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JOB & CAREER: THE IRONY OF PROFESSIONALS, THEIR FAMILIES FROM LAGGARDS STATES OF INDIA

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    Recently when I was in Lucknow. My hometown. I met quite a few of my old school friends. Whom I had not met for an eon. It was nostalgic. Seeing them and their better-halves. Some of whom. I was interfacing for the first time in my life. Ever since they had got married. But, strangely, I couldn’t meet their children barring a few. As most of them had moved out, to either Mumbai, Bengaluru, Pune, Chennai, Hyderabad, Delhi-NCR and some even abroad. In pursuit of professional careers and greener pastures. But as a saving grace. I could meet the children of two of my friends. One in business and the other in politics. Both readying themselves. To take on the mantle from their father.  This got me thinking. As to why, all these children had to leave their hometown. Perhaps, it was in pursuit of their careers. And, in the process they had to leave behind their parents, many of them now old. In fact, what I came to know later was. They had to leave their homes much earlier and way before. They even started their professional careers. First for professional education and then for jobs. This brings me to the sad point. That most of my friends are now living alone, with their spouses. 

    Post, India’s independence. When Jawahar Lal Nehru became the Prime Minister of India. He towed with an interesting idea of having one ‘heavy Industry’ in every district. That could have given employment and career opportunities to many, locally. But, unfortunately the bright idea never saw the light of the day. Perhaps, Nehru had realised. Though India is an agrarian society. Agriculture alone will not be able to take the load of its population explosion. From around thirty crore then. To a hundred and twenty five now.

    Meanwhile, some smart states of India. Driven by their vibrant and entrepreneurial combo of PBEs (politicians-bureaucrats-entrepreneurs). Took lead in developing pockets of industrial corridors in their states. That served as an early bird advantage. Such pockets came up mainly in the states of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Punjab, Delhi, parts of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. To name a few, soon after independence. This now gives them, an exponential edge over other states. That did not follow suit, only to become laggard states. And, how quickly and craftily. The business savvy PBE of these states also realised. That Industry and entrepreneurship should not be close to the seat of power that is Delhi. Therefore they made Mumbai the financial and business hub of India. Now let’s see what happened to some other big key states of India after independence.

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    Let us start with Bengal. A front line state of India then. Much promoted and hyped as a business-savvy state by the Britishers. But, it stopped thinking about business. The moment Stalin, Lenin and Marx started parading the streets of Bengal. The tremors of which were felt in the entire North East. When existing businesses started closing down and new ones feared to enter. The age old  and much hyped Bengal centric boast of, “What Bengal thinks today, India will think tomorrow,’ died down. Entrepreneurial drive vanished. In fact, on a lighter vein. I even remember a joke that goes on as follows:

    ‘What will happen if you give a dozen Bananas each. To a needy Punjabi, Bengali or a person from the Hindi heartland of UP-Bihar? The most likely answer would be. Bengali will eat all the bananas in one go, UP-Bihar will eat six and save six for the next meal and Punjabi would eat six and sell six. And ergo, that sizes it up, quite well.

    But, what happened to Bihar including the present day Jharkhand. And Uttar Pradesh including Uttarakhand. The political nerve centre of India. Is historically amazing, and to be more precise, pathetic. We have had eight Prime Ministers from Uttar Pradesh. They all have served India including UP and Bihar for 44 years. But still U.P. is where it was-Laggard. Further, many important portfolios under these Prime Ministers have been held by great stalwarts as ministers from Bihar. But still, Bihar is where it was- both backward and laggard. Except, for adding a few new trains as a royalty of sorts. Not much has been done for these states by these ministers. In fact a stray Integral Coach Factory that was once gifted to Allahabad, was also handed over by Mrs Indira Gandhi to Kapurthala during Punjab agitation to please the Sikhs. When easily she could have announced any other project. Or given an additional coach factory to Punjab, or could have announced something in return, for Allahabad. But she did nothing of that sort.

    UP-Bihar is a typical case of Chirag tale andhera. U.P. only knows how to make Prime Ministers. Which is an old loaded pride of the state. In return. These Prime Ministers who hailed from Uttar Pradesh genuinely thought of serving and developing India. But not the state of U.P. as a whole, where they hailed from. On the contrary they only focused on their own constituencies for development and that too. Not in a professional manner. And never ever concentrated on the entire state. For example take the case of Rae-Bareilly. It has been the bastion of Gandhi family for decades. But is still nothing to pride upon, even after so many years. Specifically, if we were to compare it with Baramati. The bastion of Sharad Pawar.

    The other point that comes to my mind was the combo of PBE in UP-Bihar. That never worked in unison and ran their own agendas. Unlike the ones in the advanced states. Where entrepreneurial bench marking, economic progress and educational sufficiency of the state was an important cardinal rule, irrespective of which party ruled. Truly, a tacit understanding. And, in all of this. The much complacent populace of these states also need to be blamed. As they never demanded the best out of their PBEs. Rather, they kept smiling at whatever they got. Not realising that their children, one day will have to face the brunt of all this.

    And, last but not the least. Netas from UP-Bihar did not fare well in business, entrepreneurial and industrial astuteness. They never had a hidden string of understanding among themselves, while they belonged to several parties. To take their state on the path of progress. As compared to their counterparts from advance states. Where they also bickered. But when it came to intrinsic issues about the progress of state. They joined cause and had some form of understanding and unity. In fact netas from UP-Bihar were far ahead in political brinkmanship. But that only helped their party, themselves personally and their family and friends.

    In domino effect. I’m sure the present generation of job seekers and professionals from the laggard states must be asking. Why Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, UP and Uttarakhand are not like Maharashtra, Gujarat, or Karnataka? What have the dynamic combo of PBEs of these advanced states done which our PBEs couldn’t do?   When will people from Mumbai, Bengaluru and Gurgaon come to work in Lucknow, Patna and Ranchi. And more specifically when will I get a chance to work in Ranchi, Patna, Lucknow and more specifically my hometown. The harsh answer remains the same. Not during their lifetime. But I don’t rule out miracles.

By Kamlesh Tripathi

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Glamour, showbiz, One-upmanship- the veiled face of Facebook

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Kamlesh Tripathi

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‘A steadfast and voracious facebooker’ – is what I called him, till I met this old friend of mine Harish, recently in Mumbai, is when I came to know he’s gone off Facebook. I swallowed what he told me with a pinch of salt as it sounded quite incredible. Did he? I reminisced. And asked why? He replied.

‘Because you brag without being asked to. For how does it matter where you’ve been for a holiday, which car you drive, in what kind of a house you stay, how well connected you are both professionally and socially. How many jobs you’ve changed, how exquisite your new office looks, how you look in that dress, how many promotions you’ve got, your career path or even your designation. Or how grand was your birthday party, how well groomed and aristocratic you look while standing in that plush lounge of Mumbai or John F Kennedy airport or in that swanky lobby of a five star; and the number of flights you may have undertaken last week to show how busy you are, or how big and pedigreed is your dog or for that matter the brand, colour and size of your underpants?’ As all of this is fairly bugging.

‘But then what is so wrong about bragging? One can only brag, if one is accomplished and has possessions and achievements to show around.’ I enumerated.

‘Definitely, but not by making a public announcements. It’s like inviting everyone to snoop into your worthy life. I value the privacy of my achievements and possessions and would like to limit it to my family, relatives and some close friends. But in the Facebook, I find most talk only about their newly acquired possessions and achievements of life, and that to just for some digital ‘likes’ and appreciative comments.

CULT OF FACEBOOK

Point made by Harish had rattled me for a moment, as there was a point in his point. Is Facebook taking us away from our vedic and ancient culture of sadgi (simplicity). And will Bapu, the strong supporter of non-violence and sadgi like and approve of this. I thought for an instant, as all websites have a domain culture; where members of Facebook appear to be drifting away from simplicity. Facebook, allows anyone above the age of 13 to open an account, and after registering the users can create a user profile, post status updates, pictures, share videos and receive notifications when others update their profiles. Also, users may join common-interest user groups, organized by workplace, school or college, or other characteristics and categories such as people from work or close friends. So the intent is very noble, exciting, knowledge building, innovative with perks of a global reach. But, I guess the gravity is moving towards mere showoff and showbiz. And, it is about time the members come up with something more mentally nourishing where Facebook can chart the way. Remember what our ancestors always said, ‘don’t brag and showoff- nazar lagti hai

IS BRAGGING … GRADUATING TO A REIGNING CULTURE IN FACEBOOK?

Yes as most notifications in Facebook, are about self aggrandizement and digital announcements of achievement and accomplishments. Perhaps the longing vent of modern day etiquette better understood in otherwise traditionally starved India; and that insinuates about Facebook’s gravitational pull towards newfound consumerism of India. I guess it is now a war of between two cultures; the ancient aging culture of India that teaches you sadgi versus the materialistic web-culture mobilized via Facebook. Sure enough the soft world is taking on the hard world and maybe reason enough for China to ban Facebook?

A converse point of view also describes the young emerging India through Facebook that brings along day to day transparency by digitally describing even minor activities through notifications, pictures and videos which at times might even put your spouse in trouble for those occasional furloughs. And, last but not the least.

Harish needs to get back to Facebook. But no one shall tell him when, as he will figure out for himself, the smart bloke he is. I know him well enough and he is not the sort to give up something so easily- and that too his first love, Facebook. For I know he will still login at broader intervals to see how the war of cultures is brewing and the day he feels the tangy slant of cultures has lessened he will write again, what’s in his mind. To once again bring cheer, laughter, knowledge, information and accomplishments to others and that too in abundance.

ARTICLE: THE HYPE OF #LITERACY AND DILEMMA OF #EMPLOYABILITY

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DEFINITION OF LITERACY

    Literacy, as defined in Census operations, is the ability to read and write with understanding in any language. A person who can merely read but cannot write is not classified as literate. Any formal education or minimum educational standard is not necessarily to be considered literate.

    (UNESCO) has drafted a definition of literacy which is, “the ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate, compute and use printed and written materials associated with varying contexts. Literacy involves a continuum of learning in enabling individuals to achieve their goals, to develop their knowledge and potential, and to participate fully in their community and wider society.”

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    The National Literacy Mission defines literacy as “acquiring the skills of reading, writing and arithmetic and the ability to apply them to one’s day-to-day life. The achievement of functional literacy implies (i) self-reliance in 3 R’s-reading, writing and arithmetic, (ii) awareness of the causes of deprivation and the ability to move towards amelioration of their condition by participating in the process of development, (iii) acquiring skills to improve economic status and general well being, and (iv) imbibing values such as national integration, conservation of environment, women’s equality, observance of small family norms.”

    According to the latest report released on 31 March 2011 the literacy rate of India has increased to 74%. This means a decadal growth of around 10 %.

BUT CAN MERE LITERACY GUARANTEE EMPLOYMENT?

Is the moot point, as literacy only provides general ability to read, write and a sense of better awareness, but jobs, require deeper and varied skills that need to be created. In the recent Times Ascent edition of 27th November, I read; in the just concluded PAN-IIM World Management Conference held at IIM-KOZHIKODE our HRD Minister Smriti Zubin Irani harping on some appreciative facts about India as a routine lullaby.

    That India is one of the world’s largest democracies and according to some studies 57% of our population is under 30. Our average age is expected to be less than China and the US by 2050. This means more workers, or in other words, a demographic dividend. India has a large pool of workforce that is predominantly English-speaking. 4.4 million Graduates join the Indian job market annually, so there is no shortage of skilled workers in our country. So be it.

    But then do we have appropriate jobs for all as she has not spoken about those unpleasant figures of unemployment. ILO indicates sluggishness in the job market over the last two years where jobless rate could be around 3.8% this year which sounds optimistic. On a more historic note the unemployment rate has been hovering around 6-8 % on an average over the last decade or so. So, can one say, each time when literacy levels have gone up unemployment hasn’t come down?

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    This necessitates, we should take up skill building on fast track. Which horrifyingly comes up in India at a later stage of our educational system. And considering, the alarming school dropout rate of 40% with more girls facing the brunt, this should start at secondary school level.

CAUSE OF SYSTEMIC WORRY

    It is worrying to see, important ministers making isolated parroted statements in coveted milieus like IIMs and IITs, where even otherwise everything is hunky dory. And it goes without saying the stark reality continues to remain as it is and nothing much has changed on the ground. So the big question is how will the additional annual workforce of 4.4 million per annum be adjusted in the job market, and what is the road map for creating such jobs each year. Time has come when at least 74% of the literate Indians would want to know end-to-end on how these jobs would be created, before one brags about the English speaking workforce of 4.4 million and the young India. The central point therefore is the job-creators and the workforce creators of India need to meet on one platform to align, which is still missing.

    In any case most IIT and IIM graduates or post graduates won’t remain unemployed, rather would be gainfully employed. But what is more worrying is the lower end of the pyramid that will bear the brunt of unemployment.

    Considering the present unemployment rate. HRD minister would have done well by initiating a dialogue with those states and departments where huge vacancies are lying unfilled, especially teachers and police constables. The low hanging fruits. Which I guess is also the baby of HRD ministry. Needful to mention teacher appointments in some states have been subjected to scams, and appointments cancelled subsequently.

INDUSTRY INTERFACE

    One of the biggest sources of employment in any country, with India being no exception is through business and industries. Where, according to the World Bank we are still at an agonizing 142 in the ease of doing business out of 189 countries. And time taken for registration of a business is currently at 27 days that needs to be cut down to one day, as in Canada and New Zealand.

    Government intends to go online on approvals, for over 200 state and central permits by April next year which is laudable. Currently 81 state level clearances and another 133 at the central level are being put on line and out of these more than 50 relate to railway ministry, alone. But the big question remains; whether we can set up industries at a pace matching 4.4 million jobs a year, which will only increase by leaps and bounds. The answer as of now is no and that necessitates searching for other alternatives. And so; where is the MEA proposal (Ministry of External Affairs) if we were to export our workforce to various aging countries about which our Prime Minister talks so often? And which new countries have been identified where our young English speaking workforce can go and work safely with proper work permits and visas, in a safe manner. I guess, the two distinguished ladies Sushma Swaraj and Smriti Irani should meet on this agenda and at least identify the countries, and if for some reason it happens to be Germany, Smriti should not think of replacing German by Sanskrit.

THE ROUTE AHEAD

    For brand India, literacy to full employment will be a long and arduous walk, considering its size and scale. Where, premier institutions such as IIT and IIM should also brainstorm to show the way out. And we will have to figure out other avenues also, where I guess PM Narendra Modi’s team needs to come together on one platform.

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By Kamlesh Tripathi

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