Pune: They left their villages and small towns to pursue studies with dreams in their eyes of getting a well-paying and secure jobs. But the hopes of thousands of youth of Maharashtra, which is going for Assembly polls soon, lie shattered. Some say they feel trapped, as they are reluctant to head back to their villages.
Take the case of Ravi Meher, who starts his day with scanning classified advertisements in English and Marathi dailies of Pune. He is a Master’s in Economics from Savitribai Phule university in Pune. He has reduced his search in the job sections of the newspapers where generally small-time jobs, like clerks or helpers, are advertised.
"What is the use of my education if I don't have job? For how long can I ask my family for money? So, whatever job I get, I go for it," says Ravi.
Actually, Ravi is not originally from Pune. He hails from Ahmednagar district in North Maharashtra, and is in Pune since the past five years, when he came here for competitive exams.
Ravi’s story is the story of thousands of people flocking to Pune from rural parts of Maharashtra. They come here to prepare for competitive exams and if they do not make it, they end up either in small-time jobs or return to their native places for farming.
NewsClick met a group of such youths at the iconic Shanivarvada, headquarters of the Peshwa rulers in 18th century.
"You will find thousands of youths like me in Pune. Some spend five years or even 10 years to crack the competitive exams. I appeared for police sub inspector's final exam eight times, thrice for sales tax inspector final exam and twice for assistant section officer's final exam. But each time I failed. So, I am still appearing for exams as well as looking for a job," adds Ravi.
Government Job Vacancies
Ravis’ story has yet another important thread – unfilled vacancies in the government sector. There are thousands of vacant posts in government bodies in Maharashtra. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shiv Sena government had said they would have recruitment drives in all the departments of state government. They also announced a Mega Bharti (Recruitment) of 72,000 posts.
However, there are other pending recruitments of schoolteachers, court sand other departments.
"Had this ‘Mega Bharti’ happened, the current stress would have been less. What is happening today is that we are constantly under pressure for getting government jobs and are preparing for exams, and still nothing is happening on the government front. That is frustrating," says Dnyaneshwar Tupe, another young boy Newsclick met in Pune.
Dnyaneshwar belongs to Pune district and has been in the city since the past year. His landless father works as a farm labourer on daily wages. Despite economic hurdles, Dnyaneshwar has completed BA Politics.
"I see my seniors getting nothing even after studying for six to eight years. This kills our confidence, too. But what do we do? We have no option," he says.
Staying in Pune for studying is also expensive for these students, who mostly belong to rural areas. They are not children from financially strong backgrounds. Many of them, like Ravi or Dnyaneshwar, hail from families that are either small farmers or landless people. So, investing on studying is not easy for them.
The expenses are sometimes killing. Ashok Solunke has been in Pune since the past four years. He is also appearing for competitive exams. "I need around Rs 6,000-7,000 a month to stay in the city. We share rooms and books. But we need basic money for rent, tiffin. Asking for money from home is not possible every time. Therefore, we try to find any job that can fetch us a minimum amount. This affects our studies, too. It is vicious cycle we are caught in," says Ashok.
In this situation, returning to the village is a tough call. "Villagers, neighbours keep asking us about studies. What do we tell them? We have no answers. Many a time, we feel it is better not to go back," says Ravi, who visits his home once in six-nine months to meet his mother and brother.
Pune Industry Sector
There are various industries in cities such as Pune. When asked why they don't search for suitable jobs, the youths said there were no jobs there.
"Where are jobs? Forget government, there are jo jobs in private sector too. Very few openings. Nowadays we hear more about job cuts than hiring," says Rupesh Mohod, 28, from Akola district, who has done his MA in political science and is attemptiing competitive exams since the past six years.
Even if these youths do get jobs in the private sector, those are contractual and short-term. They get 10 to 17 days work in a month or sometimes work for three to five months regularly and then there is a gap. Obviously, this is clear attempt by companies to not open permanent posts, which would bring them under the ambit of labour laws.
"We study law. We do understand that this is cheating of labour laws. But what to do? How do we fight? We need jobs, even if for six months in a year. That helps us survive on our own money for those six months," says Mangesh Rathod, another youth from Osmanabad district, who has been studying in Pune since the past four years.
This, in a nutshell, is the on-ground plight of thousands of educated youth in Maharashtra. As they do not get jobs, they keep trying their luck in different exams. At the same time, they keep searching for private jobs. But success rate is highly unfair compared to their efforts. That's the story of rising unemployment in India, where marathon run for jobs never ends.