M Phil student Nimesh Parmar (27) is preparing for competitive exams to get a government job; Ashish Solanki (25), an Arts graduate with Gujarati as his principal subject, wants to be a sanitary inspector; 31-year-old Tarun Parmar simply wants to be a good father and get a government job; Krunal Rathod (24) has a Bachelors degree in information technology and runs a digital enterprise in partnership. What strings the four men together is a sweetmeat stall, ‘Jay Bhim Shikshit Yuva Berojgar Dwara Sanchalit’ (run by educated unemployed youths), on the busy Sneh-Plaza Road at Chandkheda area of Ahmedabad city.
Two years ago, Nimesh, Tarun and Ashish, all preparing for competitive examinations for various government jobs, had come together to start a business dealing with seasonal wares, especially catering to festive needs, to meet the expenses for purchasing study material and pay fees for coaching classes. This Diwali, the four forayed into sweetmeats and namkeen.
“We have been preparing for competitive examinations. But for the past few years, the examinations were riddled with controversies like paper leaks and irregularities. I was not shortlisted in the examinations for Binsachivalay clerk (non-secretariat clerk) and Lok Rakshak Dal (an arm of Gujarat police),” says Nimesh. Both the recruitment examinations had to be cancelled following complaints of paper leak.
“We realised that we cannot just sit depending on the government for jobs. So, for the last two years, we have started seasonal businesses to meet our expenses. My two younger sisters and brother are also students. Despite being the eldest son, I was not able to contribute anything to my family’s regular expenses. My father, who is a mason, continues to run the family,” Nimesh adds.
To pay for his expenses, the 27-year-old says, he had to earn first. “The coaching classes for competitive examinations charge anything between Rs 30,000 and Rs 35,000 for three months. Access to libraries, too, comes at a cost. So, four of us got together and started businesses in seasonal items since the last two years — selling kites during Makarsankranti or Uttarayan, mangoes during summer, firecrackers during Diwali,” he says.
A seasonal business, Nimesh says, allowed them to concentrate on their study on other days. “We spent around a week or two on our seasonal businesses and make a profit of around Rs 25,000-50,000. It leaves us with around Rs 5,000-10,000 each,” he says.
The four men are hopeful of earning Rs 4,000-5,000 from there sweetmeat stall this Diwali. Last year, they had sold firecrackers ahead of the festival. “But this year, owing to Covid-19, we chose to sell sweets and namkeen,” Nimesh says.
Krunal, an outlier in the group, had spent two years taking exams for government jobs. He eventually took up jobs in private firms for 2-3 years and saved enough to roll out a business in digital marketing in partnership with a friend. “I am committed to the ideology of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar. Youths of my community (the four youths are Dalits) are heavily dependent on government jobs. So, I have joined this initiative to spread a message among the community that youngsters should explore the option of business/self-employment instead of relying solely on the government for jobs,” says Krunal, the youngest in his family of six. His father had retired as a textile mill worker and currently sells vegetables.
Asked about the choice of name for their stall, Nimesh said, “People should know when they pass by that this is an enterprise by qualified jobless youths. They are not just any other businessmen, but those whom the government has failed to provide a job.”
Their main attraction for a government job is the “security and lesser exploitation”. “In the private sector, there is no job security. During the lockdown, so many people were laid off .Many people also died by suicide,” says Nimesh. The four men say they have taken multiple competitive examinations to get a government job. Except for Ashish, the other three registered with the Employment Exchange of the state government.
Jakasiya Sreedhar, a government employee from Gandhinagar and one of their customers, told The Indian Express, “I got a message in one of the WhatsApp groups about the initiative . So, I ordered seven packets of Kaju Katri from them. The quality is good. Since I am also from the same community, I felt it was my social responsibility to help such youths.” Ashish says he had joined the enterprise to meet his personal expenses and “to inspire other youths to explore business possibilities”. He is the youngest in his family that include his parents, a brother and two sisters.
Tarun, who is a B Ed and M Com, says, “So far, I have been unsuccessful in getting a government job. But now, I feel how long can I go on hoping to get one…. This business opportunity came in handy and allows us to make some money to meet our expenses and get some experience.” The four friends have tied up with another acquaintance in Kathwada who prepares the sweets for them, while an elder from their community in Gandinagar back them with capital.
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