Offbeat jobs turn mainstream as thriving startups try out innovative businesses

 BANGALORE: Across the country's rapidly growing entrepreneurial landscape, young companies are looking for people who can care for the aged, negotiate deals with temple priests, run household errands and offer intelligent reviews of food and drink, all as part of a day's work. These jobs, once considered offbeat, are now gaining a mainstream flavour that is proving attractive for young graduates.

"Very few jobs will offer me the opportunity to learn about Indian festivals and the legends behind crores of gods and goddesses," said Sakshi Lihla, 21, a
Delhi University graduate who first interned at OnlinePrasad. com, a startup that offers a range of religious services. Lihla is now a full-time content author at the fledgling company. The Gurgaon-based startup is looking for sales managers, who will be sent on a 'pilgrimage' around India and paid an annual salary of up to Rs 5 lakh. Their job will be to forge tieups with local priests, hire executives around major temples and deliver prasad to online customers.

Another company
Epoch Eldercare, which has a team of 20 specialists caring for the aged, is looking to add 70 more this year. Their demand is for people who have taken care of their grandparents or have natural geriatric care skills. "Though we prefer people who are occupational therapists or psychologists, it's not an essential criterion. Many people living in joint families have had a chance to take care of grandparents, and may be naturally suited," said Tanvi Dalal, head of human resources at Epoch Eldercare.

These unusual jobs are an offshoot of rising entrepreneurial activity in India. Industry experts estimate that every year about 600 new ventures are set up in the country, which employ about 50 people on an average in the first two years of operations. Many of these young companies focus on offering lifestyle services to a growing swathe of middle-income people. For instance, geriatric care is expected to become a large industry, with those above the age of 65 in India expected to grow to 270 million by 2050 from about 100 million now.