Ballari: They spent years pouring over books and writing examinations to earn their degrees, but at the end of it, they are doing menial work as labourers. Jobs are so hard to come by in Hoovinahadagali taluk of the iron ore-rich district of Ballari that graduates, postgraduates and even rankholders are working as labourers under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act here.
Five postgraduates and eight graduates are among the 400 to 500 labourers de-silting a tank in Hire Mallanakere village in Hoovinahadagali taluk under MNREGA. The village of graduates- turned- labourers is part of the Hoovina Hadagali assembly segment represented by minister for labour and skill development, PT Parameshwar Naik.
Not only are these men working hard at jobs they are over-qualified for, but they are also paid less than they are supposed to be. While under MNREGA norms, every labourer who digs a 5 ft wide and 2 ft deep pit should get a fixed wage of Rs 249, they are paid only Rs 200 each a day only because they are not able to do as much work as usual in the summer heat with temperatures soaring to 40 degrees Celsius.
Among those sweating it out under the hot sun is Mr Ulavathi Garudappa , a first rankholder in MA Political Science from Sri Krishna Devaraya University, Ballari . Having graduated in 2013 , he works as a guest lecturer in a local college and supplements his income by working under MNREGA in the holidays.
“I didn’t get a government job despite my first rank. As there is no job guarantee in part-time jobs, I work under MNREGA in the holidays,” he explains.
Mr Suresh Alabur, a fourth rankholder in MA Political Science, worked as a guest lecturer in a local college till December last, when he was told that his services were no longer required. “After leaving college, I decided to work under MNREGA as I can’t leave my village in search of a job with an old mother at home,” he says.
Graduates/labourers, S Manjunath, K Ravi Chandra, Dodda Basava Raddi, Halagi Praveen Kumar, and Bannikallu Anjaneya who failed to clear competitive exams, have also turned to MNREGA in desperation as they have no other job to fall back on. “We are paid less than Rs 8000 a month if we teach in a college as guest lecturers. I often feel embarrassed working as a coolie, but, who will feed me if I sit at home telling everyone that I hold a PG degree?” asks Mr Yallappa Talawar sadly.