Archive for February, 2009


Why Sulochana cannot go back home

On November 26, 2008, Sulochana Lokhande and her husband were waiting for a train at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus [Images] in Mumbai [Images]. They had come to the city four days ago for a family function. The couple was to board a train to Gulbarga in Karnataka, from where they would change trains to take them home to Afzalpur.

Sulochana is 50 and has lived her entire life in Afzalpur. Thirty years ago she married a distant relative from the same town who worked as a tailor. The night of 26/11 drastically changed the regular course of their quiet and simple lives. For three months now, she has been at the JJ Hospital in south-central Mumbai and does not know when she can go back home.

On that fateful night, Sulochana and her husband were waiting at the crowded platform. It was 9 pm. Just after 9.30 pm, two murderers, later identified as Ajmal Amir Kasab [Images] and Abu Dera Ismael Khan, started firing indiscriminately with automatic weapons at the helpless passengers waiting to board their trains.

Fiftynine people died and hundreds were injured. Sulochana’s left hand was shattered and her husband was shot in the leg. Passersby and fellow passengers took the injured to the St George’s Hospital nearby. Those with serious injuries were shifted to the JJ Hospital.

At the hospital, Sulochana was admitted to special ward 35. Since her husband wasn’t badly hurt, he recovered quickly and has since returned home. Not that he wanted to desert his wife, but since his aged parents were alone in the village, he was compelled to return and look after them.

The couple does not have any children which makes it even more difficult for them.

“If I had had children this is the time they would have made a difference to me, they would have been here to help me. There is no one to look after my very old in-laws. They are totally helpless. They need someone for every little need of theirs. My husband has to look after them,” says Sulochana, weeping on the hospital bed.

Sulochana’s old mother has travelled all the way from Afzalpur to look after her daughter.

The government gave Sulochana a cheque for 50,000 as compensation which her husband has deposited in her account in their village. But the money has been of no use so far because the bank refused to release the amount till she returns home.

Meanwhile, in Mumbai, the hospital will not discharge her till her arm has healed completely. She has already had four surgeries and skin grafting procedures. Three months after the tragedy, her left hand is plastered with steel rods projecting out.

Her warm hands quiver as she grasped mine. “I have never been inside a hospital before. I have never needed to go to a hospital before. Why did this happen? Why am I in this strange city surrounded by strangers? I have been here for three months now. When will they let me go?”

She understands that in her village there is no hospital that can perform the complicated surgeries done here. But what she cannot understand is why God allowed this to happen to her.

The knowledge that nine terrorists have been killed and one is in police custody does not make it any better. She does not want revenge; all she wants is to go home and look after her in-laws and husband.

“My place is there, what am I doing here? How long do you think I have to remain here?

What makes their situation even more difficult is their uncertainty and lack of confidence of the world outside their village. The couple is so unsure that even if her husband wants to visit her, he lacks the confidence to make the journey on his own. Neither does he know how he will bring his wife home after she is discharged.

Sulochana is the only victim of the 26/11 attacks who remains at the J J Hospital. All the others have gone home.

The special ward set up for the victims has been discontinued, and she has been shifted to the women’s orthopaedic ward on the second floor.

As I take my leave, she clasps both her hands with great difficulty in a ‘namaste’. While every minute as she lies there looking at the fans which do not spin, there is only one thought that revolves in her mind — ‘Why did this happen?’


A Satyam employee writes, from the heart

At a time when almost 90 per cent of my Satyam friends are cribbing about the fraud and betrayal by (former Satyam chairman) B Ramalinga Raju, I have a slightly different opinion.

I know it is bold of me to write this in black and white, but this comes straight from my heart, and experience.

Let me start by quoting an example from 2006. Most of my friends were unemployed, with 50-60 per cent plus marks, with a B.Tech degree from an average university, and madly hunting for a job. Whether people accept it today or not, the truth is that Satyam was the ONLY saviour and the only mass recruiter who was ready to accept students who had backlog. It also did not put a very strict ‘minimum-marks’ criterion.

And this was true not only for my small college in Lucknow, but also many such colleges across India.

Satyam is the fourth-largest IT company in India. Looking at India’s population and the rising unemployment, I really want to thank Raju for giving some 54,000 Indians jobs at least for all these years.

He was the reason for the revival of confidence and the reason for the bread-and-butter for many a family.

Also, Satyam training was renowned all over India. The STC (Satyam Training Centre) created numerous love stories and unexpected rekindling of a youthful environment where girls and boys were more independent than in their colleges.

I remember most of my Satyam friends felt that they made better friends during Satyam’s three-to-six month training than they did in the four years of studying B.Tech.

Unfortunately people forget to thank God in sad times. I know what Raju did is deplorable, and unpardonable. He should have treated the business more formally, and not dealt with it like it was his family affair.

He should have straightened up at least a couple of years ago. Why did he hire so many non-potential candidates and keep them on the bench? When were the managers last told that if they don’t work hard, they will lose their job? Business cannot be run in such a lousy fashion.

I have a lot of friends at Satyam, both male and female. Moreover I network a lot and thus am fairly well clued into what is happening at the company.

I have seen how people tailgate to Satyam, how they give their cards to others to be swiped on their behalf, how female employees have gone home sharp at 6 p.m., irrespective of when they landed at the office. . ., how employees sit at home for months at a stretch, prepare for all kind of post-graduate entrance exams and still enjoy a full month’s pay, how often they went for movies at local theatres at office hours, how often employees went to office just to sign on registers in the mornings and the evenings, how often they faked their health certificates, how often they put unlimited fake medical and house rental bills. . .

How can we blame just one man when EACH AND EVERY person was disloyal? How can we exclude the auditors like PricewaterhouseCoopers? How can we exclude the then board of directors who tried to wash their hands off of the whole affair?

How can we exclude banks who gave hefty loans without true verification? How can we exclude the Andhra Pradesh chief minister who was lenient towards Raju ahd his fellow businessmen? How can we exclude the managers who were never able to trace which bench employee under him had been away from office and for how long?

Yet, how can people forget this is the same man whose ideas and potentials gave them an identity for the past several years? How many couples found the right match at an IT industry, courtesy Satyam, and how many Andhra farmers benefited from their huge investments in Satyam shares.

How can people forget that Satyam launched its offices right at the doorsteps of a residential colony, where people could simply walk to work?

The most gruesome experience that I had was when a Satyam tag wearing person was waiting to attend an interview and I overheard him saying that he was in a business meeting at the MyHome Satyam office when he was sitting right in front of me in a totally different company (little knowing that I too was a Satyam employee).

When employees themselves show such a lousy attitude and don’t care a damn for the brand they carry around their neck, how can they expect others to care?

I am not saying that ALL Satyam employees are bad. I have known very dedicated people too, but my point is simple: before pointing fingers at others, introspect a bit. There are thousands of people who have completed certifications at the cost of Satyam, got trained at Satyam, got better jobs because of Satyam. . .

What Raju did was to keep the business of Satyam going at any cost. I see a smart man in him when he realised that it would be better to accept his mistake than be caught and tried under American laws.

I see a selfish father in him too that he put a lot at stake for Maytas. However, he resigned with dignity: it does take courage to accept your mistake in public.

But one cannot deny that he did create employment, which led to many others benefiting too: the tiffinwallahs, the transport people, those who rented their houses, etc.

Today Satyamites call Raju a fraud.

Well, the true and loyal Satyamites surely have all the reasons to call him a fraud. But the rest, who sucked every rupee out of Satyam without doing any value-addition, need to ask themselves: who is the bigger fraud?

February 2009
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