Education and skill development are very potent instruments of sociopolitical and economic transformation. Nelson Mandela, the great African leader once said “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” How aptly it applies in the case of my brother?
After working in Iran and Yemen for a few years, the surgeon-gynaecologist duo of my brother and his wife, returned to India in mid 1980s. They chose Ghaziabad, a UP town in Delhi NCR region for their private practice. Having two little daughters and a nascent medical practice, they needed workers; maid, cook, caretaker, driver and the other para medical staff.
My brother’s wife belonged to a renowned Punjabi family of Calcutta (now Kolkata). Her mother, a resourceful lady, ensured that there was never any shortage of staff (mostly Bengali women) in her daughter’s house and clinic, both co located. These raw inexperienced girls could be moulded to work in any field with proper guidance.
A tough task master, my brother trained most of these girls to become proficient in general patient care. His wife did the same her own way for the special needs as gynecologist . Our mother took on the task to impart household training including Punjabi cooking. My brother and his wife, over time, when the need arose, also employed local youth, boys and girls, from the nearby villages.
Many such workers have come and left during last 37 years after working for varying durations. Becoming proficient in routine medical care, a dozen odd started their own medical practice, with or without formal degree, in the nearby villages. Some bought their own taxis. A few got into the property line and even dhaba business. Close to hundred such workers including nurses have been directly empowered during these years.
Two Bengali girls who came at a very young age, however, stand apart prominently. Aparna Mondal, a teenage girl and Meena Giri, barely out of her teens, carved for themselves a niche in my brother’s household and the clinic respectively. Never wary or shy of doing any work, no matter how menial, they not only learnt multiple skills but also brought their siblings and other relatives from Bengal. My brother and his wife , in turn, got a trusted work force.
Aparna, the household girl brought her two sisters and brother from Bardhman. The sisters learnt the basic patient care, got nurses degree and are now accomplished qualified nurses. Two of the three sisters married local UP boys, have kids and are well settled. Her brother opened a tea stall in the clinic premises and his wife sits at the Reception (this couple along with two children lives in my house, a walking distance from that of my brother).
Meena from Midnapore worked in the nursing home, learnt driving, got married and eventually obtained the Pharmacist diploma. She now runs the chemist shop in the clinic in partnership with my brother. Over the next few years, more than half a dozen of her cousins came from her hometown. They all ventured out as proficient nurses in other clinics and hospitals after working in my brother’s nursing home. Her brother, now married, also joined her and works as male nurse cum driver cum general handyman.
This ‘ mini Bengal’ with two dozen Bengalis is, in fact, like little India; place of opportunities for
people of all religions, regions, communities and languages. Getting empowered in their small establishment, nay a modern temple, these workers have attained economic independence. There are Christian nurses from Kerala, Dalit para medical staff, local Muslim youth, Hindu workers – all of whom through the sheer dint of hard work acquired multiple skills; even a small orphaned Sikh boy adopted by a staff member getting nurtured.
When we eat there, no-one knows who made the Biryani or fish curry, Halwa or Kheer (both Indian desserts), tea or coffee or any other dish. This so called ‘ mini Bengal’ offering right opportunities for the diligent workers possesses the spirit of real India where people with diverse backgrounds live with harmony and camaraderie.
क़ायम है दुनिया बावजूद इतने फ़सादों के,
शुक्र है इंसानियत तेरी कोई क़ौम नहीं होती I
This Urdu couplet sums up well this mini Bengal.
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