India as a country has progressed in leaps and bounds over the past years. From being degraded as backward and medieval, to being recognized as the fastest growing economy in the world, the world’s perception of India has changed a great deal, so has the quality of life and the mindset of the Indian public. Modernity and technological advancements have defined how people function and interact, and this is especially reflected in the state of the present Indian job market. The Indian economy is now vibrant and moving from strength to strength, backed by a skilled and focused workforce.
But scratch the surface, and a whole other face of India unfolds before you. The land cloaked in mystique and intrigue, which captured the imagination of several travellers and thinkers in ages gone by is still there, waiting to be discovered. Across Millenia, people have chanced upon this magical land and fallen in love with its million little quirks and eccentricities.
Indian culture has enough sub-contexts and idiosyncrasies to populate an entire library worth of text. The uniqueness of thought and atypicality of the Indian psyche is especially evident in the nature of jobs still present in our society. While globalization and connectivity have revolutionized employment in India’s larger cities, a huge chunk of the population still ekes out a living, often doing job which can only be described as bizarre!
Listed below are a few of the occupations, which Indians can proudly (or regretfully) say aren’t found anywhere else on the planet!
1.Sewage cleaners and manual scavengers: –
[Image Credits -menmatters.com ]
We often hear techies and young professionals complain about the repetitive and mundane nature of their work. Now, imagine jumping into a drain filled with vile smelling waste and dirt, over and over again for years on end, and being paid a paltry sum to do so. This sums up the life of a sewage cleaner in India. Horrific conditions and the threat of infection and disease are an everyday affair. Sewage cleaners are viewed with the least dignity, but our own waste would spill onto the streets if it weren’t for them. Manual scavengers also clean human excrement with their own hands. Given the utter disregard for human safety in these occupations, they have been duly banned. But in the absence of viable alternatives, both for the employer and the employee, this pitiful practice still continues in several parts of the country
2.Professional mourners: –
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The very concept of this job is so outlandish that it leaves people unaccustomed to Indian quirks scratching their head. In several remote areas, especially in Rajasthan, women, mostly from lower castes are hired to cry at the funerals of upper caste people. Being paid to fake sadness doesn’t sound so bad, but these women are viewed as inauspicious, and hence ostracized from society. Coupled with the measly pay that they are given, this job sounds like a raw deal.
3.Corpse photographer: –
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Visit the holy city of Varanasi, and all along the ghats, you will come across several studios that specialize only in photography of the dead. Taking pictures of the corpse is an integral part of the last rites of a person here, and these pictures are preserved for posterity. However, choosing to become a corpse photographer essentially means foregoing all other forms of photography. They are viewed as bringers of misfortune, are aren’t allowed near any auspicious events.
4.Parrot astrologers: –
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Similar to tarot card readers, these men sit with a caged parrot, and 27 cards spread in front of them. When a customer approaches the astrologer to know his future, the parrot picks any one card and hands it to him, based on which he interprets the customer’s future. These attractions are favourites of tourists looking to take back stories of India’s eclectic and unique culture.
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In a society that gives so much importance to caste and religion, it is no surprise that such a difficult and archaic profession has survived through the ages. These individuals are tasked with keeping family records that often date back centuries. Vast family trees are maintained and updated manually, with methods as efficient as to eliminate family members who have married outside the caste, and also to update details of deaths and new births.
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A 125-year-old business that has become the object of business studies worldwide definitely deserves to be in our list. The dabbawallas undertake the collection and delivery of home-cooked food to offices, with impeccable logistics and unmatched margin of error. The fact that this business continues to grow at 5-10% every year even with the emergence of several food delivery start-ups is testament to its efficiency, and people’s belief in the system.
7.Transgender entertainers: –
Traditionally one of the most disadvantaged and disenfranchised communities in the world, the transgender community has benefited from the superstitious nature of Indian society. All auspicious events such as marriages and the birth of a new born are graced by several hijras, who bless the new couple or child in exchange for a few thousand rupees. The curse of a hijra is purported to be especially powerful, and people are especially wary not to upset one.
8.Tantriks and faith healers: –
Religious cities such as Varanasi are filled with religious figures, claiming to be free of all material desires and possessing the power to solve all your problems, through their blessings. For a trivial fee, they often give you blessed trinkets and tips on how to tackle all your problems.