Having to pay a bribe for a job is a sad reality
The suicide of a talented student of Patuakhali Science and Technology University (PSTU) seems to have opened a can of worms.
The young talented man in question, Debashish Mondol, a first-clas- first graduate from the department of soil science, committed suicide on May 14, allegedly facing a demand of Tk15 lakh from the university authority in exchange for securing a teacher’s job for him at the department.
The authorities at the institution has denied asking for any money. But friends and relatives of the deceased man speak otherwise.
The father arranged the money
Debashish’s says that initially the demand had been for Tk10 lakh and he had kept the amount in a bank account to pass on to the right person once the promise of securing the job was fulfilled.
However, friends say the sky broke on the young job aspirant’s head when the demand was raised to 15 and, eventually, the post was given to someone else, a candidate with strong political affiliation.
Friends of Debashish have told several Bangla newspapers that there was immense pressure on the young man to get the money, which also resulted in his father selling their land.
Naturally, the first question that may come to a reader: Why did he want to pay the amount in the first place, as it was an endorsement of corruption?
The thing is, asking such idealistic questions, especially if one is from a wealthy background, or detached from reality, is very easy. The ground reality is harsh. Well, maybe that’s an understatement. The real picture, as I have seen from my interaction with countless young people seeking employment, is that, without a certain monetary/material incentive, a job is rarely secured.
“In most cases, it’s cash, and sometimes a push from an influential political figure can work miracles,” says Shariar Hasan Shuvo, a young job-seeker who graduated from Jagannath University.
Accepting the ‘incentive’ envelope as normal culture
Hypothetically speaking, if Debashish had been given the job would he have spoken in public of the money he had paid to secure the position?
The reason we are now talking of him is because, failing to get the post despite the academic merit plus the arrangement of the money, he took his life.
Countless jobs are ensured not only by academic brilliance alone but also by hard cash. Once the jobs are secure, no one ever talks about it, allowing the abominable culture to proliferate with impunity.
Just about a few weeks ago, I had a chance to overhear a conversation involving three middle-aged people who were discussing the prospect of their wards entering the police as a sub-inspector.
“If they can guarantee a post then I can manage Tk20 lakh within a few hours and give it to the right person,” commented the father, a man in his mid-50s.
And while he was talking, he did not seem to have flinched when he mentioned the need to pay extra cash.
When I asked why he needed to pay if his son had the merit he remarked nonchalantly: “Only merit won’t get what we want.”
I do not argue because the father had recently took part in an institutional employers election where he had to spend around Tk17 lakh to ensure (buy) votes and get elected.
Every day, for at least two weeks prior to election, he used to come with money strapped to his body under his loose shirt and by evening the cash would-be gone, handed out discreetly to would be voters as pre-voting incentive.
“The rule is not to be seen; if it’s done behind the curtain, nobody is bothered,” he tells me.
“Don’t ask, don’t tell” seems to be the mantra here.
Why did a bright young man kill himself?
Obviously, the allegation made by the family of Debashish that pressure was put with a raised demand for cash has been rubbished.
But the question remains: Why did a man who had done brilliantly in his results and had given a viva to his department for a post, suddenly take his own life?
As far as we know, neither his friends nor his family spoke of any other mental disturbances. Reportedly, his friends had told reporters that once Debashish had heard that he was sidelined for another candidate, allegedly with “political backing,” he became disconsolate.
Whatever the actual case, there has to be a neutral investigation to determine as to why this man decided to commit suicide.
Also, a probe is essential to find out if there had been demands made for cash to consolidate the post of the lecturer.
The problem with the current ethos of society is that we maintain a pretense of transparency, whereas everyone knows and understands the real rules of survival.
It appears that despite our hardest efforts to put up the face of piety and morality, the hideous truth often comes out.
Regrettably, while we look the other way, in empty rooms, dreams die by the rope.
Towheed Feroze is a journalist, teaching at the University of Dhaka.