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Suicide after job test

A final-year engineering student at Jadavpur University was found hanging from a ceiling fan in his hostel room on Tuesday afternoon after taking an online recruitment test by Microsoft, his second big placement opportunity after missing one with Amazon.

Manish Ranjan, who hailed from Siwan district of Bihar, didn’t live to know that he had made it to the shortlist of 100 candidates from which Microsoft would pick six product development engineers with an annual pay packet of around Rs 17 lakh.

By the time the results came in, the young man studying to be an information technology engineer had apparently cracked under the pressure of living up to his own expectations. Police said he didn’t leave a suicide note.

Friends said 22-year-old Manish, who was in the top bracket of his class with an average of 7.5 on a scale of 10 in all semesters, had been upset since being eliminated in the final round of screening by e-commerce giant Amazon. One of his close friends was recruited by Amazon last week, adding to his disappointment.

“I could gather from his friends that Manish was upset at not being able to make it to Amazon. His friends also say that he was not feeling very comfortable after appearing for the Microsoft online test. There is no way we can say for sure that this led to his death but it could be a reason,” Samiran Chatterjee, head of JU’s information technology department, told Metro.

“We came to know that Manish had got a call for the second round next week after news about the tragic incident reached us,” Chatterjee said.

The only information available with the university about Manish’s family background till late on Tuesday was that he was the son of a businessman based in Siwan.

Manish’s Facebook profile reveals a fondness for basketball, cricket, music and TV shows, his list of likes including the New York Knicks, Yo Yo Honey Singh and Game of Thrones. Friends described the lanky engineering student as a lively young man, though he hadn’t been his usual self of late. “He was upset but we never imagined Manish could do this,” a classmate said.

Manish had joined Jadavpur University after passing his Class XII examination from St. Xavier’s School, Bokaro. A student usually has to rank in the top 1,000 in the Bengal JEE to qualify for a seat in the information technology department at JU. Over 100,000 students take the joint entrance exam every year.

Sources said some of Manish’s batchmates were still taking Microsoft’s online recruitment test when news came in of him being found hanging by a bed sheet from a ceiling fan in the north block of Jadavpur University’s Salt Lake campus around 1.30pm.

He had been among the students who attended the first round of online screening in the morning.

Microsoft, which had skipped JU last year, returned to the campus in 2014 with a plan to hire at least six graduates.

“The company is supposed to hold one-on-one interviews with the candidates who cracked the first round today,” said an official handling placements.

Manish had apparently confided to friends after taking the Microsoft test that he doubted his chances of making it past the first round of screening.

Professors said they were used to students crumbling under peer pressure, especially those whose close friends succeed where they fail.

The film Three Idiots featuring Aamir Khan had a famous line that several teachers echoed in the context of the tragedy on the JU campus: “Dost fail ho jaye toh dukh hota hai, lekin dost first aa jaye toh zyada dukh hota hai (It makes you feel sad when your friend fails, but it makes you sadder when your friend comes first).”

A JU professor said: “In Manish’s case, three to four of his peers, including a close friend, got jobs with Amazon. This might have made him feel that he was out of the loop.”

University sources said there were several others who had better scores than Manish in class but had still failed to make it to the top recruiters’ list. What may have added to the pressure is that not many top recruiters come to JU. Amazon and Microsoft are big names but the rest of the IT recruiters are primarily service providers offering much smaller pay packets and lower career growth.

“Peer pressure can lead to low self-esteem or the inability to believe that one might be capable of doing better than others,” said psychiatrist Jai Ranjan Ram. “But in any case of suicide, there are multiple reasons and the proximal event might not be the only cause, though it might be the trigger for the final act like the last straw that broke the camel’s back.”

The reaction usually depends on the vulnerability of the individual to stress. “The individual might be predisposed to depression but there could be other stress factors like family dynamics or relationship issues, and multiple issues might culminate in an act of desperation,” said psychiatrist Abir Mukherjee.

student dies in ju hostel

Name: Manish Ranjan

Age: 22

From: Siwan district of Bihar

Student of: Information technology at JU; ranked in the top bracket of his class with an average of 7.5 on a scale of 10 across semesters

Placement record: Was eliminated in the last round of screening by e-commerce company Amazon; made it to the shortlist of 100 in the Microsoft online test on Tuesday