JHARKAND, India: Being a namesake of any celebrity can do wonders for you, and at the same time, can land you in a hot water. An Indian boy suffered the latter and that for sharing a same name with former late Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussain. The marine engineer from Jamshedpur in Jharkhand is now despondent on being forced to bear the burden of his name. Two years after passing out as a marine engineer from Tamil Nadu’s Noorul Islam University, Saddam Hussain says he has failed to find a job because of his namesake: ex-Iraqi ruler who was executed in 2006. Saddam Hussein was a dictator until toppled by the US in 2003. “People are scared to hire me,” laments Jamshedpur’s Saddam. His job application has been rejected each of the 40-odd times he has appeared for interviews with multinational shipping companies. His batchmates around the world have secured employment, but Saddam remains unemployed despite ranking second in his batch of 2014. For the initial six months, Saddam was unable to decipher why he was being rejected. “I then inquired with the HR departments of the companies and some of them told me my name was the problem,” he recounts. He was told that having a crew member with a name that arouses instant suspicion could be an operational nightmare.
A top executive of Delhi-based TeamLease Services, a leading recruitment consultant, agrees. “If the issue involves crossing the borders, then nothing can be done as border patrol and airport authorities are very process-driven and if there is a red flag, they will check out. If the person’s job involves frequent travel abroad, he might just keep getting stuck or the company has to pull him out of the sticky situation, making the hire cumbersome,” he points out. “Even Shah Rukh Khan gets detained at US airports. What is this Saddam in comparison?” he asks. Getting rid of the name is proving to be a bigger nightmare. The boy, after months of hectic efforts, finally managed to get his name changed to Sajid and procured all relevant documents, including passport, voter ID and driving licence, under the name. But his misery didn’t end here. Prospective employers ask for his educational certificates, but his university has refused to change the name until he got his Class 10 and 12 exam certificates changed first. He approached the Central Board of Secondary Education, for a name change, but the authorities have not acted yet. Driven to desperation, Saddam, now Sajid, moved the Jharkhand high court with a plea to direct the CBSE to change his name. And now he awaits for the next hearing to get his case heard.