= * = * Education and Employment* = * =
In the nearest high school the teachers were mostly locals. Every year, very few, one or two students could pass the board examination. But there were also some years when not even a single student could pass and that would be the worst time for every student because for the next few days, the Headmaster, who used to perambulate with a cane would beat any student who would come into his field of vision, it did not matter if the student had broken any rule or not.
The village had its own supply for all kinds of expertise – from mending shoes to performing religious rituals. Distance of the nearest town was nearly two kilometers; one had to walk to the town to take a bus or a tram to travel to the city. During monsoon every single road remained submerged in water for few weeks.
There was a packaging company called Metal Box, few kilometers away, where many people from the village were employed as unskilled workers. It was the dream of many boys to work for that company when they would grow up because the workers of Metal Box enjoyed a good standard of living. Every year before the Durga Puja festival the workers’ union called on strike for bonus issue and the movement always turned ugly. As part of their protest the workers would ‘gherao’ few management staffs and demanded assurance to fulfill their demands and someone from the office had to call the police to rescue those stranded management staffs who had been sweating under the scorching sun; one year, they ‘gheraoed’ a very senior manager and few workers severed all the phone lines so that nobody from the office could call the police, they closed all the gates so that nobody could leave the factory premise and walk to the nearest police station and the manager remained stranded under the scorching sun for hours whereas the workers who had ‘gheraoed’ him moved under a shade at regular intervals; the besiege ended when the manager fainted and he was rushed to the nearest hospital. The following year the factory was shifted to another state where labor unrest was within the limit of tolerance.
[To be continued]