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Unpaid & Unethical Internships

Updated: Jun 4, 2021

The author, Rajdeep Nayak, is a 4th year B.B.A LL.B (Hons.) student of I.C.F.A.I Law School (IFHE University), Hyderabad.

In the age of Capitalism, every head of a business entity wishes to maximise the output from the given finite resource that is available to them. This nature tends them to develop an immoral approach to the business prospectus so as to minimize the hole being created in their pocket. Such approach negates any principle that may aid collective growth of the society to generate as much profit as possible, even with the expense of losing one’s own ethics and morale.

Slavery was an evil omnipresent and seemed to be accepted everywhere, it took over 200 years to eradicate it from face of the Earth, at least its former state, the initiative being taken by Norway-Denmark in 1803 AD and Mauritania being the world's last country to abolish slavery, classifying it as criminal to support or practice slavery. With changing time the evil has taken a new form- unpaid internship. Unpaid Internship isn’t necessarily an evil in all the cases nevertheless when the entity under which an intern works, attempts to make the intern do its pending work with no scope of giving any academic benefit or practical field knowledge to the intern, then its just disguised slavery. The dynamic landscape of capitalism has encouraged people to play dirty even at the cost of tainting their soul. Internships play an important role on the professional front for any fresher in the world of employment. In order to garner a student’s skill sets, internships is a mandate to enter the world of professionalism.Competition in the job sector is rising exponentially and securing entry-level jobs has become an ice breaking challenge, as the students passing out from technical institutions lack the experience and skills required by industry. According to a recent survey done by the popular Times Job media house on internships, it was found that 72% of interns were exploited during internships.

In the ideal states like US, UK, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador paid interns are temporary employees and treated virtually the same as regular employees with respect to labor law whereas in India even the Labour Laws does not apply to interns as it mainly covers the unorganised primary sector let alone The Minimum Wages Act. India’s labour laws don’t even look at internships hence regulating them as of now is out of its scope. There is also no data on this because it is not even considered a problem just like there is no data on the martyred the healthcare workers or the migrant labourers who lost their lives during their exodus amidst the covid pandemic. On many occasions, interns end up doing the work that should be done by entry-level employees and associates and they are doing it for free, work that never really gives them any insight into the industry, neither does it benefit them with any kind of academic benefits. With the internship loading burden of work and liabilities and putting the newbies up with a deadline to meet rarely gives them the fruit of the hard-work, if one does the work that should have been done by the entity in the first place it should provide at least a portion of the monetary benefit given to the employees so as to motivate the interns for delivering a work with ensured quality. Fundamental duties and Fundamental rights go hand in hand, similarly the duties of the intern should imply that they must be guaranteed with certain rights.

Sadly, every industry including the glamorous jobs and the unwanted jobs- law, medical, media, engineering, etc every industry tend to salvage out as much work from a trainee of their work force as possible, the pandora box of horror was unleashed when the success stories and celebrities and so called influencers started speaking out about their horrible experience when they were interns in earlier days.Change comes slowly but for sure, as change is the only natural process that can never seize. This may not be a problem seen as imminent by the majority but that doesn't make it acceptable by any means. Be it Ozymandias the great or the cunning Colonials even the Mighty Roman fell into ruins, as one can never stop the natural process called change. May not today, may not tomorrow but for sure this disguised slavery form will be eradicated when the right minded people seize the power, and change the broken system.

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