View Point

Why you shouldn’t join Journalism too early

Please don’t join as a professional journalist immediately after college. Please pause to do a professional diploma or a Masters. Please allow me to tell you why.

I have a BA with Honours in English Literature from St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata.

I joined as a full-time journalist at The Telegraph when I was in my third year of college.

Journalism was a booming industry even in 1999–2000 but I chose newspapers, as they were considered at the top of the news media food-chain.

I had a choice of going to Presidency University, Kolkata for my Masters but I decided against it since I always wanted to be a journalist and I wanted to seize the opportunity.

I told myself that this is what I should be doing next. Basically, my thoughts back then and your thoughts now, are exactly the same.

That I secured a position as a trainee reporter with one of the top newspapers in the country, further boosted my confidence and fanned my ego.

So, without any further ado, I dived headlong into a career of a journalism in the year 2000.I completed my traineeship in The Telegraph along with my graduation and was counted as one of the youngest (professional) journalists in the country at that time. However, the celebration was short-lived.

My career wasn’t exactly a fairy tale. Looking back, I feel it was a wrong decision.

Here are the negatives of becoming a journalist immediately after your graduation.

These 10 things happened to me next…

  1. I got a job ahead of most of my classmates who went on to do their Masters or professional PG courses. As a result, I always had money on me while they (my classmates) were still students and never seemed to have enough money in their pockets. They envied me and I enjoyed it.
  2. I couldn’t score well in my third year finals and lost my first class because I had ignored my studies in the final year (due to work pressure). I scored 58.8% in my final year (English Honours papers).
  3. I realised many years later on that a Masters is absolutely necessary at a senior level and I completed my MBA with great difficulty along with my job.
  4. By the time, my classmates started getting jobs, I was already an established journalist with a very decent salary. After joining Telegraph and staying there for one year, I had moved on to The Times of India (newspaper) as a senior journalist. Most of my friends were probationers and just weeks into their first jobs. I was still on top of the world.
  5. However, things started moving southwards soon. My classmates started earning double than me in less than three years (after the initial one year into their first jobs) because they were professionally trained in their respective fields, better equipped, had internship experiences while I was STILL learning on the job.
  6. I didn’t have any formal training in journalism, hence I made several ghastly mistakes early on in my career. I could have destroyed my own career, but thankfully I was clever enough to bounce back every time.
  7. There was nobody to help me — no mentors, no professors or no senior journalist to hold my hand. Journalism is actually a jungle where everybody eats up everybody to move forward. It’s a remorseless world.
  8. I became a senior journalist at the age of 23 but at every step I felt the need of a professional course which could have made my journey less painful. If I had done a professional PG course then I would have not faced so many obstacles. As a senior journalist (senior reporter) at 23 years, I couldn’t possibly leave everything to do a professional Journalism course.
  9. Journalism is a demanding profession. I missed my college life everyday but I was sucked into cold world of journalism so much that I didn’t even have time to even meet my friends on weekends. I started working like a robot after a few years.
  10. I started very early and hence I burnt out early too. It was inevitable, I guess. I was out of a regular day-to-day journalism job at around 35 years of age. It was an early retirement of sorts as I had burnt myself out.

I ended my full-time career as the Chief of Bureau at The Times of India (newspaper)in 2014 in Mumbai (which you might define as a successful career).

But I would never tell others to follow my path.

Please complete your Masters Degree in Journalism or do a PG Diploma in Journalism before you join the industry.

More importantly, enjoy your college and university life as a student. You are never going to get it back.

There’s no glory in struggling the way I did early on in in my career.

A professional degree/diploma in journalism enhances your longevity in the industry and arms you against the odds that the profession will throw at you early on in your career.

All the very best in your journalism career.


Important attribution: The same answer with some modifications also features on my Quora page HERE. The writer of both the blogs are the same person.

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Featured, View Point

The reality of the education system

I earn my living as a senior education administrator and I have been doing this for the past five years. I want to declare here that the education sector of this country is at a very critical stage due to Reservation.

Unfortunately, I am a Bengali Brahmin by birth and so, I belong to the general category students in this country. But I am not prejudiced against any caste or religion, rather I will try to present my arguments based on facts.

None of you have actually realised what has happened to the education system of this country while you were not looking.

Here is what has happened.

Caste-Reservation

The general education policy of India is usually prescribed by the government (both at the Centre and at the states) for colleges and institutions that are funded by them, partially or wholly.

Most private colleges or educational institutes don’t have reservation since they don’t receive money from the government as aid.

Since education is a Concurrent Subject under the Indian constitution, both the Centre and the State government may have their own legislations and jurisdictions over it.

This is where the problem begun and look where it has reached now.

Let’s look at how the different governments have dealt with Reservation in Educational institutes that includes technical institutes like the IIT and specialised professional institutes like Medical Colleges.

Many years back, the norm was 22.5 per cent reservation in educational institutes for ST, SC, OBC and other backward classes as per the Central government policy.

That system came under heavy artillery fire because the general category people argued that the reservation percentage was too high and that the general category students were being discriminated against.

The Central government initially agreed and started looking for a solution.

The governments (The Congress government at the Centre and others at the states) formed Committees, Advisory Bodies, Peer Groups to look into the criticism and finally, came back with a marvellous solution.

The solution was an increase in the reservation to 49.5%!

This meant close to half of the seats of central government funded educational institutes were reserved for students who might otherwise not qualify for admissions in the first place.

You might ask me, why not 50% reservation?

It is because there is a Supreme Court ruling that half of the seats in a college or a professional institute cannot be reserved.

It has to be less than that.

Nobody imagined at that time that the Congress government at the Centre would raise the cap which is just half a per cent point short from the prescribed upper limit set by the Supreme Court of India.

Some political parties in the states which play vote-bank politics (this means they expressly ask for votes on basis of religion, caste and creed) were obviously not happy with this 50% limitation imposed on them by the Supreme Court.

So, what did they do?

A few state governments again came back with another brilliant solution!

Some of them blatantly disregarded the Supreme Court order to impose more than 50 per cent reservation in schools, colleges and technical institutes in their respective states.

Currently , there are five states in India which has more than 50 per cent reservation. The states are:

  • Tamil Nadu: Reservation is up to 69 per cent (SC-18 per cent, ST-one per cent, OBC-50 per cent)
  • Telengana: The state currently has 62 percent reservation.
  • Maharashtra: On 25 June 2014, the erstwhile Congress-NCP government had approved 16 per cent reservation for Marathas and 5 per cent for Muslims in government jobs and educational institutions, over and above the 49%. But the Bombay High Court put it on hold, saying the reservation ceiling cannot exceed 50 per cent, except in extraordinary situations and for extraordinary reasons. In the case of public employment, 52 per cent reservation is in place for backward classes under a 2001 State Reservation Act.
  • Haryana: The Haryana Backward Classes (reservation in services and admission in educational institutions) Act, 2016, passed on 26 May 2016, gave 10 per cent reservation to Jats and five other communities, including Jat Sikhs, Muslim Jats, Bishnois, Rors, and Tyagis, under the special backward class category. It has given another 10 per cent reservation to economically backward persons from the general category, which took the total reservation to 67 per cent, exceeding the SC-imposed cap.
  • Rajasthan: The Rajasthan Backward Classes (Reservation of Seats in Educational Institutions in the State and of Appointment and Posts in Services under the State) Bill, 2017, proposes a five per cent increase in the OBC quota. The bill raises reservation for Gujjars and four other backward communities in Rajasthan from 21 per cent to 26 per cent. With this new 5 per cent category, reservation in the state now stands at 54 per cent – above the 50 per cent legal cap. (Source)

How does this help the political parties?

If you go and attend their rallies, you will see that the leaders organise political meetings at areas where the reserved category people are dominant and ask for votes because they have provided reservations for them in schools, colleges and government jobs.

The claim of these political leaders are very simple: “I have made it easier for you to get admission in top schools, colleges and get a government job, so… vote for me”.

The worst part is, they are getting votes and winning elections on the basis of those claims. So more and more politicians are taking that route to secure a vote bank for themselves.

This has given rise to a different kind of culture: India has seen the rapid rise of class struggles from categories or castes that were not included in the list of ST, SC and OBC. Some of them are even resorting to violence to get what they want.

The castes that are still not included in the reservation list are demanding more reservation and they are organising rallies, calling for strikes and even resorting to violence when the government is not listening to them.

Currently, there are five major castes in India who are demanding reservations for them. Some of protests have even resulted in death.

Some of the political parties have even made this a part of their election manifestos.

The political party which has promised the maximum number of reservations and made it into a political manifesto ahead of election is Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah of the Congress party, who is seeking a second term.

He has promised that the reservation in his state would be increased to 70% and this declaration is a part of his election campaign.

Reservation-In-India-Good-or-Bad

The Supreme Court is yet to give its verdict on the blatant violation of the guidelines that have been formulated by the…. Supreme Court itself.

So, you see India has already reached a stage where most of the appointments in government jobs and seats at government funded institutes are going to be there for the reserved candidates who, otherwise, wouldn’t qualify to study in these premiere institutes or get a government job on merit.

We are rapidly reaching a stage where only a handful of seats will be left open for general category of students or may be… in the near future, we may arrive at a point in time where some educational institutes or jobs will be closed to the general category forever.

As a result of this discriminatory reservation, the good students from the general category (millions of them) are now taking up jobs in private companies and studying in private education institutes which are not funded by the government.

A section of them are also migrating to other countries.

This “facility” of unreserved seats for the general category students in the private sector have not gone unnoticed to the political parties who are desperate to get votes.

So, some of them have now started demanding that seats should be reserved even in private companies and private education Institutes in India.

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar has already started lobbying for reservation[9] in the private sector and has even started tweaking the laws of Bihar so that companies are forced to hire employees from the reserved categories.

THIS IS THE REALITY OF CASTE, CREED AND RELIGION BASED RESERVATION IN INDIA. SOON THERE MIGHT BE EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTES IN INDIA AND DEPARTMENTS OF GOVERNMENT WHO WILL COMPLETELY SHUT ITS DOORS TOWARDS GENERAL HINDU CANDIDATES.

This will remain a reality unless a drastic decision is made to reverse it.

The Supreme Court of India is looking into the abuse[10] of the system and might decide to reverse it all.

We should keep our fingers crossed.

But a drastic reform to end reservations seems unlikely in a country like India where votes are sought and elections are won on the basis of caste.

Footnotes

[1] Reservation in India – Wikipedia

[2] Reservation in India – Wikipedia

[3] Concurrent List – Wikipedia

[4] Will Rajasthan follow 4 states that have exceeded 50 per cent reservation cap

[5] Quota should not exceed 50 %, says Supreme Court

[6] Will Rajasthan follow 4 states that have exceeded 50 per cent reservation cap

[7] Five Major Communities Leading Protests And Demanding Caste-Based Reservations Across India

[8] Siddaramaiah’s poll promise: 70 per cent reservation for SC, OBC for government, education sectors

[9] Nitish Kumar Wants 50% Reservation In Private Sector, Tweaks Bihar Rules

[10] Supreme Court to Allow Constitution Bench to Revisit 11-year-old Verdict on SC/ST Quota

This content was first shared on QUORA.

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