A million people have applied for 700 jobs in Telangana. Among them hundreds hold Ph.D and M.Phil degrees and lakhs are either postgraduates or graduate engineers, for the posts that require one to just pass the Class 12 board exams.
"This is unprecedented,'' admits Ghanta Chakrapani, chairperson of the Telangana State Public Service Commission, that was created in December 2014. "I don't think in the combined state of Andhra Pradesh or anywhere in south India, we have had such a rush of qualified youngsters for a junior level position,'' Mr Chakrapani told NDTV.
Around 80 per cent of the 10.58 lakh people who applied for the post of Village Revenue Officer (VRO) in Telangana sat for the exam. The last time applications were called for VRO posts was in 2011, when there were some 6 lakh applicants in the combined state.
"What to do. I am an electrical engineer. These days we get jobs only in a BPO and there too the pay is only up to Rs 15,000. Whereas in a government job, there is security and the pay scale is almost double of what I will get in the private sector," says Prashant, who sat for the exam on Sunday.
"Even though we are more qualified than the requirement of intermediate, I am still not hopeful of getting the job because the competition is really tough. There were Ph.Ds, post graduates, and lawyers, and for every post over 1100 people are competing,'' says his friend Durga Prasad, a friend of Prashant, who is a mechanical engineer.
Both the youngsters passed out this year. Unable to find a job that matches their aspiration and qualification, both chose to work as food delivery boys with Uber and Zomato. "We can earn more than what we would make by working 10 hours in a BPO,'' they say.
The Telangana State Public Service Commission (TSPSC) has a unique software called OTR or one-time registration that allows an easy analysis of who has applied. The data reveals information that borders on the ridiculous.
Among those who have applied 372 have a Ph.D, 539 have M.Phil degrees, 1.5 lakh are postgraduates, over 2 lakh are engineers among the four lakh plus graduates. The TSPSC admits it is a case of too many qualified and too few jobs.
"Government jobs are much sought after as there is job security, good pay and status. Every five years there is pay revision. They get 30-40 per cent hike," said Mr Chakrapani.
Others point out that the VRO is virtually like a collector in the village. "They are powerful even though they seem at the lowest level of the ladder. And they are known to make up to Rs 2 lakh per month through other means. So why wouldn't this job be sought after?" said a political and social analyst.
The other big reason for the huge mismatch between jobs available and qualified candidates is that Telangana has the highest number of engineering colleges and provision for higher education.
"The government introduced a fee reimbursement scheme. So in the last 15 years, the state has been producing huge numbers of engineers, almost 1.5 lakh every year. They are not able to find jobs in the private sector, so they also tend to turn to the government sector for jobs," explained Mr Chakrapani.