It is 2pm, a quiet afternoon. The whirring fan begs to be repaired. A bag is placed in the corner, nigh to the wall. Abhishek is cooking a dish of lentils for lunch. His friend Sunesh helps him to cut onions and peel garlic in his room. They are in Jaipur, Rajasthan. These students don’t follow any time table—every day is a holiday or working day. The schedule for the morning, evening, and night looks the same for those who are waiting to occupy a government job.
Abhishek is preparing for “general competition” —a term connoting that the student in question is preparing for all job examinations. After completing matriculation, many youngsters in North India start preparing for government jobs. These exams are often mired in delays—cancellation of exams, question paper leaks, court cases—and can take 3-4 years to complete, right from issuing notification to joining the service. This is why these government job aspirants seemingly appear to be stuck in a Kafkaesque loop.