Most of us wouldn’t be comfortable at the thought of a former criminal (yes, once the punishment has been meted out, the criminal stops being a criminal) serving us daal makhni in a restaurant or fixing our car engine. But thankfully, Tihar Jail officials are more enlightened than most of us. They have been organising a recruitment drive for inmates who have been behaving well during their stints in the clanger. And the good news is that even in this current job market, the drive has been quite a hit.
Tihar first started this move in February. The next round in July saw above 50 prisoners line up for jobs. The latest one on Tuesday saw around 100 inmates, many of whom were snapped up by employers from hotels, construction companies and security firms.
And why is it such a success? Well, one can understand prospective employers thinking a reformed criminal to be more honest than a potential one after having ne the grind in a prison. Also, the kind of single-minded training without much distractions a jailbird undergoes is unparalleled. And a prisoner about to be releasedi is more liable to accept a job at a less lucrative salary than a free man.
And it’s not just Indian companies lined up in Tihar that’s seeking out this unique labour force. In Britain, Virgin group head Richard Branson is encouraging his companies to hire people just out of prison or waiting to come out. Despite stating that his reason for this policy is that “everyone deserves a second chance”, one guesses that apart from reasons mentioned above, it could also be that the employability of prisoners these days, with ex-bankers changing one set of pin-stripes for another, can be high.
Who wouldn’t like to hire a Jeffrey Archer, a former convict, or an ex-Enron worker, for a decent job? I’m sure many folks here would employ Suresh Kalmadi and A Raja in a flash. As long as they are not given charge of arranging office functions or pitching for tenders respectively.
So if you want to do good business and a good turn, send your HR manager to Tihar. You won’t regret it.
The views expressed by the author are personal