At Prayagraj coaching center, years spent waiting for a job, hoping for God or the government

“I have a question for Modiji and Yogiji who claim to have given jobs to crores. Just give us the distribution of these jobs. They will remain exposed,” says Mayank Rai, a native of Ghazipur, a B.Tech from Kanpur, who gave up a private job after three years to try to pass the Uttar Pradesh PCS (Provincial Civil Service) exams and join the Provincial Police Service.

Rai has been here at the Prayagraj Coaching Center for five years now and has been to PCS Mains three times without passing. “I only applied to the police,” says Rai, 29, still optimistic, 11 years short of the 40-year-old age limit.

For decades, Prayagraj and its satellite localities of Naini, Jhunsi and Phaphamau have been home to students like Rai – from backward eastern districts of UP in Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Uttarakhand – with aspirations of government employment . About 5 lakh students stay here, many of whom are enrolled in the roughly 2,000 centers, preparing for everything from elite IAS, IPS, PCS to lower-ranking government jobs like a police officer. This coaching center comes at far lower prices than places like Delhi and Lucknow.

the BJP’s “Sankalp Patra” for UP polls claims that since 2017, 5 lakh youths got government jobs in the state and 3 lakh contract jobs, “without any discrimination”. He also promises to fill all vacancies in the state government at the earliest.

A week before the vote in Prayagraj, during the fifth phase on February 27, these figures ring hollow. An echo of this was heard more than 200km away in Gonda on Saturday, where angry youths demanding army recruitment obstructed a rally by Union Defense Minister Rajnath Singh with slogans.

Recently, Prayagraj has been one of the places where protests have erupted against a change in the railway recruitment exams resulting in their postponement for the time being.

The BJP fielded Harshvardhan Bajpai, a sitting MP from a prominent political family. His main opponent is the leader of the youth wing of the Samajwadi party, Sandeep Yadav. The Yogi Adityanath government, which changed the name of the city from Allahabad to Prayagrajtakes credit for a lot of infrastructure work ahead of Kumbh 2018 here.

Avnish Pandey from Deoria came to Prayagraj in 1998 hoping to join the IAS. He reached the interview stage at the Civil Service Examination twice and at the PCS four times. Now 40 years old, he teaches in coaching institutes. He says he kept trying the above two services and didn’t look for any others. “But there are many exams you apply for and only God knows when the final results come in.”

Pandey would have been the first in his family to hold a government post. The same dream brought Suryakant Yadav from Pratapgarh here 21 years ago. Since then, he has obtained degrees in MSc (Maths), MA (Ancient History), LLB and BEd, and passed the TET (Teacher Eligibility Test), CTET (Central Teacher Eligibility Test) and a UGC NET in History. But only now does Yadav, 39, have a job. “I passed a hundred exams and I will finally join the position of junior assistant in the next few months.”

At the Amarnath Jha Hostel, which has produced several high-ranking officials, doctoral student Amarjit Singh says he’s had enough of exams being postponed again and again because of “leaks”. “I’m a strong supporter of the SP,” he says. “But paper leaks have happened under both SP and BJP, and they just pass the buck to each other.”

The last such the leak was TET paper in November 2021. The review was held again last month.
Students say it sometimes takes up to four years before final results are declared.

Pushpendra Pratap Singh, 36, got the job as a primary school teacher after spending more than 15 years here and still resides in Chhota Baghada, an area where most students live in cheap accommodation. He says the government seems to have turned exams into a way to generate revenue. “UPSC charges Rs 100 as a fee for the civil service examination aptitude test and Rs 200 for the sector. For PCS, the fee is Rs 125, for B.Ed entrance exam they charge Rs 1,500 and for TET Rs 1,200,” Singh lists.

About 5 lakh students applied for the B.Ed exam held in August 2021 at UP, more than 18 lakh for the TET last month, while nearly 10 lakh applied for the civil service aptitude test and nearly 7 lakh for PCS in 2021.

A response in the Lok Sabha on December 20, 2021, put teacher vacancies at almost 1.26 lakh in junior basic schools (1st to 5th grade) and upper basic schools (6th to 8th grade) managed by the UP Basic Education Board.

The data also shows how the administration is waking up ahead of the election. For example, the UP Police Recruitment and Promotion Board (UPPRPB), which mainly recruits sub-inspectors and constables. It published details on February 11 of vacancies advertised and recruitments made since 2017 – for 9,534 vacancies advertised in 2020, online testing took place in November-December last year; 1,329 positions were advertised in 2020 and online testing took place in December last year; and vacancies for 2,430 positions were not notified until January 6 this year, a few days before the announcement of the elections. The website adds that recruitment for around 1,700 positions is ongoing and that for 26,382 positions “tenders have been launched”.

The delay is on several levels. Tarun Singh, 29, obtained his BA-LLB in 2017 and is preparing for PCS-J (judicial service), which was last announced in 2018 and final selections for which were made in 2020.” Vacancies are not advertised. Whatever government comes in should make it their priority,” Singh said. During this time, he participated in the PCS-J exam of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi and Haryana.

Energy Minister Shrikant Sharma, who was previously a spokesman for the UP government, said: “We inherited several problems, but we made all recruitment systems transparent. If there is still a problem, we will also solve it, complete the recruitment in time.

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