On 2nd September 2012, New Socialist Alternative – Pune organized a discussion on ‘Unemployment’. Earlier, we campaigned extensively to publicize the event producing 500 leaflets and around 80 A3 size posters covering 8 colleges in the city. In response, 34 students from different colleges turned up, apart from the members of the New Socialist Alternative (CWI-India) which added up the figure to 42.
In the meeting Com. Youvraj introduced the discussion on ‘unemployment’ presenting a brief historical view on how the very concept of ‘employment’ emerged with certain class monopolising over the means of production. Later on, discussion moved on to explain how the sole motive of profit pursued by capitalists not only limits number of jobs generated, but in reality kills them. Other issues touched upon during the lead off were casualisation of labour, anarchic situation prevailing in the society where things are left to market forces. Following an hour-long lead-off, the floor was opened for a debate that saw students vigorously participating in it. Various issues popped up in the debate. Few drew attention to the current violence at Manesar, while two students (Smita & Abhishek) brought into the discussion important issues like caste, women oppression that are inextricably linked to issue of exploitation of labour and unemployment.
In the second session, Com. Abhijit opened up discussion on Education. He articulated how commercialization of education has betrayed a whole of generation of youth. Most of the private colleges are milking the students by offering so-called job-oriented courses at hefty prices. Student’s often fall pray to such advertising and enrol to such courses only to be dumped once they finish their courses.
In the debate that followed students shared their experiences as to how they were deceived by many such institutes. Vikas (MA student) narrated his own story where after coming to Pune from a humble village in Vidarbha (eastern Maharashtra) he had to struggle for years before getting a job. Jayprakash (BA student) shared similar story of one of his friends. Another issues that came up and saw an extensive debate was that of competitive exams such as MPSC (Maharashtra Public Service Commission) and UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) in particular. Literally lakhs of students not only appear for the exam but many of them spend lakhs of rupees each in preparing for the exam only to be disappointed at the end.
Com. Sunil aptly pointed that youths in the society are in conditions that is akin to slavery as they do not have freedom to choose what to do but are compelled to engage in this rat race and do what an elite class in the society would want them to do. Abhijit drew attention to another important aspect that Education imbibes a value system in youths that precludes any collective thinking of social problems like unemployment and instead look at them as individual problems that can be overcome by running still faster, jumping still higher. Com. Sarika drew attention to the issue of child labour where extreme poverty forces them to abandon their education and labour for longer hours.
In this 3 hour discussion, we screened a 5 minute clipping from film Berojgaar and around 20 mn clip from Charlie Chaplin’s ‘Modern Times’. We briefly discussed how ruling class would like to hide the real reasons for unemployment and instead make us fight over fictitious and fabricated stories of how immigrants are taking away our jobs. Towards the end, we impressed upon the point that unemployment is essentially a social problem (and not an individual), faced by youths not only in Maharashtra or India but all over the world and hence it is imperative for us to engage in collective understanding of the situation and come up with collective methods to deal with it.