From Murder To Righteousness
From Murder To Righteousness
One day, a few decades ago, when I returned home from factory late in the evening, a man named Roshan was sitting waiting for me in our drawing room with his wife. Inspite of my best efforts I could not recollect the person.
Soon after I came to meet him. He touched my feet and stood with folded hands in front of me. I could not believe my eyes. Standing before me was a man who had threatened to murder me once.
My mind went back to my younger days. Soon after my graduation in Mechanical Engineering from IIT Bombay in early 1960’s. I had joined one of the most reputed Factories in Jaipur owned by one of the greatest industrialist, B. M. Birla. It was the only engineering unit in South East Asia producing ball bearings at that time.
India was on the road to industrialization after independence. Our then prime minister Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru had put a great emphasis on heavy industry and Steel plants. New units like Heavy Engineering Corporation, Heavy Electricals and five major steel plants had been commissioned with foreign aid. Many more engineering units were coming up and the old ones were being modernized. However along with this, as usually happens, the Labour Unions were getting very strong and Hartals and Gheraos were the order of the day.
The Indian Labour had been oppressed for a long time before. The wages were poor and the workers had been exploited. It seemed to be their turn to react with a vengeance.
Being unaware of all these negative developments, many young engineers like me, having the industrialization of our country in mind, had chosen Manufacturing instead of taking alternative assignments in Design Offices or Sales etc.
Soon after joining I had to face a lot of difficulties to establish myself amidst the skilled workers who would not respect you and consider a new engineer nothing in comparison to their skills. However, teaching them new techniques with the help of their practical skill I could win over their confidence and respect in a very short time. I was able to establish the desired discipline in a rowdy environment.
As I said earlier, Labour Unions were very strong in those days. Workers would refuse to work on flimsy grounds. Such workers were protected by the Unions. There used to be many cases of manhandling of supervisors and engineers instigated by the Union Leaders. At times they would pressurize the management to recruit the workers of their choice.
Things were working smoothly in my Unit. Workers were very cooperative and were giving the desired productivity and the management was very satisfied.
One day the Labour department employed a worker in my Unit without my knowledge and interview. He had been promoted by a Union leader. I agreed to give him a chance.
From day one I found the man (Roshan) very indifferent to his duty, would not work and instigate others not to work. Inspite of my advising him many times he would not improve. Thereafter I reprimanded him a couple of times, in presence of other workers, telling him to mind his duties and stop loitering. Though calm, yet I could see a rebellious attitude on his face.
Scooters were not very prevalent in those days. Having joined a year or two earlier, the mode of transportation for most of us was the bicycle.
I vividly remember, it was the month of June. The Sun was at its peak and it was one of the hottest days of summer. After completing my duties I was returning home on my bicycle, engrossed in my thoughts. The road was empty in the scorching sun. Suddenly a man overtook me on his bicycle from behind, and turned his bicycle to face me. I had to stop. He showed me a big knife which he had in his hand, threatened me with dire consequences if ever I reprimanded him on the shop floor. Before I could react, he immediately turned and left. No doubt I was stunned. It was Roshan. He had threatened to silence me.
Reaching home, I pondered why these young men on the thresh hold of their career would behave like criminals. Roshan had trained in ITI and instead of concentrating in his professional activity he had landed in the hands of unscrupulous elements who were trying to use him to spread chaos. But I was determined to bring a stop to this behavior lest it spreads and spoils the peaceful environment in the Workplace.
Next day when I reached my office, I found a very hostile atmosphere. Roshan wearing black goggles was moving like a tiger on the shop floor. I could see a mixed feeling on the worker's faces. Perhaps he had shared with them the “heroic” deed he had performed the day before.
After a while, I went to the Personnel Department and narrated the whole story to the Labour Officer. He listened and felt sorry that Roshan was recruited without a proper background check. He assured me of proper action. He immediately picked up the phone and talked to Security.
Within an hour I saw the Security Officer coming to my office accompanied with two police personnel. There was a pin drop silence on the shop floor. Roshan was summoned to my office.
Seeing the police, his arrogance vanished and he fell flat on my feet. I lifted him up. He stood there with folded hands asking for excuse and promising that he will never commit such a blunder again in his life. He will concentrate on his job and that he will never fall in the hands of such unscrupulous elements again. He begged to be excused and be given one chance.
I advised him to concentrate on his career. He should work hard and be proud to his parents who have done so much for him. He begged to be excused repeatedly.
Thereupon I requested the security officer to leave him with a warning and not proceed with any criminal charges against him as that would have ruined the career of this young man. I apprised the Labour Officer about it and requested to remove him from factory rolls.
Roshan was let go. I never knew whether he would follow the path of righteousness as promised or would react with a vengeance.
But that day I was overwhelmed after seeing him in my home after almost twenty-five years with his wife. He was full of gratitude. I felt better seeing this young man, well established with his small workshop catering to the needs of the industry with spare parts and happily married.
Righteousness had triumphed over Vengeance.