Sunday, August 29, 2010

This is life!!

Suranga’s post on Pension Sarees and Security blankets took me back to the time when I actually thought that I lived in a country where hard work was rewarded. Oh yes it may fetch you a rank and a certificate that you can frame/laminate and place it in your show case but if you expect to be rewarded with a job, let me tell you that you live in the BC era. These days you need to do very well and come out in flying colors but the minute you get your well - deserved degree/diploma start putting away some amount that will come in handy at the appropriate time.

I may sound cynical but that is exactly what is happening. After the well and not so well qualified bridegrooms, jobs are also up for sale. At the cost of antagonizing my feminist friends I feel like taking up for dowry demanding parents of eligible bachelors. They have really raised their sons - fed, clothed and educated them as they claim – so they perhaps have the right to put them up for sale if they so wish. But these conniving politicians and other powers that be have nothing to do with the exorbitant amount of hard work that goes into obtaining a decent result and the preparation for one’s job interview, expect to be paid a hefty sum sometimes the equivalent of a whole year’s expected salary. They spare none –neither the peon nor the class I employee. Humiliating as well as depressing for those who believe that they have done their best and that God would do the rest. The Gods seem to be napping when interview panels are set up!

To be fair, I got my present job purely on merit and that too 10 years after I graduated and I was rather out of touch with my subject. My HOD later told me that she was impressed with my results and was confident that I would soon pick up from where I had left. I have written about it in this post.

I then thought of improving my qualifications and joined my Masters in a local college. And I really worked very hard. I’d leave early and return in evening after attending my classes. It helped that the college timings were different and the principal of our college allowed me leave college and attend classes during my free periods. I’d go to a class -mate’s house for combined study enjoying Gujrati food prepared by her mother. Then my results came. I had topped the batch and broken a 21 year old record to obtain nearly 74%. I was on cloud nine. I then decided to appear for the Eligibility Test for lectureship and cleared it in the first attempt. Only four of us from Jamshedpur qualified the exam in my subject and I saw that all of us were either batch or college toppers. I truly believed that all was not lost. Merit still held a place in society. There were whispers about results being bungled but we had proved that it did not happen in our case. Then came the interview. By then I was already 45 years old and would have to join as a fresher. I was worried if I’d be posted in my home - town or would have to go to some remote area. People advised me to join first and try for a transfer later. I need not have worried. I was not selected and the others who qualified the exam with me were also rejected. Those who were selected either had political/bureaucratic godfathers or had coughed up a year’s salary to grease those with itchy palms. I got my Certificate laminated and put it away in my locker. I attended three subsequent interviews but the outcome was pretty much the same. The rates were increased or so they said.

Then came my Ph.D saga. I worked on my thesis for five long years. I had to submit it for evaluation on or before the completion of 5 years from the date of registration. I had to go to Ranchi to submit 5 copies of the thesis. Before submission I had to get it signed by the Dean, Science faculty as well as HOD – PG department of Botany. On the first day the Dean was not available and I brought it back. Protocol was to be maintained and our HOD could not sign it before the Dean. The next time the Dean signed it but the HOD had left for Patna to attend a Seminar. I was to go a third time just a day before the deadline. My guide cum advisor was beginning to get worried. I went to his place where a colleague of his had dropped by. He advised me to meet the dispatching assistant and to request him to wait while I got the HOD to sign the thesis and paid my evaluation fee.

“The university functions in the morning in summer and by 12:30 in the afternoon these fellows pack up to leave. If you ask him to wait, he will.”

The colleague then lowered his voice and said, “Pay him 50 or 100 rupees for chai/paani he will dispatch your thesis fast.”

“How do I do it Sir?” I was almost in tears. The three trips I made to Ranchi seemed easy. The immense labor that went into my research work was easiest. How on earth does one offer bribe?

The next day I went to Ranchi and went to the dispatch clerk after getting the required signature and asked him to wait while I paid the evaluation fee at the bank and brought him the receipt. He agreed and offered to watch over my thesis while I went about doing my job. I was truly grateful to him but the thought of giving him a hundred rupee note without the others noticing it was disturbing. Anyway I paid the money and came back to him. By now a few of his colleagues who had wound up their work for the day had landed by his desk. I gave him the receipt and 5 copies of the thesis. He smiled and put them away.

“Madam, it was a good thing that you told me. It is well past one in the afternoon and I usually leave by 12:30. I smiled back and thanked him. I still hadn’t given him money. I wondered what I could tell him. I am usually talkative but this was one occasion when words failed me. I hoped that he would ask me for it. He didn’t. I turned around and started walking to the door.

“Madam”………. Someone called.

‘Aha!’ I thought. They are going to ask for money.

“Kya?”(What) I said from where I was.

“Kuch nahi” (Nothing) was his response. I proudly walked out happy to have thwarted his attempt to ask for and accept bribe.

Then trouble started. My thesis was not dispatched for 4 months since he had a lot of ‘important’ work to do. My advisor on one of his visits to Ranchi, took personal interest and dispatched it at his own expense. It cost Rs. 600 in all. Then I went thrice to find out if the examiner’s report had come. One of the evaluators had sent the report the other hadn’t. When contacted he said that he had not received a copy of the thesis yet. My husband and my advisor went personally to Bhuvaneshwar and gave him my personal copy. We waited for 2 more months and approached the dispatch clerk to ask if the report had come but it hadn’t. A whole year had lapsed. I stopped going to Ranchi but would ask anyone going to the University to find out. The answer would be a big ‘No’. Finally it was my HOD who went to the university and was directed to a different person who came back to say that the report from Bhuvaneshwar had come but the other one hadn’t. It so happened that being in a hurry she forgot to ask me for the clerk’s name and when she asked someone about the person who receives reports she was directed to a different person. I would approach a certain GT and she went to another US. I immediately sprang into action. The following day I went to US and collected the report and gave it to GT and requested him to send the file to the Registrar for his approval of a date for the viva-voce. He must have felt that I had been harassed enough and did the needful and nearly 15 months after the submission of the thesis I was awarded my Ph.D. degree. If it hadn’t been for my HOD who went to the wrong person (maybe he was the right person and I was approaching the wrong person) I might have had to wait for a longer period of time. It was however clear that the dispatch clerk had deliberately suppressed the report just because he was not treated to chai-paani by me. I do not rule out the possibility of the duo working in collaboration.

The experience however made me a true Doctor in Philosophy!


Ugich Konitari said...

Lowering of standards, ignoring lack of qualifications and bypassing honestly greatly qualified candidates is so common, I am no longer surprised when it happens. Sometimes the job specifications advertised are even designed with specific people in mind.

But somewhere there is a little voice at the back of my mind that says, dont give in to these bribe-habituated folks; it will take time, but you will get through in the end.

Its OK for those in families where they are not the primary bread-earner. But what happens to someone who, in your place would have had to simply do nothing for months and years, all because no one in the University was bothered to follow rules (without being "compensated" as such ) ?

Many many congratulations on the hard earned doctorate .

Renu said...

Such is the state of governance inour country....I think for stopping people from taking money for job, we must stop giving importance to govt. job,go for others, may be we will get less money, less security but in the long run everything may turn out to be better.

Anonymous said...

I guess the same is the status with one of the renowned unversity here in Chennai.My husband submitted his thesis 3 months back, and the director has not yet signed for sending the same to the examiners.They say he is off to ooty, busy with couselling , and whta not :(
Dont know when the doors will open.My husband is walking to the director's office every week.So far in vain :(,maybe there also they are expecting us to bribe them.

arbitthoughts said...

The state is of affairs is so sad!
I wish there would be some measures in place to curb such bribery, but I guess in the end it is upto us citizens to put an end to this system. If we all resolve to not pay into their hands, maybe the matters might improve.

Congrats on the Ph D.

I have been a long time reader of this blog (way before I started blogging myself). This is my first time commenting. Really like reading your posts.

R's Mom said...

God! This is so so bro refused to bribe the passport office guys about 5 years ago and his passport came after almost an year!!! my dad refused to bribe the income tax guys and my mom was threatened by them at home when he was not around...the story is so so similar...but the best part is there are people like you to make things happen inspite of all this!!! hugs to you :)

zephyr said...

Congrats on the doctorate! You persisted and won over the system, albeit late and with the help of your guide. It takes a lot of courage to say no to corruption and face the consequences. Kudos to you and others like you!

Hip Grandma said...

Suranga:It is a pity that those deserving candidates who put in sincere work and expect to support dependants are also at the receiving ene at a time when every minute is precious.But then who cares?

Renu:The private sector has its own set of problems starting from over exploitation to currying favors. Sincere workers are not adequately rewarded here too.

anon:I know from experience that working on one's thesis is perhaps the easiest thing to do despite frustrating moments. The peripherals are more annoying.

arbitthoughts:Welcome here.Looking forward to more comments from you.
Unfortunately not all are able to resist. With demands made by family and society one seems to find it easier to pay up.The umpteen trips to Ranchi cost me much more than the amount the clerk expected as 'chai-paani' ka paisa. Add to it the resulting tension. But I am also adamant in my own way. Crazy you may say.

R's mom: I see that there are several people like me. 'You stretch your hand as if it is your right and you get nothing.' is my attitude. Annoying perhaps but it is there all the same. My husband is like that too.

zephyr:It is sickening that the dealing clerks expect a percentage in every thing just bacause they can make file/documem=nts disappear.Their bosses never seem to question them and that makes me suspicious of them too.