Aug. 9: A suspected suicide not too far from Calcutta has brought back to the fore the despondency of Bengal's educated youngsters who have little option but to work as floor cleaners and the crisis of confidence plaguing teacher recruitment that remains an oasis in a jobless desert.
Atanu Mistri, a 30-year-old postgraduate in English with a BEd degree, allegedly committed suicide at his Sonarpur home yesterday night shortly after returning from an interview during which he was apparently offered a job as a floor cleaner.
An additional possible contributing factor emerged during the day as it was alleged that the young man had been asked to pay a bribe to land a job as a teacher. The allegation could not be corroborated by this newspaper.
Atanu was found hanging from the ceiling of his room at Natunpally, under Sonarpur police station, around 16km from the heart of the city.
Atanu's father Chandrakanta told police that his son, who had scored 67 per cent in Madhyamik, had cracked the written tests for recruiting primary and upper primary school teachers but could not qualify in the interviews.
"He told me that Rs 7 lakh had to be paid as bribe to be recruited as a primary school teacher and Rs 11 lakh to be recruited as an upper primary teacher. I assured him that I would arrange the money," a police source quoted Chandrakanta as telling investigators.
Unemployment of the educated has been a perennial problem in Bengal, where lack of industrialisation has compounded the crisis and teacher recruitment has emerged as one of the handful of options.
But the teacher recruitment process has been mired in controversy. This year, as many as 72,000 teachers were supposed to have been recruited by March 15, but hiring for the upper primary school segment is yet to be complete.
By February, 42,400 of the 43,000 primary teacher vacancies had been filled. But several candidates had alleged "gross violation" of recruitment norms during the selection.
Initially, only those who had cleared the test were allowed to access their results online. Unsuccessful candidates had then questioned why they were being denied access to their results. It was only after the government had selected 14,000 primary teachers that it posted the full result on the website of the state primary board.
The Opposition had alleged a bribery scandal and sought a probe.
No suicide note was found in Atanu's room. His parents told the police that he was inconsolable after being offered a job of cleaning floors. "In a statement, Atanu's mother Usha Mistri told us that her son was repeatedly asking what was the point of studying English honours," said an officer.
Atanu was the elder of the Mistris' two sons. Usha is an Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) worker and her husband Chandrakanta assists lawyers at Baruipur court and offers private tuition.
Atanu had left home on Tuesday morning saying he had a job interview in a private firm. "He returned around 4pm and was upset. When I asked him, he said his mark sheets and other certificates had no value in the job market," the police quoted Usha as saying.