Bachcha kabil bano, kabil... Kamyabi toh saali jhak maarke peeche bhagegi.
This extremely famous dialogue from the Bollywood blockbuster 3 Idiots is widely considered a gospel of God by many idiots who think that real life is as simple as reel life. You don't need to be good at something to land that dream job. As a matter of fact, companies are now making potential employees jump through hoops to land half-a-decent job.
For many graduates today, being an intern has become an additional step on an increasingly wobbly career ladder.
These days, a well rounded CV is one with a good amount of experience. But a company won't hire you until you have some experience. This is a classic case of catch-22. Nobody will hire you until you have the required experience but you won't get any experience until someone hires you.
Well, what do you do now? The answer is pretty obvious - internships.
Landing a desirable internship at a top company is a distant dream for a lot of students.
It's an extremely rocky road if you are to land an internship in the first place.
Firstly, you have to convince your parents that you actually need to do internships to do well in your career. After a million stressful conversations over the phone about this being your decision, they might finally give in. Secondly, not a lot of bigger companies offer internships where you learn some valuable industry skills.
India is a hard-working country. That's the best explanation for our incredibly high population and the flooding of almost every possible industry. So if a company wants something very basic to be done, they advertise the openings for interns. Once you're there, it makes no sense for the company to pay the interns because if you say no, they'll definitely find someone who'll agree to do it for free.
Internships in India are generally not for skill generation. If it's a job that can be done by multiple people, companies use their huge reputation and woo youngsters with the overrated 'certificate' some guys refer to as a Letter of Recommendation.
For every student who asks for stipend, there is always that one person who is willing to do it for free. And this absolutely destroys any remaining chance of a respectable stipend.
Lately, a lot of companies have started using terms like loudest crew, etc to glamorise this bit of exploitation. Students are happy to be a part of this cool hip group and completely miss the point of an internship - getting ready for their field of interest.
Using a fancy term for unpaid labour doesn't change the fact that you are, in fact, being exploited.
Entertainment and media industry are plagued with this problem right now. The number of event management companies that have popped up recently can be construed as the rise of the Aggarwal sweets of our generation. Same is the case with content websites. Most of the youngsters are willing to work for peanuts and end up ruining the market for everyone else.
A popular theory on the internet has brilliantly summarised the plight of interns.
Q: What's the difference between a plant and an intern?
A: The plant has leaves.
The government policy about the same needs to be communicated to every student. The lack of guidelines and the awareness about this topic is a huge roadblock for the Indian youth. If we are to move towards development and a digital India, these topics need to be brought into the limelight.
We don't need hour long debates about an 'offensive' snapchat video or about a PIL filed against imaginary creatures for hurting our feelings. We need jobs and stipend. And we need it NOW!
This practise of exploitation can be put to an end only if everyone is willing to take a firm stance. We need to call out the companies who've exploited us and are probably still exploiting numerous students in the name of internships.