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The B.Tech delivery boy at JMI

Knock, knock. Since I was waiting for the delivery I was certain it would be him. He handed me my meal and as I thanked him, I asked him was he studying. The delivery boy replied that he had completed his B.Tech in 2014 and had been looking for a job since then. Unable to find one he had been working as a delivery boy. Reluctantly, I asked “Where did you do your engineering from?” I was expecting an unfamiliar name of some obscure institute or college where placements are difficult. He answered “I studied at the very university where you are studying right now - Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi”.

For those who don’t know much about Jamia, it is a NAAC Grade A Central University, and according to the engineering department’s Wikipedia page: In 2012, it was placed 21st among top engineering colleges of India by India Today and 12th by The Week. In a 2013 ranking it was the 55th, according to The Outlook magazine. Before the B.Tech delivery boy left, he murmured “Every employer asks for experience”.

Indeed a big challenge for the fresh graduates today is the gap between the university and the industry. Earlier I felt that the talent which our university nurtures either gets absorbed in low-paying jobs, or in Wipro and AEGIS call centres, (keeping aside the few Rs 6-8 lakh per year package students whom the university tends to advertise), but I never knew that it was providing work force for delivery companies as well. I don’t intend to demean the job position, but considering the fact that per delivery the B.Tech Delivery boy earns Rs30, I think the situation is alarming.

I am no expert in career counseling. We have a placement cell at Jamia that specialises in it, but I wish to offer a suggestion. What if Jamia starts providing the first industrial experience to its students within the campus itself? Students from departments such as hotel management can be absorbed in the provost office and hospitality department as Jamia has hostels, mess, canteens and its own guest house which are currently administered by heads of various academic disciplines such as Islamic Studies and Turkish language. If one visits Jamia, it can be seen that Jamia is under construction and frequent renovation for which Jamia opens up tenders followed by contracts. Engineering, management and architecture students can prove to be a good resource for these jobs.

In a nutshell, why can’t the alma mater prove to be the first place for students to kickstart their career? While this suggestion might seem vague, they do offer food for thought for the authorities to munch on. (Daud Arif,  Department of Sociology, Jamia Millia Islamia - daud.arif@rocketmail.com)

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 August 2016 on page no. 12

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