Government jobs, even the lowest ones, are highly sought after (file photo: AFP)
It is a sad commentary on the few opportunities available in Chhattisgarh when 75,000 people, including engineers and university graduates, apply for 30 vacancies as peons (office boys) in the state government. This large number shocked even officials, who were ill-prepared to conduct an examination test for so many. They were forced to cancel the examination scheduled this Sunday, August 30.
Directorate head Amitabh Panda said he had no option after receiving 70,000 applications online and 5,000 in person, including from engineers and management graduates.
“We were left astounded,” Panda said. “We had made arrangements for 2,000 to 3,000 aspirants,” he told AFP on Tuesday.
The 30 Grade-D government posts are in the Directorate of Economics and Statistics, and duties include fetching tea for a monthly salary of Rs 14,000 ($220).
According to Hindustan Times, the recruitment eligibility criteria was education up to Class V. However, “several engineers and post-graduates in arts and science also applied for the job,” Panda said.
He said a decision about holding the exam would be taken after a few months as much larger arrangements would have to be made.
India's vast bureaucracy, a legacy of British colonial rule, is seen as a secure place of employment compared with the private sector.
Government jobs, even the lowest ones, are highly sought after, with candidates reportedly paying thousands of rupees in bribes to try to clinch one.
Zubair Meenai, a sociologist at Jamia Millia Islamia University in New Delhi, said bureaucrats are also seen as having more power and social status.
"No matter if a person gets paid a million rupees in a private company, still a government employee gets more respect and social recognition," Meenai told AFP.
"The economic change has not permeated fully, people still see risk in private sector," he added.
India's unemployment rate was 3.6 percent in 2013, according to the World Bank. But under-employment remains a critical issue, particularly in less-developed states like Chhattisgarh.