Severe crisis facing masses of youth (2024)

The pent-up anger and frustration in lakhs of youth across the country has spilled out on the streets. Youth are agitating in many parts of the country in large numbers, because their aspirations for education and a secure livelihood are being systematically crushed.

The dreams of nearly 24 lakh youth, of securing an undergraduate medical course seat in a government college anywhere in India, have been rudely shattered by serious discrepancies in the results and exposure of paper leaks and multi-crore cheating scams, in the NEET-UG examination held on May 5 this year. The NEET-UG exam is conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA), directly under the Education Ministry of the central government. In June, the UGC-National Eligibility Test (UGC-NET) exam was cancelled after being held, bringing the aspirations of nearly 10 lakh youth, for securing state-funded research fellowships and teaching positions in state universities, crashing to the ground. Earlier this year, in February, 48 lakh youth who appeared for less than 67,000 jobs of police constable, in the Uttar Pradesh Police Constable Recruitment Examination 2024, lost their hopes of a secure job after reports of widespread cheating networks and paper leaks. These are but a few most recent examples of the cruel destruction of the dreams of millions of youth, for higher education and secure jobs.

Denial of the right to education

Youth are demanding the right to education. They are protesting against the increasing privatisation of education, unprecedented fee hikes and inadequate government expenditure on education, because of which good quality education has become a privilege enjoyed by only a minority of youth.

The National Education Policy 2020 fails to address the requirement of good quality state funded schools and universities, in every corner of the country, accessible to all children and youth. It fails to address the requirement of adequate numbers of trained teachers, with secure employment and adequate remuneration. Instead, it advocates privatisation of education on a large scale, the setting up of campuses of private and foreign universities and self-financing courses, with huge fees that make education unaffordable for the vast masses of our youth.

In the name of upgrading educational standards, the NEP 2020 has instituted compulsory centrally administered, all-India entrance tests for admission to all central universities and many professional courses. Given the abysmal lack of uniform educational standards across the country, as brought out once more last year, by the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2023, this has only led to further proliferation of the multi-crore coaching tutorials industry, and greater desperation and insecurity among the youth.

Across the country, youth in ever-growing numbers are demanding that the state invest in providing good quality, affordable, universal education, from primary education up to higher education.

Severe unemployment problem

The problem of unemployment in our country has reached alarming levels. It is particularly acute among the youth. More than 80 per cent of India’s unemployed workforce comprises its youth. Around 50 lakh youth join the workforce every year but many of them are unable to find jobs with a salary that would enable a dignified existence. The latest Periodic Labour Force Survey for the January-March 2024 quarter shows that one out of every six persons in the age group 15-29 is unemployed. The proportion of educated unemployed youth is increasing. The proportion of youth who have completed secondary school, among all unemployed persons, has risen from 54% in 2000 to 66% in 2022 (India Employment Report 2024: Institute for Human Development and International Labour Organisation).

Whenever the central government or any state government calls for applications to fill a few hundred vacancies in government jobs, mostly at the clerical and maintenance level, tens of thousands of graduates, post graduates, and even PhD’s apply for these jobs. Lakhs of youth spend years on end, preparing for and writing one qualification examination after another, for a job in railways or in some other department of the government. There are increasing number of cases of these exams being cancelled, the results being cancelled after the exams were held, or of recruitments being cancelled after having been carried out, because of subsequent complaints of cheating, fraud, extortion rackets, etc. It is not hard to imagine the anger and frustration of lakhs of youth who have spent 12 years in school and another 3-5 years in college or technical training, apart from coaching classes to prepare for exams for government jobs, for which their families have spent lakhs of rupees, when their aspirations are crushed in this manner!

The Army which once provided secure employment to lakhs of youth, is now carrying out recruitment under the Agnipath Scheme since June 2022. Under this scheme, youth are recruited in the Army for four years as Agniveers, after which only 25% of them will be retained!

Very few of the highly qualified youth get regular jobs in private companies. With increasing privatisation of public sector industries and services, every year, more jobs are being destroyed than are being created. This year even engineering graduates from premier educational institutes like IITs are struggling to find a job.

The number of youth driven to suicide, primarily due to lack of educational opportunities and jobs, is increasing year by year. Data provided by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) says that 13,089 students died by suicide in 2021 (the year of its latest report on suicides); a 70% increase from 7,696 student suicides in 2011. Kota in Rajasthan, famous as the coaching hub for competitive exams, witnessed 26 deaths by suicide in 2023, the highest number of such deaths in the city. Over 200,000 students go to Kota annually to prepare for competitive exams.

Declining quality of jobs and increasing exploitation

The declining quality of jobs, coupled with the increasingly exploitative conditions of work and insecurity of livelihood, are further devastating our youth.

New jobs are increasingly contractual jobs, not only in private companies but in central and state government as well. Temporary jobs on fixed term contracts, in banks, government agencies, hospitals, schools and universities – including key functions such as teachers, nurses, doctors and paramedics — are the norm. These workers enjoy no fixed working hours, no overtime payment or social security of any kind. The four Labour Codes that the central government is about to notify, will legalise this.

More and more youth are forced to work as gig workers and delivery workers, for retail giants such as Amazon, Big Basket, etc. They often work for more than 12-14 hours a day, rushing to meet impossible targets set by the company. They stand to lose their jobs at a moment’s notice. The recent exposure of the conditions of work in the warehouses of Amazon in Gurgaon – where young women and men are being forced to work in the gruelling summer heat, without proper cooling or ventilation, standing for 6-8 hours at a stretch without even bathroom breaks – is an indication of what lies in store for millions of our youth.

Government schemes of skill development are nothing but schemes to enable various private companies to whom these services are outsourced, to extort crores of rupees from youth with the promise of a job; promises that are never fulfilled.

Way forward

Youth are made to fight among each other for the handful of seats in educational institutions and jobs that are available, on the basis of caste and religion. State organised communal violence and state terror is unleashed on our youth, to break their fighting unity and terrorise them into submission. Youth who refuse to accept this situation and come forward to fight to change it, are branded “terrorists” and locked up indefinitely in jails under draconian laws such as the UAPA.

The capitalist class, headed by the biggest monopolies, which is ruling our country, has no solution to the problems of the youth. The present economic system, which is geared towards enriching the biggest capitalists, while driving the working masses into destitution and ruin, can only lead to the youth being further deprived of the right to education and a secure livelihood. The present political system, in which the masses of toiling people are completely marginalised with no decision-making power, renders the youth utterly powerless to change their conditions.

The ruling capitalist class wants the youth to submit to the existing situation and keep hoping in vain that by voting for a different government in the next round of elections, their problems will be solved.

The Communist Ghadar Party of India is of the view that the crisis facing our youth can be resolved only by ending the rule of the capitalist class headed by the monopoly capitalists, and establishing workers’ and peasants’ rule. Worker and peasant youth must come forward and establish a new political system in which the toiling masses will be the decision-makers. Educating and nurturing our children and youth will be a priority in this system, guaranteed by its new Constitution. The economy must be re-oriented to fulfil the ever-growing needs of the masses, not to enrich the super-rich capitalist houses. An economy geared to fulfil the needs of all members of society will generate sufficient productive and remunerative employment for all the youth.

This is the only way out of the crisis burdening our youth today.

Severe crisis facing masses of youth (2024)
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