Vinay, my nephew thinks that the competition in India is scary today for getting a job. Of course, being a millennial, he would not know about the India with its noble(?) socialistic ideas which was making the country progress with two to three percent growth. Forget competition, there were no jobs except for the ones where The Government played a role in deciding who got employed.
The second reason was couple of WhatsApp messages from Naga which reminded me of this story. I messaged him, “One way it was good Naga. Instead of retiring as Engineering Superintendents after thirty years of service, they became entrepreneurs, investment banker and CEOs of global companies.”
This story is not contemporary, but will help you to get a peek into the past. Read on……
Only Two Castes – Sujatha
சாதி இரண்டொழிய – சுஜாதா
Professor Narasimhan looked outside his cabin. Young people were waiting to be interviewed. Everyone carrying bunch of certificates, filled with hope that this time he/she would get the job, seated on the chairs laid outside. As Sethuraman gave him a sheet containing the names filled alphabetically, Narasimhan asked him, How many more?”
“Twenty Seven Sir. We should complete this before lunch. We have SC/ST quota in the afternoon. We have scheduled the regular candidates in the morning. Let’s finish this.”
“Forward community in the morning and Backward in the afternoon? Avvaiyar said ‘there are only two castes.’ Prem could you see this suits us even for this interview?”
Avvaiyar is a Tamil poet lived in 3rd century BCE. In the poem ‘saathi irandoyzhiya,’ she says there are only two castes. People who follow ethical path and values are higher caste and who don’t follow are lower class. I have given the poem & meaning at the end. **
Everyone in the panel looked at him, shocked as if Narasimhan used foul language to scold them. Premnath said, “Call the next candidate…. Sir look at Matrimonial column in The Hindu. Caste has not gone anywhere.”
The Youngman came inside and wished them ‘Good Morning Sirs,’ and stood hesitating. Narasimhan told him, “sit down.”
“What’s your name?”
“Let me see…. distinction, distinction, distinction, GPA three point nine, what rank in college?”
“Who was first?”
“The whole forward community have names only Ramesh and Suresh.” commented Siddarth.
“If you have Narasimhan or Venkatachari – you will not job.” commented Premnath. The Youngman was looking at them alternatively and smiled gently.
“Has he come to interview as well?”
“What is your rank in the University?”
“Eighth or Ninth – not sure.”
“Did you apply for jobs elsewhere?”
“Have you got selected?”
“I don’t know. I have applied for a position in BHEL, ITI, NTPC.”
“Have you written UPSC exams?”
“Yes sir. That too.”
Before Premnath could ask a technical question, Narasimhan asked him, “Ramesh let me ask a frank question. You have scored very good marks. Why have you not got a job even after one year after passing out?”
He looked at him intensely. He removed his specs, wiped it clean and smiled again. But the question must have hurt him. “I just don’t know sir. I think I don’t have luck.”
Premnath asked him, “What is your strong subject?”
“Analogue or Digital?”+
As Ramesh moved towards the whiteboard and started to draw to explain his answers to Premnath’s questions, Narasimhan studied his life history which he presented through his certificates. Winner of intra college elocution competitions, computer society for students’ awards, trekking and NCC certificates. When Premnath finished his questions, he asked Siddarth, “Anything Siddu?” When Siddarth nodded his head to indicate, ‘no,’ he told Ramesh, “You can go now.” Ramesh hesitated again and said, “Sir. I just want to ask you something……”
“Have I done well in this interview. Do I have a chance?”
“You’ll hear from us. We will send you a letter. We don’t know as yet.” Everyone looked at him with an ennui. Ramesh’s lips started shivering as began to speak.
“Sir this is my eighth interview. I have come to the edge – sort of. I am desperate. I have a responsibility to take care of my family. We are very poor.”
“We all have a responsibility to take care of our families.” As Siddarth said this, everyone laughed except Narasimhan.
“What is your father doing Ramesh?”
“Retired elementary school teacher sir.”
“I have four sisters.”
Siddarth said, “Good. If you get selected we will inform you. OK?” The Youngman said, “Thank you sirs,” collected his certificates and looked at them once more as he left the room. Siddarth told Narasimhan, “Mr. Chairman. I think it is not necessary to ask about candidates’ family backgrounds.” He represented SC/ST quota allocation in the company.
“No Siddarth, it is not like that. Though he comes from a poor background he has done very well. Should we not take him?”
“We have to see other candidates and the number of vacancies available.” replied Siddarth.
Premnath said, “He has answered my questions well. Brilliant.”
“Bright boy. Has done well academically. We can provisionally select him.”
“Twenty seven people are appearing for the interview. There are only four vacancies. If he comes in the final ranking we can qualify him.”
“Only son of retired elementary school teacher, poor background with four sisters.”
“I think we should not worry about all these.”
He looked at Personnel Department Sethuraman and asked him, Sethu are you sure only four vacancies?”
He looked at the paper again and asked, “But it says ten vacancies here.”
“Six vacancies are for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled tribes Sir.”
“The interview is in the afternoon.”
“So it is difficult to offer a positing to this boy?”
“Yes sir. We have already qualified five people. All are toppers.”
Narasimhan asked, “Can we not convert some of the Quota?” Sethuraman (personnel) got shocked and said, “Sir please don’t open that topic. We are already at default.”
Siddarth replied, “Let me explain. This is a federal Government Company. We need to follow strict quota rules here for instance so many seats for Scheduled Castes and so many seats for Scheduled Tribes. But the management don’t follow this rule with an answer that they don’t get the right candidates for quota seats. This is the centenary year of Dr. Ambedkar. So the Government has asked all the companies to fill up all the backlog quota seats with candidates from those communities. So we can’t dodge this year by filling up the seats with regular candidates.”
“Sethuraman, how many people are attending the interview in the afternoon?”
“Six candidates sir.”
“For how may vacancies?”
“Six. There is a good demand for these candidates.”
Narasimhan could not understand any of this. He said, “Looks absurd to me.”
“Nothing absurd sir. They are only correcting the sins committed in the past. All these happened because the company did not take any active steps to fill those vacancies. The commission has sent very strong objection to the Government.”
“So you are telling me the boy will not get a chance!”
“Yes sir. Difficult.”
“It’s a pity. He is suffering because he is born a brahmin.”
“How do you know he is a brahmin?”
“OK. Not a brahmin. A Mudaliyar, or a Chettiyar, or a Pillai…….!”
Everyone looked at Siddarth and he said, “I think we should not blow this up too much. You have asked this boy about his background. Ask the candidates who come in the afternoon. You will know whose father is a cobbler, who is a farmhand, who is a porter. Let us not get emotional. These laws are formed by constitutional experts when we got freedom to atone for the sins committed over a thousand years.”
Narasimhan started to something but Siddarth just said, “Call the next candidate.”
They completed interviewing the three remaining candidates to complete the formality and got up for lunch. Siddarth took Sethuraman aside and asked him, “What kind of Chairman is he? He doesn’t know the rules and regulation and talks about caste all the time.”
Sethuraman tried to calm him down, “Not like that sir. He has just come back from USA and joined here. He doesn’t understand how we function here.”
“How does it matter to me where is he from?” Narasimhan commented harshly.
In the afternoon the SC ST candidates were being interviewed. Before the interview could start, Siddarth said, “Sethuraman please explain the interview process for the afternoon to the chairman.”
Narasimhan asked, “What?”
“Sir when we interview these candidates, we have to lower our standards a bit. If they don’t understand the question we have to explain it more elaborately to them.”
“Why we should we do that?”
“These are the rules.” Siddarth added.
“Yes. Because they come from marginalized society they did not have opportunities to progress in life. So to bring them forward in the society we have to do everything possible. That’s why these rules are formed.”
“OK fine. You only ask them questions. I won’t”
“No No. You can aske them questions. But find out what they know and then ask questions. Not what they don’t know anything about.”
A young lady came in first. “Sit down. What’s your name?”
The girl replied, “Sheela.” She had cut her hair in style. She twiddled a pencil, raised her big eyes and looked at everyone alternatively.
Sethuraman, “Sheela. You should have appeared for interview yesterday. Is it not?”
“Yes sir. I could not come yesterday.”
“OK. It is alright.”
Premnath, “Sheela what is your favourite subject?”
“I asked about the subject you learnt in college.”
“Mmm… ask me…..” she bit on the pencil.
“Can I ask anything?”
Siddarth intervened, “Sheela, in which subject you want to be questioned and you want to answer?”
“Mmm…. anything” she let out charming smile.
Narasimhan, “Look young lady! do you understand the question?” Her smile froze immediately and replied, “Yes.”
Prem, “Alright. What was your project?”
She replied, “Filter design.”
“OK. Tell me four sentences about your project.” Narasimhan asked her.
She smiled again and said, “Sorry sir. I forgot.”
“When did you complete this project work?”
“You mean, in less than two months, you forgot the subject?”
Siddarth, “Do you at least remember the title?”
“I went out of town with my father. I just came back today and came directly her. I did not have time to revise the subject.” There was a convent accent in her pronunciation.
“Anything else gentleman? Siddarth asked but did not wait for an answer. She told her, “You may go now.”
As Sheela stood up, Narasimhan asked her, “Sheela what is father’s name?”
Sheela looked at everyone as if to ask should she really answer this question.
“What is your father doing?”
“He is a director.”
“C R L E”
“OK you can go now” Siddarth said.
Narasimhan was not ready. He asked her. “One final question. Where did you go with your father?”
“Switzerland.” She looked at everyone, smiled graciously again and said, “Good day.”
When she left, Narasimhan asked, “What do you say Siddarth? Should we give her a job?”
“Why? Why do you have a doubt?”
“Is this lady from a backward class? Her father is a director in a Central Government Lab. She has just been to Switzerland on a holiday.”
Siddarth, “Sethuraman Check her community certificates.”
“They are in order. She if from a scheduled caste community.”
“What an injustice! Is she backward?”
Siddarth, “What is injustice in this?”
Siddarth, “We don’t have any rights to question all these professor. She is backward as per the rules the Central Government has laid out.”
“So we have to give her the job?”
“She did not even answer any question properly.”
“You did not ask properly. You were questioning only about her birth.”
“I feel we should not give her this job.”
Sethuraman got a bit tensed and said, “Sir please qualify her. Already the SC commission is frying us why are we not filling up the quota vacancies. We should fill them up.”
“Siddarth. Please tell me. Does this not look injustice to you?”
“That we are not offering this positing to the boy and offering to her. You both saw how they answered.”
Siddarth looked at the professor directly, “Yes professor, this is injustice. But far worse injustice has been done to them. About thousand years ago. We have still not made any justice to that.”
“So Sethuraman we have to make an offer to her?”
Siddarth replied with a smile, “Yes sir.” Against Sheela’s name, Narasimhan wrote, ‘Suitable.’
“Who is forward and who is backward? What kind of nation is this?” Narasimhan murmured with a sigh.
Narasimhan finished the interviews, came out got into the lift. As he got into his car and started, he saw the young man Ramesh. He was standing at the corner bus stop holding his briefcase and a shoulder bag. Narasimhan was wondering what was he doing all this time? May be he must visited someone in the vicinity.
A car from C L R E had to pick up the girl Sheela. She got into the car. Narasimhan looked out again. The boy was drinking water from the municipal tap. Before he could call him, his bus had arrived. He got into the bus and disappeared from Narasimhan’s sight.
**சாதி இரண்டொழிய வேறில்லை சாற்றுங்கால்
நீதி வழுவா நெறிமுறையின் மேதனியில்
இட்டார் பெரியோர் இடாதார் இழிகுலத்தோர்
பட்டாங்கில் உள்ள படி
Saadhi Irandozhiya Verillai Saatrungaal
Needhi Vazhuvaa Nerimuraiyin Maedhaniyil
Ittar Periyor Idadhaar Izhikulathor
Pattaangil Ulla Padi
If people should be classified based on caste, the truth is to say that there are only two such classifications. The one who does not go off the path of ethical values, ethical behavior, generosity called as Noble (Periyor) and the ones that don’t – Ignoble (Izhikulathor). Other than there are no other castes.
Courtesy Mr. R. Prabu’s blog:
Sujatha (3 May 1935 – 27 February 2008) was the pseudonym of the Tamil author S. Rangarajan, author of over 100 novels, 250 short stories, ten books on science, ten stage plays, and a slim volume of poems. He was one of the most popular authors in Tamil literature, and a regular contributor to topical columns in Tamil periodicals such as Ananda Vikatan, Kumudam and Kalki. He had a wide readership, and served for a brief period as the editor of Kumudam, and has also composed screenplays and dialogues for several Tamil movies.
Penning with his wife’s name, Sujatha’s Tamil literary career spanned more than four decades. An engineer by profession, he was proficient in the language of technology. Widely read and knowledgeable, he presented his knowledge in simple Tamil.
His works stood out during a time when Tamil composing was dominated by social/family dramas and historical novels. His identification with the masses, and his uncanny adoption of their way of talking, behavior, mindset and slang, helped make him popular across multiple demographic segments.
His popularization of technology was one of his greatest contributions – starting with his Silicon Chip composing in Dinamani Kadhir and Yen, Yedharku, Eppadi in Junior Vikatan. At one point, his composing was appearing in numerous Tamil weeklies and journals simultaneously, including Ananda Vikatan, Kumudam, Kungumam, Kalki and Dhinamani Kadhir. Later he contributed as script/screenplay author for several Tamil movies. His notable movies included Vikram,Thiruda Thiruda, Boys and Sivaji. Most of his early novels/stories were made as movies, including Priya, Gaytri, Karaiyellam Senbagapoo and Anandha Thandavam, among others.
In his later days he restricted his composing to essays such as Katradhum-Petradhum. He began to spend more time reading, especially old rare Tamil composings and composings on the latest developments in information technology and computing.
As an engineer, he supervised the design and production of the electronic voting machine (EVM) during his tenure at Bharat Electronics Limited, a machine which is currently used in elections throughout India. As an author he inspired many authors, including Balakumaran, Madhan, Charu Nivedita. – Wikipedia.