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Placements crisis: As anti-CAA protests drive away recruiters, anxious institutes seek police protection

Some recruiters have stayed away from certain campuses on fear of violence or even to avoid being seen as taking an anti-government stance.

December 24, 2019 / 06:18 PM IST

Students at a prominent technology institute in Tamil Nadu had been gearing up for their final placements when protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) struck the region. The unrest led a Bengaluru-based e-commerce giant to scrap its first visit to the institute’s campus just three days ahead of schedule. This left the institute with little choice but to seek police protection during the placement season.

With anti-CAA protests spreading like wildfire, engineering and management institutes including esteemed ones like IIT Guwahati, IIM Shillong and NIT Srinagar that are smack in the middle of the placement season are finding it tough to persuade hiring managers to visit their campuses.

“We are being cautious. We don’t want to get involved in any incident,” said the head of human resources at the e-commerce firm mentioned above.

Campus placements account for a chunk of entry-level hirings for companies but the anti-CAA protests this year have been a deterrent.

The placement process typically covers an entire day beginning from the shortlisting of resumes to a few rounds of interviews and group discussions. The process may extend to a couple of days or more if a higher number of positions are on offer.

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The anti-CAA protests and related violence between December 5 and December 23 are estimated to have caused a 20 percent drop in the number of job offers at institutes in cities like Guwahati, Lucknow, Kashmir, Shillong and Bengaluru.

A few technology firms have offered students the option of video interviews, but the numbers are lower than in 2018.

“We have sought special police protection from the local administration. Without this, recruiters have refused to come to campuses to hire,” said the head of placements at a Lucknow-based business school.

A Mumbai-based designer, for instance, insisted that his team is given special security right from the airport to visit the campus of a Gujarat-based design institute. Alternatively, he suggested students visit Mumbai for interviews. With both these options proving expensive, the institute is now considering seeking police protection for the campus.

“Let the public protest peacefully. We are only saying that students’ careers should not get hampered,” said the institute's director.

Interestingly, companies are not just avoiding campuses due to physical threat from the protests. They also want to avoid being seen as taking an anti-government stance.

As the human resources head of a large financial services firm based in Mumbai noted, the company is 'consciously avoiding' campuses where students have reportedly protested over the past few days to avoid any 'controversies'. They could reconsider their decision next month, he noted.

Placements, widely accepted as a more effective mechanism for students to find jobs while still on campus, typically conclude by February. Companies close their hiring calendar for the year by March making it tough for freshers to find a job thereafter.
M Saraswathy
first published: Dec 24, 2019 06:18 pm

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