It was on March 22, nearly two months after India recorded its first Covid case, that Prime Minister Narendra Modi broadcast an appeal to the nation to clang our plates and utensils and clap loudly to motivate those fighting Corona.
So it was on September 5, when hundreds of government job aspirants clanged and banged and clapped on the terraces, balconies and verandahs of their homes, for five minutes at 5 pm. Claiming inspiration from Modi’s technique, they were protesting the Union government’s slow and interminable process of job recruitment even in the midst of crisis.
The nationwide “wake up call” for the government was organised by Yuva Halla Bol, a youth organisation founded two years ago “during the spontaneous nationwide youth upsurge against [the Staff Selection Commission] scam”.
Just a few days before, on September 2, protesting students inundated Twitter with the tag #SpeakUpForRailwayStudents, with over 3 million posts in support of the students.
Yuva Halla Bol, which claims to involve 60 organisations nationwide
, have published a Model Exam Code for the government to follow making these principal demands:
– The entire process of every government job recruitment should be completed within nine months
– Government should announce the examination date for Railway Recruitment Board’s Non-Technical Popular Categories for Group D
– Recruitment for SSC’s CGL, CHSL and MTS should be completed as soon as possible.
“When we all are facing unusual situations because of a pandemic, we are fighting our battle on social media platforms. Currently, our movement is in momentum: the government has announced tentative dates of results but this is not the sole motive of our fight. At this moment we all have to unite,” said Rajat Yadav, a government job aspirant and team member of Yuva Halla Bol.
He said the movement has received support from the Youth Congress, Left organisations, the Samajwadi Party, Swaraj India, and individuals including former IAS officers and MPs. “Teachers are also a part of this movement. Approximately 95% teachers are in support of this movement,” he said.
In a press note, YHB founder Anupam stated that the government “is showing apathy towards this Corona pandemic. We are organising this protest to wake up this government… This is our thanks to the teachers who cared about our problem and talked fiercely for this, and second to grab the government’s attention towards the high unemployment among youth.”
The note states that the slump of 23.9% in GDP is historic, and not a figure only but a symbol of the mire of business, wages and lives of thousands of people.
Rajnish Jha, who runs a coaching centre for SSC government exams in Patna, is one of the teachers in the movement.
“Students who took tuition in 2016 are still coming to classes because of the delay in results. Bihar’s SSC 10+2 exams forms were released in 2014. Its PT exams were held in 2018, and this year we get tentative exam dates for mains,” he said.
“In Bihar, the number of government job aspirants is very high. Their parents come from less-income professions like farming and auto drivers. They are talented and good in education, but because of the government's delay they are facing a huge crisis, economically and mentally too.”
“The government is now also worried, they are receiving dislikes and closing their YouTube channel’s comment section,” he added.
According to Jha there are grave concerns about upcoming job opportunities. “Government is declining the number of posts every year. Recently the Railways surrendered 50% of existing vacancies because of COVID. Similarly, the Haryana government also froze all new posts for one year.”
Asked about their future plans if the government fails to respond, he promptly replied, “We will gather all the students of the nation. We are also planning to hold a webinar called Pariksha pe Charcha (Exam Talk, based on Modi’s radio show Mann ki Baat) and one called Exam Warriors.”
“We will bring our fight onto the roads when the Corona situation normalises,” Jha explained.
After the protest the Ministry of Railways sprung into action and officially announced the dates for computer-based tests by posting a video and tweets from Minister Piyush Goyal. They said that tests for three types of vacancies, NTPC, Level 1 and Isolated and miscellaneous categories will begin from December 15.