Kotshamir village how, with an M.Phil.
under her arm, could she even think of
applying for a peon's job, she thrust the
rolled-up degree into my face and shouted,
"You take this and make two chapatis with
it every morning and every evening.
Can you do that?" Well, can you, dear reader?
How do you define desperation among the Punjabi youth? By the frequency with which they are climbing atop water tanks in Punjab, forcing meetings with the Chief Minister by threatening to otherwise jump from the tanks? Or by the obduracy of women protesters to stage sit-ins despite a history of Punjab Police cops raining lathis on them with a vengeance?
You can chose any measuring stick, but it will not be long enough to truly reflect the state of affairs. Not long ago, Bathinda had witnessed a crowd of 1200 turning up for eight posts of peons, among them girls with M.A. (Punjabi) and M.Phil (Economics) degrees in hand. Post graduates and LLBs applying for posts of peons is a common scene in Punjab. The Bathinda peon-aspirant rush had come within 48 hours of a similar crowd of 900 gathering for four posts of "piada" (process server, those who deliver summons) at the courts.
When I asked a girl who hailed from Kotshamir village how, with an M.Phil. under her arm, could she even think of applying for a peon's job, she thrust the rolled-up degree into my face and shouted, "You take this and make two chapatis with it every morning and every evening. Can you do that?"
I really wanted to sympathise with her, but could not. My sympathy lay with a bunch of girls huddled together in a far corner, hated by everyone else. These were girls who hade studied merely up to class 8th. "Bha'ji, eh degree walian naal sab nu hamdardi hai, saade naal kise nu nahi. Je enhna ne chaprasi lagna hai ta sarkar ne saanu afsar ta nahi laga dena (Everyone is sympathising with these girls with degrees. If they are to be made peons, then what will we do? Afterall, the government is not going to post us as officers.)
The frustrated educated unemployed arraigned against poor and ill educated unemployed. That's the tragedy of Punjab.
But even as one would have thought that the media would bring out such state of affairs to juxtapose the reality with the claims of politicians who incessently talk of malls and airports, a new generation of hacks is taking over.
On June 27, the Indian Express reported how for the posts of 1,200 constables, some 96,202 people from all over the country applied, a large majority from Punjab. Of these, 10,211 applications were from women.
Failing to see the levels of desperation and the index of unemployment, the ecstatic journalist gushed about the response being so impressive for the constable's job that even the very well qualified were dying to land it. The journalist even quoted SSP (headquarters) Alok Kumar saying, "The response for these posts is very good this time. Even the educational qualifications of the candidates are better...it was definitely huge this time."
Clearly, the media is now featuring a class of journalists who are devoid of any idea of the situation at the grassroots level, and whose notions of a democratic space are limited to the lobby of a mall in Chandigarh which they think is not only air conditioned but also open to all and therefore good for society.
Punjab and many other states have been repeatedly witnessing scenes of lathicharges and teeming crowds whenever there is an army recruitment camp organised in any town. Young teachers are found less in schools, more on dharnas asking the government for jobs when students go to teacher-less classrooms.
But all of this is happening when we are witnessing ever rising number of malls and multiplexes. Is there a connection between the number of flights to and from a city and the sense of insecurity among the populace?