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Putting a Full Stop To Unpaid Internship

Beware of those who are always hungry, for they will feed you to the wolves just to get paid. Being a student is not as unchallenging as everyone thinks. Being paid lends a helping hand to the students to be financially independent and also brings lots of motivation to work efficiently.

In India it is very substantial to get a good paying Internships for a student. The Indian constitution recognizes the concept of Equal pay for Equal work. Right to work is given under Article 39(d) and Article 41 which comes under Directive principles of state policy. While making any law the Central or the state government needs to keep Directive principals of state policy in their mind[1]. The existing laws aims to defeat the gender biasness which exists in terms of payment of wages, but what about the internships? This is still an untouched area.

AICTE released an internship policy in the year 2018 which legislated that doing internships is mandatory. It is next to impossible for many students who belongs to middle-class family, to do an unpaid internship. The drawback of this is that students end up being unskilled and unexperienced too[2].Now let's have a brief look on the reap financial rewards of internships in a student's career.

Why there is a need of Internships

  1. Work Experience:
    Many of us are been told that, you learn the actual things after completion of your degree. The time spent in college is just a gist of the actual work which are been done by the professionals. Thus, internship plays a very vital role in the career of a student. A student becomes well aware about the work culture and the market requirement by the way on an internship. A student becomes independent and it is really easy for him/her to grab things and get acquainted with the job he/she has to perform on the first day of his/her job itself. More a student gets opportunity to do internship, more he/she gains experience. It is even better if they get paid internships. Paid internships motivate a student to perform his work even more efficiently.
     
  2. A proper platform to test your knowledge:
    Internships provides best opportunity to a student to test or showcase his/her knowledge. Having bookish knowledge is not going to help a student to work efficiently. It is very important to do practical. That is why it is said Practice makes a man perfect.
     
  3. Networking:
    Once you are on an internship you get to know at least 10-20 new people. Internships are the best platform for a student to make his or her network game strong. Strong network works like a magic if you are in search of a job or new internship opportunities. LinkedIn is a great platform for making your online networking game strong.[3]
     
  4. CV or resume:
    A good internship in a student's CV or resume has a very positive impact on the interviewer. The student is believed to be skilled and well aware about the market situation if he has a good internship in his CV or resume.
     
  5. PPO (Pre-Placement Offer):
    While on an internship a student has a chance to get a pre placement offer if the employer likes the candidate. A pre-placement offer is given to an intern when the company wants the intern to join them permanently as a full-time employee after graduation.

The Principal of Quantum Meruit

What is the meaning of term Quantum Meruit? This term can be well understood through Indian contract Act,1872. The essence is what a person has earned or how much a person has earned. In simple words it is the actual value of the service which is been given.

This law is applicable and makes it compulsory to pay for labour and material used even if there is no contract. The law doesn't include internship in it. By under standing Quantum Meruit we all are well aware that we have also have laws which has essence of natural justice in it.

It not only focuses on law rather it focuses on welfare and meeting end of justice.
Internships should be included within the meaning of this law. On an internship, a student does all the work which a permanent employee does, the is it fair enough not to pay him? No, it isn't. An intern should be paid for the service what he provides. Unpaid internships are against the principal of Quantum Meruit.[4]

Unconstitutionality of unpaid internship

Article 14 of the Indian constitution states that the State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.[5]There are laws made for payment of wages for the employee. For example, there is Minimum Wages Act,1948 under which the proper government fixes minimum wages for all the employments. According to Article 21 of the Indian constitution, every employee has right to get fair and just emoluments and hence if a reasonable salary Is not paid it would result to a clear violation of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.

Recently Delhi high court had fetched up municipal corporation for non-payment of salaries of their staffs. The court said, right to receive payment is a fundamental right enshrined under the Constitution of India. The court further added, it is absolutely necessary that payment of salaries and pensions is made to the employees and retired employees of the corporations, which also include doctors, paramedical staff and health workers, who are rendering their services in the time of pandemic and serving the citizens of Delhi[6].

Internships should be included in meaning of these articles, as we have provision for equality before the law. As Erasmus said The main hope of a nation lies in the proper education of its youth, it is very important for government to focus on the youth as they are the nation builders. Government should come up with policies which bans unpaid internship as it demotivates the student and is an unfair practice on hole.

One of the fundamental rights is the right to a just remuneration that ensures an existence worth of human dignity. The preamble to the constitution of the international labour organization identifies the provision of an adequate living wage as one of the conditions for universal and lasting peace based on social justice said ILO senior economist Patrick Belser[7].

While on other hand the UN clearly states on its official website that interns under the United Nations Headquarters Secretariat are not paid and the interns are needed to bear all the cost of travel, accommodation, including living expense etc[8].Once people start relating things, what do they see? They see the reality, the hypocrisy that's going on. In one hand UN talks about the human rights, welfare, justice while on other hand it is not even providing a paid internship to a student. Is it fair enough? No, it isn't.

Conclusion
While having a look on juxtaposition of paid and unpaid internship it is crystal clear, that unpaid internships not only demotivate the student but also puts a question on self-worth. The efforts that a student puts in his or her internship should be perceived as gem rather than seeing it as their compulsion. Not paying up someone for their service is a clear exploitation of an individual.

I hope we realise the importance of the paid internship soon and this unfair practice comes to an end. Government should put a strict ban on the practice of unpaid internship. As not every student can afford to live in other state and complete their internship without being paid because most of the students in our country come from a middle-class background, which makes them financially uncapable of interning without being paid.  Internship plays a very important role in career of a student, so government should pay a kind and good attention in this field.

End-Notes:
  1.  https://paycheck.in/career-tips/workandpay/equal-pay-for-equal-work
  2. https://science.thewire.in/education/india-internship-policy-student-workforce-employability-exploitation-social-damage/
  3. https://www.goodwall.io/blog/benefits-of-internships/
  4. https://blog.ipleaders.in/quantum-meruit/
  5. Art.14, Constitution of India
  6. https://www.nationalheraldindia.com/national/right-to-salary-a-fundamental-right-delhi-hc
  7. https://www.ilo.org/global/about-the-ilo/mission-and-objectives/features/WCMS_231993/lang--en/index.htm
  8. https://www.un.org/Depts/OHRM/salaries_allowances/salary.htm

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