When a Student returns to alma mater at the end of career
This is the most memorable and important day of my life. The reason will be obvious to all – we are formally launching my book ‘People at Work – The Untold Story of Labour Management Relations’ at this institute where I studied and obtained my post graduate degree in Labour Studies in 1973. Exactly fifty years ago! (My speech on the occasion of launch of ‘People At Work – The Untold Story of Labour Management Relations’ at NMLMILS on Dec 12, 2023)
And a lot has happened in these fifty years. The textile mills in Mumbai have vanished, in fact all factories in Mumbai have vanished, and high-rise apartments have come in their place. Internet has changed the way we work, and it will change it further. At the institute, in my days, we discussed wisdom and intelligence of great people. Now they discuss artificial intelligence. Everything has changed, radically changed, since I passed out of this institute. But one thing will never change – it is our gratitude for this institution.
I have not forgotten what I learnt at this institute; it has been the guiding me in my career. Dr BR Rairikar was the Director of the Institute. He and Dr VG Mhetras both were well known labour economists, and Dr Shanta Vaidya who was the professor of Industrial Sociology – she had a PhD from a London University – later she headed the research wing of Hind Mazdoor Sabha. They shaped our minds, thoughts and I will remain ever grateful to them. I pay my respect to them. Everything must begin with Guru-vandana, and this comes not because of tradition but because of my deep sense of gratitude for them.
I often met Dr Shanta Vaidya at her Pune home whenever I visited the city. On one such occasion Dr Shanta Vaidya presented a book to me. She had authored it. It was a book in which she had written short essays about various religions in the world. She said, “I always wanted to write this book and I am happy that I have finally done it.” She was eighty-two years old then (I hope my memory serves me right). I bowed, touched her feet, and said ‘aashirvad dyaa, (bless me) so that I can write a book at the age of eighty-two like you.’ Her blessings must have worked, I have written this book on labour management relations at the age of seventy-two. And we are launching it formally at my alma mater. What more can one ask from life?
I learnt that there are three phases in our career. First ten years we must focus on ‘learning,’ next ten years on ‘earning’ and the remaining on ‘returning.’ Returning, as the word suggests, is all about giving back to the society. When you work for twenty plus years in your profession, you develop a certain view of what is right, what is wrong and what needs to be done. All this ought to be told to people, particularly to the young generation in the remaining part of one’s life. We must leave a legacy.
My book, ‘People At Work – The Untold Story of Labour Management Relations’ is my contribution in that direction. This book represents my ‘returning’ with gratitude to the Society. It is also the culmination of my career in Human Resource Management and Industrial relations.
In my book, I have written about labour management relations. Much is written about the managers and leaders in the business magazines, but rarely something is written about the workers who form ‘precariat.’ They write about workers when something goes wrong, when there is an accident, or a strike. But rarely anyone writes about their way of life and their problems. If we are to create an equitable society, we cannot neglect this section of our society; I would say we must urgently do something for them. In my book I have captured their life. It was a moving experience to meet many workers, visit their homes and listen to their stories. I have also interviewed a few entrepreneurs who can be role models.
I hope that my book succeeds in making the sensibilities of readers more acute. If that happens, I will think that my mission is successful.
Sir, the dignitaries on dais, ladies, and gentlemen, I thank for your presence at this event which is one of the most important ones in my life. I shall remain ever grateful.
“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.” / All work copyrighted.