Monday, June 30, 2008

Physical Disability V/S Social Disability

Last month when I was in the need of man power to start the operations of state of the art vehicle test line. I started looking for right guys. In my area it is very difficult to get right guys for vehicle testing. For vehicle testing, that too in an OEM manufacturing unit, guys have to have their senses open. More than that they should have the consciousness at every moment. It becomes a nightmare to select such guys from the lot you get over here. first of all you wont get guys to evaluate, and when you have someone, you will end up rejecting him.

End of Assembly Line Testing at ANZ International.

Like this to recruit 7 guys and train them to perfection, it took me one whole month. After 20 days these guys were so much confident that they used to run the line and certify the vehicles entirely on their own, without any supervision of mine. Finally I was so happy that I threw a party to them all.

Last week, the production target got doubled. I was forced to run my line in two shifts. So again I was in the need of man power. But the expectation was to run the line in two shifts, within two days, with entirely new man power in second shift!!!! You would guess it is impossible. Even I did initially. I thought that if I recruit seven more guys, and split the existing batch, and leave one fresher with one experience in every station in a shift, I would achieve the target. Again I went on a spree of recruiting technicians. By Her Grace, I got few more good guys.

One among them was Arun Kumar. He is dumb and deaf. How I happened to get him is a nice story. One my technicians approached me and told me that his brother, is vacant and has good experience as a mechanic. I immediately told him to get him to factory next day. Then he said, sir he is dumb and deaf. But he can understand everything in gestures, and can even operate a computer. Something which was highly essential in this line. But I was worried. Because as I have said testing technicians should have their senses open always. I worried for some time that I took an early decision by calling him. but there was something in me which was stopping me from saying no for this guy and I could not say no. At this time I resolved to keep quite and wait till the guy comes to factory and then think about it.

The very next day in morning, I got to see Arun. Tall and good looking, and a charming smile on his face. When santosh introduced me to him, he joined his hands to say namaskar to me. I patted his back and told santohs to make him sit in visitors room till I get some works done, and then will take his interview!!!!!

By now you must be thinking that I am mad. How can one ever interview a person who is dumb and deaf? It never flashed to me, till I entered the visitors room to call him for an interview!!!!

Then something flashed in my mind. I gestured him to come along with me to the testing line. Took him to the first station of line, where we set the brakes and align the wheels. These are highly critical operations. I called off support technician from the station and the lead technician was Santosh himself, Arun’s brother. Gestured Arun to start working with Santosh. Then what happened was beyond my imagination.

I was thinking Santosh will give instructions to Arun, on how to proceed. But I was totally wrong. Arun mixed up the operations so well, without any gestural instructions from anybody, on the very first time that, I was astounded. Completely new machines to work with, he must have never seen such machines in any workshops in this locality. But he started as if he has been doing since ages. I know you would not believe it, but it is the truth. When I, the eyewitness of this incidence could not believe it, there is no wonder if you wont believe. But truth is always the truth and prevails.

I could not resist getting him into my line. Though I had laid out requirement that my technicians should have their senses open, I immediately signed off his application, allocated a salary of five thousand, and sent him to labor contractor for registration. After two hours he joined back and started with us. I allotted him the work of brake bleeding and wheel alignment, which does not require the use of ear and mouth. Because of rest of operations do need them. But he was superb in that slot. Very soon he was a roll model for everyone. Workers from other department come and see how he works.

Arun Kumar at work.

Is this the happy ending story? Hold on. The real sap of this story begins now!!!!

In last few months, communist unions propped up in our organizations. Workers went on strike for some silly reasons twice or thrice, long back in march and april. ANZ suffered a lot due to these strikes. After this Management appointed one PRO. Mr. Suresh Kumar. A KAS appeared person, but ended up here. he has the powers to approve the appointments of all the workers.

I being a technical person, working all the time on test tracks, fields, and shop floor, was not aware of this new power or authority given to this idiot (mind you he looks like a real gentleman. In fact all idiots do). Furthermore, while I recruited Arun, this guy was on a long leave for a week.

Today he is back. He was getting pending things cleared. And the application of Arun Kumar appeared on his table for approval. People tell me that he went suddenly red and started shouting that get this idiot gopal to me right now. When I got a call from HR, I was a little surprised, that why PRO is calling me? Why would he call me? A little surprised I went to his chamber.

Then it was a usual PRO – client conversation. I was asked questions like who gave you the powers to appoint a dumb and deaf person in a sensitive work. Who gave you the authority to fix his salary? Etc.

I justified myself that he is fit to work, even though he is disabled. Told PRO to come and see how he works. But all my justifications were like a quote in kannada – washing tamarind in a river!! Well. If I am not authorized to recruit the man power, then who else is in my department? And why was I asked to set the job profiles and responsibilities for the technicians in this line? PRO never had answers to these questions. Like a pakka bureaucrat, he directed me to discontinue Arun’s services.

This happened an hour back. Shift is about to end in a couple of hours. What should I do? Still thinking. But not getting anything.

This leaves us with few more questions, which must be answered, not only by our PRO, but also by every member of our society.

Is it right if a person’s disability is put to decide his present, his fate, his life, or his future?

If the disabled is good enough to carry out some work, in fact better than anyone else, why can’t we let them do it?

If we are aspiring for a happy “society” tomorrow, where people like Arun can’t be left out, is it the physical disability of Arun or social disability of our PRO which is the obstruction?

Why a person’s trust and belief are not respected?

Why the laws and regulations of the company if a disabled person is getting a better life?

Are they supposed to rot as disabled throughout the life, upon the mercy of the society?

When shall we realize that:

This bodily appearance is not all;
The form deceives, the person is a mask;
Hid deep in man celestial powers can dwell.

I know there are disabled people who have been successful, and have been given opportunities, encouragement. I respect them all. But is the entire society moving in the same direction? It is only and only when each and everyone in the society, accepts the disabled whole heartedly, that the dream of a happy and united India can materialize into reality.
To be honest, I also feel, whether i overlooked the safety of Arun, to be a good person in his heart? Was I very keen to recruit him, and show myself up that i am among those who care for such people? because i always feel that if i was really intending to do something good to Arun, i would have been successful to retain him.
As usually, confused, and ......leaving everything at Her Feet, because:
Whatever the appearance we must bear,
Whatever our strong ills and present fate,
When nothing we can see but drift and bale,
A mighty Guidance leads us still through all....


foemina said...

Oh, Gopal, how sad for Arun; maybe these questions of yours will not stop here. The physically handicapped have rights in other parts of the world. Maybe you have the power to bring these questions to the public and start a campaign for the rights of the handicapped in your country. May the Force be with you.

Donna (Akka)

Barindranath Chaki said...

Hello Gopal,

Physical disabiity and even social disability should be conquered real and conscious endeavours of the human beings. It is our social resposbility to help the people who are with such disabilities, as far as pssible. Those who do not help are really backward in consciousness.

Barin Chaki

foemina said...

Gopal, I guess the reason this strikes me so deeply, like it does you, is because i worked for 11 years with the special needs children in the public school system. Working with these children and their parents daily gives the different perspective and gives the opportunity to make the bridge to begin the communication. In my job, I was in the daily habit of going and standing in front of a little 12 year old autistic boy, just sharing his presence, never saying anything. It was after many months of doing this that he grabbed my hand and kissed it, letting me know that the months of our contact built a connection. It is one of those gifts that I will always remember. Here is a link you might be interested in about India moving toward equal rights for disabled people:


Reader's agenda said...

Hi Gopal,
I can understand your frustration, on the way things turned for Arun and in turn your ability.

Personally, I feel that you should bring this to the notice of higher-ups in the organisation who will be able to take a call on Arun's case.

Ideally, as a supervisor, your assessment should be respected. Moreover, you opted for Arun not only because he was disable, it was because he was highly efficient in his job.

I have another observation too, if people like these (the PRO) are holding the power, how can you blame your comrades for raising the red flag? Don't you think it is the expected fallout in such a situation.

Are you not seeing red now, when your correct judgement is looked at with distrust?

Let the Mother give you the ability to endure, and the power to be Her instrument always.

Inmate of infinity said...

A very well written article by you bhai........Its too bad you had to let him go.
Maybe there is a better place where Arun was really needed.

Kaviyaa Raaj said...

Awesome article. It is so detailed and well formatted that i enjoyed reading it as well as get some new information too.

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