” Yours Reverentially – To my Father in Lord’s Abode ” – June 12, 2016.
For every distinguished and famous person whose virtues are sung and lauded in public, there remain 1000s of the same ilk who remain(ed) unsung and unnoticed. They neither flaunted their prosperity nor touted their famed deeds in excessive or unrestrained manner. Economic gap is the ‘culprit’ (and the main reason) that is bandied about in every forum, meeting, and convention – local, regional, and international today. That my father belongs in the latter category is saying the obvious. He passed away a couple of decades ago at the age of 71. He began his career a little less than a decade before India’s Independence and retired in early 1980s. If it is the mobile revolution and the millennials challenging the growth of every household now, it was the period of our First industrial revolution , and the freedom inspired populace that challenged our growth then.
Here is placing the 5 critical traits that he possessed which stood him in good stead in his life :
1. Well known in his family and friends’ circles for his principled stand on issues; discipline at home and at work; consistency in actions; and fairness in dealing with peers and subordinates – he made his mark during service and gained honors at his farewell (upon superannuation) as a person defending the cause of “excellence at work”, the words his chief showered on him with.
2. He will always attempt new things with preparation in his popular ” Wednesday assembly ” in office for friendly ends on departmental issues, something which was the first of its kind in his section in the 1950s and 1960s. Effective work put in by his people will always clock more than 125% bringing the best return in terms of efficiency and repute on a ‘time study’ if anyone cared to carry out then.
3. He had great respect for independent abilities and he always pushed enthusiasm and right attitude over skills in the strong belief that skills can always be acquired anytime at work which helped him create an effective workable structure at work and in the family. “No loosy-goosy operations” – his often repeated words.
4. Commonsense and intuition for finding solutions to problems were his major tools while discussing problem and developing solutions. He will toss his ideas/views on the table and let others come out with theirs too. Then he will stitch all the pieces together and create a visible plan of action. When his section wanted to install an air-conditioner in the room, he first tried to get incremental improvements through dampened window screens; erecting shades outside the wall; planting a row of trees along the boundary walls of the compound – all before committing to the air-conditioner installation. These efforts helped cool the room nevertheless. His ideas to stagger decisions without affecting the work performance of people served to enhance his image among the people besides the cost savings it accomplished.
5. He never favored punishment to discipline his children even when he knew that a couple of his children (me included) will react putting him to shame in ways one cannot imagine. He’ll rather speak to the erring child and instruct him/her to understand how he/she could have attempted the task in a rightful and easy way. When I read today of children engaged in parent shaming on Social Media and parents feeling shocked and disgusted, I can only admire his foresight besides the conviction that children will become better by polite treatment. At work, to anyone who comes to him saying that the many attempts he made to get the railway signal function proved only futile, he’ll politely respond, ” give it another try, you may succeed”. There have been more occasions of his people coming out successfuly with joy after that than there were failures. We term it ‘perseverance’ in management parlance today. He had to wear the many hats of a mentor, an officer, a trainer, a reformer at different times as needed to accomplish his task(s). All this, while he was in the ‘line’ position with little power or authority.
The many qualities I shared with my father and that make me proud despite the generational shifts in social relationships, economic independence, technological advancements, spiritual solace that have diffused through the society shrouding and mystifying at the same time the behavior and attitude of people today are as concerning as they are coincidental.
1. He stood highly principled on issues even at the risk of losing fortunes; So did I … till now
2. He always aimed at perfection in action, so he will attain excellence for sure; So did I … till now
3. He was a stickler for timely completion of tasks, punctuality, and transparency; So have I been … till now
4. He was an independent operator, always willing to support anyone who comes with a clear and ‘specific’ work plan or agenda; So am I … till now
5. He always expressed his views candidly and openly whether for or against; So did I … till now
6. He considered himself rich because he did not borrow anything from anyone, anytime, anywhere; So did I … till now
Like father, like son; Yes and No; … … There are many differences between us that set us apart in a way that makes each of us “unique”. Let me reserve that for another occasion …
His biggest and singular contribution at work was to ensure the integrity of the systems in practice, a characteristic that is on the decline and is almost invisible in this new age.
He conducted himself so well that we, children, learnt more by observing him and his actions than listening to him. Right through his life ‘he lived within his means’ knowing clearly where the line needs to be drawn. We stand proud of his upbringing because he and my mom did their best they could with what little (or more ?) they knew about raising children of an average middle-class family in the 1950s and 1960s. It was a parenting challenge to bring up 4 sons and 2 daughters with a work schedule requiring odd hours of effort.
” Thank you , Dad ”
” Dieu avec nous ”
Sunday, June 12, 2016 – 12. 59 p.m. (IST)
Tidbit : ” Father is one who endures childbirth without an anaesthetic “.