IMMEDIATELY after completing my master’s degree in botany, I was appointed as a lecturer at a government college in Chandigarh in 1971. Teaching pre-university and pre-medical classes was a new experience. After few months, I got a jolt when a senior teacher approached me and asked: ‘Why you have come here to rot?’ ‘Sir, this is a job I enjoy,’ I responded. ‘Believe me, teaching is a third-class profession in India: no authority, no chair to sit, no one to offer you even a glass of water… the sooner you leave it, the better it will be.’
Being a temporary job, I had to leave teaching and join as a clerk in New Bank of India (now Punjab National Bank), Hoshiarpur. I was told by a a senior bank official that the ‘job of a banker is the most degraded job in India, for here you have to wag your tail even before the lalaji of a small grocery shop, simply to retain his deposits. Switch over to another job.’
After being relieved from the bank’s temporary job, I found myself as the fisheries officer in Sangrur. After a week, the Assistant Director asked me if I intended to stick to this job. If I got a permanent posting, I would continue, I said. ‘Listen, the job of a primary schoolteacher is far superior to this job, because there is some chance of a promotion. Once a fisheries officer, always a fisheries officer,’ he emphasised.
In March 1973, fate brought me to a laboratory at Modinagar in the capacity of a chemist. It was smooth-sailing by any yardstick. After two months began a recurring advice from all colleagues: ‘A job of Rs 100 in the government sector is far better than a job of Rs 10,000 in a private enterprise, because there is no job security here. It will be better if you try your luck somewhere else.’
After a four-month tenure, I felt honoured when I got an opportunity to work with distinguished doctors of the PGI, Chandigarh. A postgraduate in science, it was more satisfying to work among the scientific community, though on temporary basis. On the very first day of joining, a colleague murmured the advice: ‘One should not work for an autonomous institutions like this, you get ruined; no rules, no reputation. I myself am planning to shift to Singapore.’ Indeed, the person quit after a month.
After tasting the setup of different cities and different institutions, in 1974, I pursued my degree in library science from Panjab University and entered a new profession. Here, nobody could discourage me, because I had the first-hand experience of the hard realities of life — in India, no one is contented in any job.
After serving as a librarian in different universities for over 42 years, I was relieved in 2018 as the most contented person.
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