The post was called ‘dom’ in the British period and is still colloquially referred to as the same. Technically it is called the post of ‘laboratory attendant’. The qualification required for the post is just an eighth class pass, and the job is to help in the post-mortem and disposal of unidentified bodies.
To fill 6 vacancies for this post in a Kolkata hospital, more than two thousand graduates, more than 500 master degree holders and about a hundred engineers have submitted applications. It is a blatant example of the unemployment situation that has made the young generation desperate.
The only lure for the post is that it will fetch 15,000 Rs as a monthly salary. It is no wonder that for 6 vacancies more than eight thousand applications have been submitted. The hospital that sought the application is a government hospital (Nil Ratan Sarkar Medical College Hospital, popularly known as NRS), and job security is a major attraction for the applicants.
This post was traditionally reserved for the dom community whose traditional job was to help the families of the bereaved to burn their dead in the burning ghats. Nowadays the people of the community, which is quite a large one in Bengal, have taken up many other occupations. However, when the NRS authority advertised the job offer, it mentioned that the people of the community and those with some experience of working in the morgue will get preference. According to sources, many of the applicants are from that community.
This dismal picture shows that the employment situation in Bengal and some other states are bleak in this covid-era. Similar incidences of over-qualified people jumping in the fray for government jobs have been reported from UP, MP and Tamil Nadu in recent times.
Bengal is also suffering from a severe unemployment problem. Apart from COVID-19, it has not been able to attract major industries in the era of liberalisation that started in the 90s of last century.
A desperate state government is now trying to woo the Tatas too, whose Nano project at Singur was thwarted by the TMC thirteen years ago.
(The author Diptendra Raychaudhuri is a senior journalist based in Kolkata. He has a wide range of experience in covering West Bengal politics and has authored several books)