ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Gendered Suffering and Informality in Indian Academia

Secure employment in higher education is increasingly difficult to find, especially for women.

With formal training in economics and a passion for academia and research, I have been analysing the Indian informal sector for a decade now. While it is, admittedly, a walking track for the poor to jog against starvation and poverty, there is no denying its exploitative nature, negatively targeting the ambitions and outcomes of an average Indian. And as such, mine happens to be the story of this average citizen!

Working hard throughout my academic career, I earned a doctorate in economics, learning and improving in an attempt to publish in a timely manner, maintaining the quality of my research work. One could say that the outcome of my hard work in academia has been inversely proportional—bleak and dim! It is difficult to land a tenured/substantive academic position (like assistant professor) in any Indian city, but especially in the non-metropolitan and smaller cities! With my basket full of academic achievements and my hopes high as the clouds, I started looking for academic positions in the city of my origin. Ironically, it turned out almost impossible to find one! With barely any substantive positions in sight, the contractual/ad hoc/need-based positions are in high demand, and therefore, very competitive. I too joined the race and landed in one such place—a university that is a formal institution making numerous informal academic engagements! Underpaid and insecure, the position does not offer much by way of benefits. No promised leave, no maternity cover. No paid leave at any cost. A compromise on self-worth and self-respect on one side, even the respect for basic biological and social phenomena is nowhere in sight.

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Updated On : 19th Jul, 2023
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