Indian varsities are famously understaffed but the vacancy that has opened up at IIT-Bombay is one that not many institutes will readily acknowledge.
The premier engineering institute is hoping to hire a trained snake catcher before all its day scholars dedicated to the task leave. Two of the students who used to double as serpent charmers every time one made an appearance on the campus are no longer there to save others from the fright. A third is on his way out.
The opening was advertised in the institute's in-house newspaper Insight. In the paper's recent issue, general secretary of hostel affairs Chandra Mouli Siva said, "There are many snakes within the campus.
They haven't caused any fatal incident but we do need a snake catcher, as two of the three students who used to catch snakes have already passed out and another would pass out this year. So we won't have anyone to catch the snakes. Hence, we asked the administration which approved the demand for one snake catcher."
Siva added, "The snake catcher would either be a staffer who would be sent for training or someone already trained who can be on the campus round the clock." The institute's website also iterates that the campus is looking for a 24x7 snake catcher.
Mostly covered in green, the IIT campus is a thriving abode for snakes of many varieties. Its proximity to the Sanjay Gandhi National Park only makes it more conducive for reptiles to make it their habitat.
Student Suman Rao, editor-in-chief of Insight, claims the slithery creatures are sighted on campus at least thrice a week, and they show up in assorted avatars. "Russell's viper, common krait and so many other types can be spotted on campus premises every other day," said Rao.
The students who had kept the campus free of the perceived menace from the reptiles were snake lovers. They did the job for the years they were studying at the college. But now, with their exit, the campus is suddenly vulnerable.