Day after day, an ‘informal counselling’ takes place near the entrance of Anna University, the venue for the single-window counseling for TNEA-2013 (Tamil Nadu Engineering Admissions) – attended by thousands of aspirants from all over the State.
“Want a seat at a college in Tindivanam? Here are the contact details,” says a person standing just outside the varsity, as he hands passers-by visiting cards of a private engineering college located in the said area.
Not to be outdone, a person standing near him thrusts forward a brochure of another engineering institution, located on the OMR, while adding, “Placement guaranteed, sir. Hundred per cent.”
A couple of others stand beside a fruit juice stall, handing out visiting cards of the institutions silently. It may be interesting to note that these people abide by a modus-operandi when it comes to publicising the institution that has hired them to do so.
Says Arun, a youth barely in his twenties, who has been hired to distribute the publicity material of a college belonging to a political heavyweight: “Our target of giving away 250-300 pamphlets to the passers-by, is determined beforehand. It takes us not more than a couple of hours to complete our task. If we can distribute more than what we had bargained for, we get paid a little extra.” On how much money they would be paid for the task, he says that it starts from a minimum of `100- `150. “The rest depends on our bargaining skills.”
Meanwhile, an aggressive sales pitch is on at a sugarcane juice stall right opposite the entrance of the varsity. The college in question belongs to an opposition party leader.
“Ladies and gentlemen, this is an excellent college,” says the canvasser. He cites the political reputation of its owner to make a point, as he hands out the material. This rouses the attention of the public, albeit slightly, as some of them make an effort to collect it; some browse through the material, some do not even glance at it. Most others drop it and walk away, littering the spot.
However, the secretary of TNEA-2013, Rhymend Uthariaraj says that they have received no complaints against such persons. “We can only ensure that they are not within our campus. If we try to drive them away, they would counter that they are on public property. At the most, we can drive them away from the entrance; if they make their presence felt at the bus-stops nearby there is little we can do about it.”
He adds that a battalion comprising 100 policemen have been stationed on the campus in order to safeguard the public against touts of any kind. “Instant action will be initiated if they receive any public complaint.”