) are worried because only 48,000 students have registered for 71,000 engineering seats in 138 colleges across the state. The officials are expecting a record number of seats, 30,000, to remain vacant this year. They said, as it is, at the end of the registration stage, 23,000 seats are vacant. Officials said it has been noted that around 15% of students opt out when they fail to get the branch of their choice. This time the number of such students is expected to be 7000-odd: that leads to the estimation of overall vacancy of 30,000.
Educated Youth, rise in smart crime and smarter terrorism:
So, in this situation, when highly educated youth doesn’t land in suitable job what happens? Where will they use their learning, skill, wisdom? How will they feel ‘satisfied”?
The high end digital terrorism was first noticed in India when in the year 2014 Mehdi Masoor Biswas was arrested from Bangalore. Bengaluru police in the early hours of December 2014 arrested Mehdi Masroor Biswas, 24, from his Jalahalli residence in North Bengaluru, for handling a pro-ISIS Twitter handle. Karnataka DGP Pachau further added: "His Twitter handle had become a source of information for new recruits of ISIS. He was in touch with the English speaking terrorists from the terrorist group, thereby abetting them." Hailing from Gopalpur in West Bengal, he worked with an MNC here from 2012 with an annual package of Rs 5.38 lakh and had just been confirmed in March 2014. The report also states that 2 thirds of foreign jihadists followed his tweets! Mehdi had more than 17,000 followers on Twitter and used to "ferociously" tweet by aggregating information and closely watching developments of the region. Interestingly, In a brief interview to Channel 4 "Mehdi" had said, "I haven't done anything wrong. I haven't harmed anybody. I haven't broken any law...I haven't raised any war or any violence against the public of India. I haven't waged war against any allies of India....I want to state clearly that I won't resist arrest when the time comes. I don't have any sort of weapons with me," Biswas was educated, he knew what he is doing and was prepared with his reasons to prove that he has not commited any crime! The education, which is never been channeled through valued profession ends one into crime or terrorism.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau, 44 per cent of the arrested criminals in India belong to the age group of 10 to 30 years, which is the ‘youth’ (As per the 2011 statistics).
Juvenile crime in urban areas in India rose by 40% between 2001-10 said researchers in 'The State of the Urban Youth India 2012: Employment, Livelihoods, Skills', published by Mumbai-based IRIS Knowledge Foundation (IKF).
In the three years up to 2013, registered cases of cyber crime were up 350%, from 966 to 4,356. “Illegal gains” and “harassment” are the top cyber crime motives, the data reveal. The majority of crimes are registered under “others”; 2,144 cases were registered in this category in 2013. Such a high number of cases registered in “others” implies that the current laws and regulations aren’t detailed enough to tackle cyber crime.
Those who are arrested under these laws are overwhelmingly young. Data show that the age group of 18-30 accounts for the highest percentage of cybercrime with 1,638 persons arrested in the age bracket out of a total arrests of 3,301 in 2013.
Organized crime, cyber based bank robbery, extortion and pre-planned criminal activities are increasing in the country as well as terrorism.
Recently, At least 15 highly qualified youths from Kerala's Kasaragod and Palakkad districts who had traveled to the Middle East have gone missing for the last one month and their families suspect they may have joined the Islamic State. Asaragod District Panchayat member V P P Mustafa said that during Eid, the parents of two missing youths received 'Whatsapp' messages saying "we are not coming back. Here there is Divine Rule. You also should join us". "We have joined IS to fight US for attacking Muslims", read another message, he said adding the veracity of the messages has to be checked.
Whats the solution?
Hence, if Govt. of India wants to boost itself with the demographic dividend (which was the USP of India for past two decades) the country needs to look at the “Quality of Education = Right opportunity = Job satisfaction” match making model rather than blatant skill development training programs. Otherwise the boon can become a devastating bane in years to come.