The term ‘workforce’ officially comprises of those who are actually working as well as those who are looking for work. I have been encountering this definition for a while now, but these days, I feel like it’s getting a little personal for me, considering that people at close quarters are ‘looking for jobs’. So, they get the advantage of being a part of the workforce without really getting any advantage. I don’t know who gave this definition, and well, even if it does make sense for the people who are genuinely looking for jobs, it leaves a gap in the form of those who want to remain unemployed despite projecting themselves as potential employees. It is not a problem linked to individuals..it envelopes our rich demographic dividend, which we are unable to reap because of lack of jobs. India cannot be compared with, say Yemen, but it does not mean that jobs should not or can not be created. If China can do it, so can we. But the question is, have we done it?

There’s a perception that pursuing higher studies in India is easier than pursuing higher studies abroad, because of the amount of investment (in terms of lengthy applications, recommendation letters and of course, money) involved. But now I am getting to know the real reason people not only leave their Indian jobs, but they probably decide to never come back once they have set foot on an alien soil. This brings me to the second myth that I had in mind: it is mighty difficult to repay education loans worth Rs 1.5crore [More impactful than $40,000 ;)]. People repay their loans by doing simple jobs there, and another real case study made me realise that it is not very difficult to get these jobs, because most people in the academia are considerate enough to remember that he or she is an international student from a developing country. Why would the student not want to earn and live there? Patriotism aside, everyone wants a good, happy life at the end of the day. It is pitiful that in India, most people go to their jobs grudgingly (Yes I have statistics to back my statement upon..but I don’t want to be untruthful right now, so I am skipping stats). For an Indian, a lucrative job and an easier (if not easy) life is far more attractive than he or she could have hoped for, because almost every Indian knows what ‘survival of the fittest’ means. At the lower rungs of the egalitarian society, poverty has given rise to a form of slavery that goes unpunished: slavery to the fight for survival. Slavery in this case is a reward, and that’s tragic.

I was really moved by this documentary called ‘Little Big People’, which is about Mumbai’s super-talented street children. All thanks to my brother who made me watch it. It was really entertaining because it made me realise again, the value of valuing small things of beauty over big ‘achievements’. And it was really sad because I can’t even imagine a life like that, let alone live it. It’s easy for me to dream, and fulfill most of my dreams. Of course we have all heard about and seen street children. They are everywhere. But there’s this invisibility cloak that-if I may say so-shelters them. Otherwise how is it that they are able to sleep under the stars, but on the pavement. It’s like a wish getting half-fulfilled. A glass that always remains half-empty, and yet half-full. It is ironical that those who have a roof over their heads crave night-outs in the open desert or on a rooftop under the sky (and pay exorbitant amounts for it), while there are people who sleep comfortably amidst insecurity, because they live their lives on an edge, always ready to fall. Their simplest wish: to eat like ‘those rich people’ do. Their grandest wish: to become educated and become a bada aadmi. I don’t know how correct I am, but I have started to believe that education is the most important thing in life. It is more important than knowing 10 varieties of food and wine. It’s a different thing that I fail to establish a relationship between them: does education create the means to get food or does food create the means to get education?

These children are innocent, and ignorant. Ignorance really is a bliss, for if they were educated enough, they would know that for all they do not know, they would all have to be meritorious  in order to get a decent job when they grow up. How can everybody be meritorious? Whatever happens to the Capability Approaches of our economists when it comes to policy formulations? Every person is unique, and these children made me re-realise that we all have a different set of talents. The truth is, it is lonely at the top. There are a very few toppers. If every employer (and may I say, every bride’s parents) will search for a topper, the workforce shall soon have a majority of the people who are ‘looking for jobs/grooms’. As if marks were not enough, experience counts. No wonder, the new emphasis is on self-employment. But it is also important to keep these new jobs safe (sustainable development?) till they become (g)old, otherwise our little stars won’t wake up from their dreamworld: a world created on makeshift beds that are made of rags spread on dirty pavements. The present is painful enough, but the past should not repeat itself in the future. No, this is not the future we envisage for anybody’s children. High time we ensured and secured their basic right to a healthy, safe and secure (and of course, fun) childhood, and consequently, majority of their human rights.

“Children are not things to be moulded, but people to be unfolded”

-Jess Lair

 

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