Angry students at Birsa Agricultural University on Wednesday confronted state agriculture minister Randheer Kumar Singh with a question: Where are the jobs?
The minister had gone to attend the 39th foundation day event of the varsity in Kanke. When he was leaving after delivering his speech, around 50 students were waiting outside the auditorium to pepper him with questions such as why no student from Jharkhand’s only agriculture university has got a state government job for the last 20 years, and what future could they look forward to with such a bleak placement record.
The minister tried to duck the barrage by saying that he wishes for the students’ good academic performance. Agriculture, he said, is the priority sector of the government and steps are being taken to provide employment opportunities for students. He said that vice-chancellor Parvinder Kaushal would address the students’ concerns.
The students were not in the mood to be swayed by perfunctory assurances. They raised slogans against the minister and the vice-chancellor, and followed the minister till he reached his car.
“The last recruitment was done in 1989,” said Varunesh Kumar, a former student of the university, who secured a gold medal in 2016 for academic excellence. “In 2015, the government had started the recruitment process for 450 block agriculture officers through the Jharkhand Public Service Commission. The preliminary test was successfully conducted. But two days before the mains examination, the recruitment was cancelled without citing any reason. Students of B.Sc (agriculture) are the worst victims.”
Ruplal Prasad, a current student, said the university’s alumni can be the backbone of an agriculture revolution in the state.
“But then we are neglected,” Prasad said. “Where we will display our skills if employment opportunities are not given to us? Jharkhand’s achievement in agriculture is only on paper. The government may be opening new research centres and colleges for agriculture studies in the state but there is employment opportunity for students. We are under pressure of our parents to get jobs. Now we feel that we made a mistake by opting to study agriculture. Every year the minister visits BAU during the foundation day programme and assures to look into our matter, so today we decided to protest.”
A group of students from veterinary and allied subjects, who were also part of the protest on Wednesday, said the state has 16 Krishi Vigyan Kendras, each with six teaching faculty and scientists, but veterinary and allied sciences students are not deemed qualified for recruitment in the Kendras.
The varsity runs a number of courses such as animal husbandry, forestry, biotechnology, fisheries, agri-business management and horticulture. There are six colleges under the varsity, of which four are agricultural colleges, one is a veterinary college and the other is a forestry college. There are over 600 students at the varsity.
The angst at BAU is not isolated. The unemployment rate in India rose to 7.2 per cent in February 2019, the highest since September 2016, and up from 5.9 per cent in February 2018, according to data compiled by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy and released in March this year.