Life is not “Life” in India without “Sarkari Naukri”, or is it?

An image of Mahatma Gandhi’s face on Indian currency

“Mother, I want to do something out of the box in future,” proposes a dreamer hailing from a lower-middle-class family in India. Unless the question gets ignored as a fallacy, the individual on the other part of a budding conversation would end up replying,

“Beta, wo saab choro, padhai mein dhyaan do, sarkari naukri karo. Sarkari naukri sei sundar ladki milegi, khus rahoge shaadi ke baad!”

If the statement is translated into English. It sounds like this:

“Look, son, leave your aspirations behind, focus on your study, and get a government job as soon as possible. You would get a good-looking wife, and then, you would be happy after marriage!”

It is as if “Sarkari Naukri” is the Doc Ock tentacles using which one can just drag a so-called “good-looking” girl. In the voice of the dreamer’s mum, it feels as if a scientifically-proven outline has been set, which goes like — if you get a government job, you are destined to get a wife, who would be regarded as good-looking and worthy by society, especially the neighbours and the relatives. And then, your venture would be marked as a success.

“What would the bad-looking wives do?” the dreamer dwells on the question in his mind but feels hesitant to put his query forward in public, imagining that the answer would be “bad-looking ones are for those who fail to attain a government job, and it is as simple as that.”

The dreamer is successfully led to realise that the government job, especially in India, is the key to all happiness, and he should start focusing on pursuing that. Leaving his ambitions behind, he starts the process of becoming the person he would have never aspired to be.

I am 21 years old, or it can be said that I have been observing the world, my surroundings, my neighbours, my relatives, my friends and such for the last 21 years. I have learned a lot of things and hope to do more in future. But one thing that amazes me, amid many things, is the kind of obsession shown in the credibility of a “Sarkari Naukri” (a government job) by a distinctively enormous section of individuals based in India.

The journey is going to be lengthy and might get tedious at some point. So, I would request you to fasten your seatbelt.

How have we come to this?

To those unacquainted with the history of India, the nation was under the control of Britishers for around 200 years. People from Great Britain, Portugal, Holland and various other territories, tribes, creeds and colours established their colonies in India, subsequently injecting their cultures, languages, and traditions into the roots of the land, famous for its spices and many other valuable commodities.

After years of negligence and maltreatment, India was eventually left in the hands of Indians as the heroic freedom fighters celebrated India’s independence on August 15, 1947. Although India was now a free nation, the calamity, followed by the two World Wars and various trivial conflicts here and there, had already taken a toll on the nation and its economy.

On the launch of his book, “An Era of Darkness: The British Empire in India”, Shashi Tharoor, a prominent political leader and an author, stated,

“A country that was the world leader in at least three industries- textiles, steel and shipbuilding. A country that had everything… And after 200 years of exploitation, expropriation and clean outright looting, this country was reduced to one of the poorest countries in the world by the time the British left in 1947.”

Britishers left India in poor condition — this sentence is an important statement for our future argument. Right now, India is a developing country, as it has been since obtaining independence.

Now, as a citizen of a developing country, what is the only thing that a person from a lower or middle-class family could crave in his life? The answer is financial stability and freedom.

You might want loads of books, a top-notch smartphone, a bike, a laptop, a console, a car, a house or a rocket. As long as you have financial stability and freedom, you could buy any of the items mentioned above and anything in the world (now don’t come to me saying that you can’t buy “love”. Well, I am not an expert on that matter. So, I pass).

Do you know the most reliable way of acquiring financial stability in India? Ask your father, mother, aunt, uncle, friends, they would say, “Get a government job.”

Of course, government jobs provide long-term financial stability, and there is no one denying that. If you acquire a government job today, you would get a steady income every month and even get paid in pension after retirement. Is not it amazing? Does not it take the financial onus off our shoulders? Yes, of course, it does. And that’s why the people, particularly the parents, from the lower-to-middle-class category who has witnessed the struggle, the poverty of a developing country with their eyes, urge their younger generation to pursue government jobs.

At the end of the day, everyone — barring a typical section of lowlifes — wants his/her son, daughter, grandson, granddaughter, companion, brother, sister to be happy and enjoy a prosperous future.

One thing that I would like to clear is that I am not against any government or their jobs. Doing jobs under the facilities provided by the government is not a crime — you get a government job there because you possess guts, proper knowledge, education, and requirements; so give yourself a pat on the back. But is that true that there is no “Life” without government jobs in India? Let’s see.

So, there is no “Life” without government jobs in India, yes?

Different people have different ways of looking at “Life” with different goals and desires. Someone wants to live a life of a sage and ends it happily, while others want to reflect glitz at every step. Some are happy with their Nokia 3310, while others are upgrading their iPhones. In all, it is all about perception and comprehension — cravings and goals — applications and achievements.

Following the same flow of our last segment, we would regard financial security or stability as the true meaning of “Life” here. If you have the financial freedom of a government job, you are happy with your life. If you are not a government employee, you are unhappy, okay? Some might nod and some might not. Those, who don’t nod, have possibly learnt to deal with the likelihood of a pension-less life after retirement. But how is that possible? How can one survive after retirement? Without a pension, your life would be hellish? Some brainiacs might say, “Oh! so you have thought of using your savings after retirement. Is that so?”

While savings are actually a great way to deal with life after retirement, something that those intellectuals completely ignored is inflation, a very strong and significant word in today’s world. So, what is Inflation?

The definition of Inflation (as taken from Investopedia): Inflation is the rate at which the value of a currency is falling and, consequently, the general level of prices for goods and services is rising.

In simpler words, the value of each product is increasing every year at a significant rate. Now, for instance, if you buy an item from the market at a price of Rs.100 today, and then inflation hits the market and gets the values of the items upped by 5%. In an inflation-impacted market, you would end up paying Rs.105 for the same item that you had purchased for Rs.100 the previous day.

Now, let’s assume that you have Rs.1000 in your savings account and the bank is giving you a return of around 2% per year and the inflation is 5% per year, is it not true that the value of your savings would get lessened every year bit by bit? You would get an annual return of Rs.1020 from your bank’s savings account, but the item that was available at Rs. 1000 last year would now warrant Rs.1050 as the inflation of 5% would increase the item’s price this time.

In that case, it would not help if you put your savings in the bank account and thinks of a better future after your retirement because the increment in prices of commodities would make your savings insignificant and worthless. So, what is the solution? The word is Investment.

Investing is not gambling if it fulfils long-term purposes

As we have already seen that keeping your capital in a savings account would lead to a significant loss of its monetary value, making regular investments could eventually help you live a pleasant life after your retirement.

In the end, you want and need to grow your money. It is indeed correct that savings accounts also grow your money, but the rate of return is so low that it doesn’t allow you to beat inflation, which is why the value of your money in a savings bank account loses its monetary value. Investing not only helps you grow your money but also leads you to beat the ominous inflation rate.

There are certain types of investment strategies well-known in India. One of them is FD, the abbreviation of Fixed Deposit. The return from FD might be adequate for someone who doesn’t aspire to live a kingly life after retirement or doesn't wish to share the financial freedom of a king. In FD, your money grows at a gradual pace and subsequently produce a lower return than some other notable investment strategies. But, it, on the other hand, is the safest way available to grow your capital.

Investing in other categories such as Mutual Funds, Stocks/Equity, Bitcoins and Gold are considered moderately risker than investing in a Fixed Deposit. And that’s why the rate of return in the aforementioned methods transcends that of FD. But there is a risk of losing money as well, and that makes people think twice before kicking off their investment journey.

The general consensus around the investment ecosystem suggests that people want to get richer as early as possible, and that’s why they end up losing a lot of money in a split of seconds. Then, they start blaming investing. If truth be told, it is not investing but trading or gambling that cost them their money.

I am sure that you are not here to take finance-related advice from someone who is just past his teenage days. I also do not behold any intention to give you financial advice as I don’t feel old enough to influence anyone. But even at this age, I know that long-term investments always create rerun in positive.

If you are 20 and start your investment journey tomorrow, you should at least continue to invest in something profitable for the next 30–35 years to get a return that would allow you to live a satisfactory life after retirement. As the legends say, patience is the key here. Other than that, you could read books and watch videos to garner more knowledge about long-term investments (not trading). You could learn more about compound interest and different areas of investments from sources distributed for free across the internet.

I would just share with you a quote from Paul Samuelson, a reputed economist. It reads:

“Investing should be more like watching paint dry or watching grass grow. If you want excitement, take $800 and go to Las Vegas.”

What are we supposed to learn then?

Through the last few paragraphs, we have discussed the obsession with government jobs among the majority in India, the actual reason causing that much obsession, a few notes about investments, and how it could impact your future in the longer run.

On a concluding note, I would like to share some of my understanding regarding Investment.

Look, not everyone in this world is built for government jobs. As such, not everyone earns a pension after retirement. Even if you fail to obtain a government job or a profession through which you could secure a stable earning even after your retirement, don’t lose hope, don’t feel embarrassed, don’t shy away from your so-called failures as the systematic investment is a panacea for you, my friend.

It would certainly ensure your better future. You just need to show some belief in yourself, and that’s all. Phew! Now let’s swing the ball and get back to where we started this all. Life is not “Life” without “Sarkari Naukri”, or is it? I hope you have got your answer.

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Jyotirmoy Halder

Jyotirmoy Halder

Hey, this is Jyotirmoy Halder, hoping to distract your thoughts and test your patience every Sunday here on “The Sunday Hazard”.