PhDs and unemployment

PhDs and unemployment

The question now arises about the quality of PhDs, and also of higher education standards in India

Recently there appeared a report in ‘the New Indian Express’ dated 3 March 2018, over the unemployment problems among the highly qualified youth in J&K. This report was also highlighted by our local media. The report said that doctorates, post-graduates and graduates have applied for Govt jobs as orderlies, guards and sweepers in J&K. The report further said that nearly 18,000 candidates, many of them with PhDs, 2,000 postgraduates, 5,000 graduates have applied for 110 class IV posts in Govt Medical College, Srinagar (GMC). These people are seeking to work as nursing orderlies, office orderlies, ward boys, lab attendants, sweepers and stretcher bearers. The minimum/maximum eligibility criterion for the posts was matriculation/higher secondary and there was no credit for higher qualifications. The report further said that last year a candidate with a PhD was selected as sweeper in GMC but after joining duties, he later resigned. It is indeed a sign of desperation. Many people don’t believe these reports and hold the view that there may be stray cases of PhD students seeking sweeper’s jobs. One of the hilarious parts of the report was its title, captained “In Jammu and Kashmir, PhDs want to be sweepers” 

If things happen this way, then we might be able to discuss scientific laws, technology, philosophy and psychology from sweepers and peons fetching tea and drinking water in our offices. Indeed, the caption of the report should have been like “PhDs apply for sweeper’s posts in J&K”. Are we ridiculing PhDs? It is not like that, PhDs want to be sweepers and peons. Nobody in this world likes an inferior position. It is quite a common sense that rising unemployment problems and circumstances force such individuals to take up low-ranking jobs. And it is not happening in J&K only, over the years, reports have regularly appeared about people with PhDs, MBAs, Post and Engineering graduates applying for low-class jobs. Just a year back 255 doctorates where among the 23 lakh people who had applied for 368 posts of peons in UP. It has happened in Madhya Pradesh and continuing all around in other states. The whole India is presently grappling under the rising unemployment problems. Then, we should also check the universities from where these people have obtained the degrees and verify what they have contributed. No one from a good university or with a good research work would apply for such jobs. There is massive rot in the Indian education system. Almost anyone can buy a PhD, Bed/Med, graduation or post graduation degree, but it is very difficult to buy a peon’s job in government.

The question now arises about the quality of PhDs and higher education standards in India. Does our higher education lack innovation? At a conference on higher education last year MHRD minister Prakash Javadekar said that “If PhD students are applying for sweepers’ jobs, we have not taught (them) anything”. The statement has a substance. The universities are there to create new knowledge, ideas, programs and develop new mindsets, to build a healthy society. A PhD means an addition to the existing knowledge and we have brought it to a level where we need to give it a new interpretation. If these scholars themselves are at sea what can they give to the society? It is also true that in certain cases, PhDs don’t have available specific jobs in the market and they are forced to take up routine jobs. In that case, it is a reflection more on Indian industry than on the quality of higher education. Then, employing these people at such positions also becomes a problem for officials who find it awkward to assign them work. It is true that every year high number of PhDs with low quality research work appear to grab jobs in universities and colleges. Then, over the period of time the college and university teachers were required to conduct research for promotions and increments as per UGC regulations and that  has not lead to some high standard research work, tempting  every Tom, Dick and Harry to indulge in the field to obtain handsome teaching jobs in colleges and universities. The degrees awarded through distance mode education are weak and suspicious, have also added to the woes.

The lack of jobs is one aspect and running after Govt jobs is another. Particularly, in this part of the world where we don’t have industries and most of the time turmoil badly affects the business, the only option left is creating fascination for Govt jobs. Indeed, Govt jobs have several attractions like the job security, absence of accountability and needs no skills. Many people with degrees believe that Govt job is a tension-free life, if they enter as peon in an organization they will retire at a high post but if they join as teachers they will retire as teachers. Its dependence has created a psyche of lifelong social security in our minds. Our labor market and artisanry has already taken over by outsiders. When we are able to provide employment to such a huge number of outsiders, why is there such an unemployment problem in Kashmir? We are unable to perform these jobs ourselves to alleviate the unemployment to some extent. The herd mentality of running after one profession or psyche of being secured in Govt jobs or the cast-based professions, I think this lethargic mindset has to change. The modern economy offers a myriad of white collar job opportunities that did not exist earlier.

Over the years the surge in the population growth has created survival problems. We have exploited things in every possible measure and developed methods to obtain things in short-cut ways. We have failed to improve the quality of education, incorporate skills and entrepreneur trainings to create meaningful jobs for our qualified youth. Then, we are not fairly treating our highly qualified youth. Those employed on contract in the higher education are given monthly salaries which is lower than a Govt sweeper’s pay. We have seen illiterate people getting engaged as casual laborers and later regularized and promoted. It is high time that Govt. should launch a scheme to rehabilitate the highly qualified youth. They should be given monthly allowance, stipend or pocket money. Their services can be utilized for the good of the society and they can volunteer themselves for any community work or take some developmental projects. I will close my chapter with a saying “A man willing to work, and unable to find work, is perhaps the saddest sight that fortune’s inequality exhibits under this sun”