Lucknow: It has been five years since the vacancy was released, and the applicants who applied for the Junior Engineer (JE) post under the Uttar Pradesh Public Subordinate Services Selection Commission (UPSSSC) continue to wait.
Sitting at the Eco Park in Lucknow since November 26 2022, the JE applicants are now tired and approaching the final stage of their protest. After protesting for nearly 200 days, the protesters are now sending letters to the governor, CM Office, and different departments responsible for filling these posts, stating, “Either give us our results and complete our recruitment or take responsibility for our suicide.”
The candidates believe that their posts are lower in number compared to other positions under the UPSSSC, leading the government to neglect them. They feel that the other positions have a larger number, making it more convenient for the government to showcase their achievements in employment. However, since their post count is lower, they feel neglected.
A Brief Background
The protests began on Constitution Day, with a total of around 500 applicants gathering to register their protest. However, the numbers gradually decreased as everyone had their own problems. According to Mayur Verma, the leader of the protests, at least 30 applicants have remained constant at the protest site since November.
The Junior Engineer (JE) position was specifically introduced for diploma holders who specialised in technical fields like agriculture and civil. The eligibility criteria included completing high school followed by a three-year diploma course. Since the fee for the diploma course was much lower compared to pursuing a bachelor’s or BTech degree, many students from financially disadvantaged backgrounds opted to complete this course and still be recognised as engineers.
The history of this vacancy tells a different story. The first vacancy, released in February 2016, was completed by 2017. In the same year, another vacancy for 385 posts was declared, and the recruitment process began. However, this time, there was a much longer delay, and the final document verification took place between February and April 2022. Since then, applicants for the 2016 vacancy have been awaiting a joining date and a final merit list after document verification.
While the recruitment process for the 2016 vacancy was ongoing, the government released another vacancy for the same JE post in 2018, with the number of vacant positions increasing to 1,477. Applicants saw this as a good opportunity to improve their situation — especially those who had not been able to fill a post under the 2016 vacancy or were uncertain about the later one released in the same year. Little did they know that the fate of this vacancy would be as blurry as the vision of a myopic eye. After a long wait of over four years, recruitment exams were finally conducted in April 2022. However, since then, students have been waiting for the results, as for many of them, this is their last chance.
‘Left Private Jobs, Stranded Now’
As mentioned earlier, most of these students do not come from very affluent families and are therefore compelled to take up other jobs while they prepare for exams or wait for their results. One such student is Ankit, who has been a part of the protest at Eco Park consistently.
Ankit’s financial condition has not been very good, and his family has been pressurising him to leave Lucknow and come back home “so that they could marry him off”. But Ankit has stayed at the protest site, hoping that this time he would get the job. “It has been six months now, and the situation is grimmer than ever,” says Ankit.
Similar is the case for others. Mayur Verma has been leading the protest and spoke with NewsClick regarding what he has observed throughout his own journey. “You know, one thing that has remained constant is that none of the authorities has ever responded well or even tried to take cognisance of this matter. Every time we have filed a complaint, the response has been the same. The authorities have said that our matter has been taken into consideration and they will look into it. But the matter never proceeds from there. We write another letter and yet again, receive the same reply,” claimed Verma.
Verma himself has been preparing from Prayagraj since 2013. In the recruitment drive for the 2016 vacancy, he was disqualified at the interview stage, and the 2018 vacancy was “his last chance” to fulfil his dream. “It is not like I have not worked elsewhere; I have worked across Uttar Pradesh with several private companies as a site engineer and built several powerhouses.” When asked about his preference for a government job despite his experience, he pointed to the prestige that accompanies government jobs — as opposed to the taboo associated with private jobs.
“We come from a very orthodox background. In our family and social circle, anyone in a private job is worth nothing. I was earning well in the private job and had moved up to earning a salary of Rs 35,000. But still, if I have a government job with a lesser salary, I will be more satisfied because of the importance it brings,” he said. Such a taboo exists in smaller towns and tier two and three cities, compelling the applicants to pursue government jobs only and wait for them for years, even if they remain without a job, said the applicants.
Talking about the support their protest has received in the past couple of months, Verma said, “In this difficult time, many have helped us too. Independent organisations, youth movements, and opposition party leaders like Akhilesh Yadav have stood with us. But we have always looked up to the central government and the state government to bring a solution to us, which they have failed to do.”
One of the people to reach out to these students was Yuva Halla Bol’s working president, Govind Mishra. In a conversation with NewsClick, he said, “I believe that not just their matter, but every individual’s story is tragic. Some students travel 100 km to reach the protest site every week, some are in a terrible financial state, and others have their own problems.” Govind demanded that the government take conduct exams as per the Model Exam Code and fill the vacancies in nine months’ time so that the students do not face such problems for no fault of theirs.
Women applicants who have been waiting for the results narrate their stories that are also shaped by the weight of social pressures, some of which are worse due to their gender.
Rinku Shrivastava, who applied for the exam in the year 2018, could not sustain the pressure from her family and eventually got married. Even though she awaits the results still, she will not be able to take the job since she just had her second child and will have to take care of the family. In other cases as well, women were called back home.
In this context, however, Nidhi Singh’s case is remarkable. Coming from a farmer’s family with limited land, she had to settle for a diploma due to financial constraints, despite aspiring to study B Tech or obtain a bachelor’s degree. Nidhi’s journey was challenging, as she faced discrimination while seeking technical jobs, being denied opportunities based on her gender. Instead, she had to work as a receptionist, feeling the impact of societal biases. Despite her determination, Nidhi faced pressure from her family to get married, and eventually, her younger sibling was married off.
She says that she has not spoken with her family since she has refused to give in to their demand. “My father was really hopeful about my job and was proud of me, but ultimately, even he gave in to the societal pressure,” said Nidhi. At the age of 32, she awaits the results of her current job application, with no opportunity to apply for the next vacancy.
According to the applicants, they are currently in the final stages of their protest. They say they are sending letters to all the authorities, stating that this will be their last letter. On June 6, candidates plan to meet with officials and submit letters to them in several districts. On June 13, they plan to hold a massive protest at Eco Park in Lucknow.