The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bleak questions in suicide pact

A city without jobs for some of its more successful students — and with a stern view of a woman marrying a younger man — can script several tragic tales with protagonists like Kaushik and Vaishali.

On Friday, as the Chatterjees of Shyambazar Street mourned their son’s death and his wife continued to be on medication to save the life she had wanted to take, a questioning look at the couple’s suicide pact threw up some dangerous answers.

“The lack of openings in the engineering sector, for those who want to stay back in the state, has been a troublesome fact for quite some time,” said a member of the engineering faculty of Jadavpur University (JU).

“The state’s experimentation with the English-language policy in schools has added to the lack of opportunity, with many technically-competent graduates overlooked for their poor command over English,” he added.

AM (initials used on request) is one such jobless engineer. Having passed out of a private engineering college with a degree in instrumentation two years ago, he is still to find a job. His brother, seeing AM’s predicament, has decided to study medicine.

More than one in four engineering students from JU did not win placements after interviews on campus last year, said university officials. “The situation was viewed very seriously, leading to the appointment of a two-member committee to assess the reasons,” he added.

The committee’s brief also included liaising with private firms to bring them back to the university, he added.

Committee chairman Rupen Chakraborty, despite stating that the situation was improving, admitted that things were bleak till a year back.

SD passed out of an engineering college a couple of years ago. He worked for a credit card-pushing agency for the first year after graduation. This year, he has got a better deal — a monthly salary of Rs 4,000 at a finance analysts’ institute.

The other aspect thrown up by the suicide pact of Kaushik and Vaishali is the social consequence of a man marrying an older woman. “This is one of the biggest barriers that the average Indian mindset is yet to overcome,” said former Calcutta University sociology head and now Vidyasagar University vice-chancellor Swapan Pramanik.

“Complications almost always crop up, caused mainly by the family, although seldom with consequences as disastrous as Kaushik’s and Vaishali’s,” he added.

Consultant psychologist Mahuya Ghosh agreed: “More often than not, consequences of such marriages are seen to be disastrous for the couple.”

Kaushik and Vaishali would know — one is dead, and the other’s life is hanging by a thin medical thread.

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