It all started as a routine meeting of all faculty. The second fortnight of March it was.
Yes. You guessed it right. Whenever we had no other work,
we were called to attention.
we meet and discuss.
On that day as we , i mean, all faculty, met at the spacious hall of our Principal , the meeting wore an air of expectation.
Yes. A dignitary from CO was visiting our centre to interact with all faculty. The boss said he expected the dignitary to have a didactic discussion with every faculty too.
Why should it be like that ? asked an ever inquisitive friend..
"I wish you better put this the question straight to him." said our boss.
The meeting was to take place at 2.30 p.m. It is was already 3.00 p.m. but yet the visiting dignitary was not in sight. Nor was there was any message from him.
A couple of our friends (faculty) appeared tense. To them this meeting appeared to be more than a routine. They were, as we knew, in the reckoning for promotion to a higher cadre. A third one was also similarly placed but never revealed so much interest in the matter of promotions. To him life at the centre was a comfort zone and possibly he was enjoying it. A promotion may entail in a shift which disturbance he could hardly afford to face at this age.
In any case, everyone knew that basis of promotion to a higher cadre at least DMs and above were based mostly on perceptions rather than the usually talked about CRs.
I knew the dignitary even before. He was a highly placed marketing man during his tenure here at chennai.
Much as I would convince my colleagues to treat this meet as another one, the tense face my colleagues sported could hardly be camouflaged.
At last the dignitary came, and the meeting started.
With a brief self introduction by each faculty (was it seven or eight ?) being over, the dignitary started addressing us.
A few minutes passed. A few faculty listened with rapt attention, with their eyes half closed. Dreaming or dozing I did not verify. A couple of others possibly thought that he was not telling anything which we were not ourselves conveying in our class rooms.
Then suddenly there was a pause.
His silence made us wake up. In measured tone
he aired a question.
"how do faculty feel being in a training environment, after having been in the marketing area ? "
In 80s and 90s, officers from the side of sales were prone to feel embarrassed on a posting to Training Centres. Is that feeling of being ambushed still lurks nowadays among sales-side officers ? I do not know. For them a posting as a faculty in the Training Centres was perceived as a punishment !!
I do remember during the days of my induction training , a co-participant at MDC, who had served as Senior DM in charge of some Division in Gujarat, could not swallow the posting which he said shocked him especially after a brilliant performance. I remember he even dared to air his protest at the inaugural day in front of MD.
Back to the story.
Responses to the query were on expected lines.
"Quarantine leave" one said.
Another said that he enjoyed as he could relate himself with sales force from a different linguistic area. He learnt to enjoy chakka pradhaman, and learnt Malayalam. Said, " It would help me if I were to get posted as SDM at Trivandrum, you know. "
A third one philosophically suggested that "ups and downs always happens in life - you know".
The dignitary turned his eye on faculty who belonged to other shades,their backgrounds assorted . Fellows of Insurance Studies, a half (not half-baked) Actuary, a CA, a legal man , and a couple who rose from ranks. not DROs.
"What do we do here ?" He put it straight.
There was a dry laughter amidst all.
Several replies must have come to their minds they carefully chose not to convert as words such as:
"chatting", "lecturing" "group dining" "shepherding trainees"
One faculty came forward to define his role. Possibly remembered the sentence he read at MDC.
"The trainer's job at the Training Centre is to enhance and elevate the levels of skill and knowledge, shape , mould and motivate the trainee officers to develop the right type of attitude based on their own aptitude. In short, it is to inform , perform and reform."
" He is in full form."A neighbour of mine hissed in my ears:
"you are too technical. Make it straight. More simple ?" the dignitary suggested.
"Sir ! We impart training on rules and regulations, in fact we explain the basis of several CO circulars . You know - 'to read and understand these manuals our executives do not have enough time in their working environment.' So we teach. "
"You are beating about the bush. " laughed the dignitary.
Putting Emphasis on the word, 'teach'
"Do we really teach here ?"
So teasing , short of annoying, was his question, that faculty possibly had no answer.
A friend of mine about to retire hissed: "We preach also."
He turned at me.
I said : " I learn "
"what ? you mean the ALITER CONCEPT ! "
After a pause, I replied, "Yes Sir. I learn here to unlearn."
Another "What " from the CO man.
"In fact, I see this as an opportunity to unlearn everything I have learnt in the last thirty three years or so. When I interact with men and women who assemble here, I feel I have more things to learn from them than I have to give them."
My colleagues looked at me. Our own boss appeared visibly perplexed. He was possibly wondering whether any chance of being promoted at all in the rest of my career,I had already lost. In any case,little it mattered to him as he always knew me as one incorrigible.
"So you say you have begun shaping yourself !"
"In a way. yes. the period one spends here should enable one to develop a vision not only for oneself but for the organisation too. "
"Will u develop that idea ?"
"The trainees who come here do exhibit a lot of ideas creative. By interacting and working with them, though for a limited period, it is possible to distance ourselves from our past ways of doing jobs and find new routes for higher performances."
"You say then you are not teaching here."
"Possibly yes,if you assign a conventional meaning with the word. In fact, I relate with those who come, pose before them a few situations and just observe. Our job, as i feel, is to create an environment where they could visualise and set new goals for themselves in the organisation."
" you feel it is worth ! you feel it is necessary?"
Sir ! I have always a conviction, that if men are enabled to design their jobs, they exert and excel. Their contribution to the organisation also reaches higher levels. "
"Where are you then......? "
"you may call us a catalyst in the process . And in the process, I see I also grow. I believe when I go from here, I shall be a transformed person."
The CO dignitary looked at my boss. Said, "it depends ."
"Why not we have a tea-break ! " he suggested.
The snacks had come by that time. Biscuits, fried cashew nuts,, somosa and tea.
I wake up.
At this old age, i am already 74 +, events of past do come as dreams
But how come ! All the faces of my close dear friends and equally their voices !!