I am out of the Y.T. Institute of Engineering and Technology, Karjat, near Mumbai (YTIET for short).
And thus, out of any job, once again.
That way, at YTIET, things were going pretty smoothly for me. This semester, I was expected to teach a course on Advanced Stress Analysis to ME (Mech. Engg.) students. I had also begun work on guiding a couple of students of ME in Mech. Engg. Actually, the college had even put up a new, comfortably big, and airy cabin for me—by installing a partition in a much bigger room, in our department.
However, surprisingly, no official email ID or Internet connections were provided to me. These were, in a way, more important to me. They were urgently necessary so that I, together with my ME student, could have done the necessary literature search, and used the affiliation with YTIET, to submit the abstract of our planned paper to an upcoming international conference in time.
And, assigning official email IDs is such a routine thing.
My HoD had formally forwarded my request, and informally made enquiries through peons several times over, but to no effect. Finally, my HoD sent a Lab Assistant to the IT services office of the college, and then, we were advised that I had to personally go and seek permission from “HR” before an email ID for me could be set up.
There also were delays in setting up a bank account, in my case—as pointed out by other professors. They, too, had advised me to go and check with the HR.
Finally, with the new semester actually getting running, there were quite a few email messages that were routed to the faculty members only via the internal official email groups. Since I didn’t have an ID, they never reached me.
So, on August 8th, I went to the HR department, and generally asked for an explanation about the lack of provision of an email ID. I received replies from the junior-most HR folks that were, at best, say, indifferent. They simply didn’t say anything about when the email ID would be provided. As to the back account, it was when I brought up the matter that they asked me whether I had submitted a set of the copies of my degree certificates, also to their accounts department—which, physically, is just downstairs. Note, by that time, I had already submitted three sets of all my documents to various departments in the same building. In fact, I had submitted my first complete set to these very same HR ladies, right in the first/second week of July. Later on, in the third week of July, when the same ladies had asked me for one more set, since I did not have any additional Xerox sets ready with me, I had borrowed my file from these same HR people, took a flight downstairs, got five copies made at the Xerox machines right there (in the same building) within 10 minutes, came back, handed over my file to them (from which these Xerox copies were made), and then, even enquired them if by any chance any more sets were needed now that I had these extra sets in hand. The answer, then, was a plain “no.” At no point of time in six weeks had they (or anyone else) ever advised me to submit an extra set also to their accounts department. And, still, now, they felt free to ask me if I had submitted an additional set (in all, it would have been the fourth set) to one of the offices just downstairs!
Naturally, I got angry with them. As far as is possible, you should not make even a student to run from the pillar to the post, first asking him to get just a single Xerox set, and then yet another set again later, and then, one more set yet again, whenever a whim to do so descends on you. You should not. Not even for a student. And, to a Full Professor like me, when he has already submitted three sets, you must not.
So I asked them, angrily, if they could not simply get another set of Xerox copies made from the file which anyway was with them, and forward it to the different departments in their office as necessary?
… Yes, angry, I sure was, but I was not as angry as I otherwise have been in many other places of work (while still keeping my job, both in the US and in India, both in industry and in academia).
But the (Marathi word that is favorite of newspapers like “SakaaL”) “taruNaai” these days does seem to be different.
The above incident led to a more senior guy from HR, one Mr. Mayur Kurade, immediately sending messages through three different peons to me, to the effect that I should go and see him, that afternoon. (Just after the above incident, I had stepped out for lunch.)
When I went to see him, apparently, Mr. Kurade was angry, too. And, more. Smug. He seemed to have made up his mind to show me who wielded the real power. That led to an argument. … Among the many other funny things he said, he had asked me to write an email to the chairman about it. I had taken down the chairman’s email ID, but had added, plainly, that I may not write directly to the Chairman for such a simple thing. Not so soon, anyway. All this happened on August 8th. Apparently, the same day, Mr. Kurade himself wrote an email to the Chairman.
The net result was that, to the apparent astonishment of all, including my academic colleagues and superiors, on the late evening of August 10th, I was asked to stop going to college by the Chairman of this group of institutions. (August 9th was the Id holiday.)
A decision like this was communicated to me late on the evening of August 10th, by a phone call—neither an email nor a letter. It was communicated not by my HoD, nor the Acting Principal, nor the Campus Director (who is Chairmain’s younger brother), nor the Chairman himself, but by an HR manager—not Mr. Kurade, but someone other than him, someone who is a bit more senior to him—one Mr. Ramakant Tare. Mr. Tare, it turned out, had no idea as to exactly what had transpired with Mr. Kurade and the more junior ladies in the HR on August 8th. (On that afternoon, he had gone out of campus for some work—else, he would have been the first person I would have gone to ask about my email IDs.)
Now, my receiving this call of termination of my services happened to be the late evening of the same day (August 10th) on which, right in the morning, we had an inaugural function for welcoming the ME students this year. I was very much a part of the proceedings of that function in the morning and afternoon. Indeed, along with all the other professors teaching the ME programs, I was even officially introduced to the new students in the auditorium, mentioning the course that I will be teaching them.
BTW, the college also got its new Principal on the morning of the same day (August 10th). Indeed, I was asked to accompany all the HoDs at the time that the new Principal officially took charge. I thus was the only non-HoD person present for the occasion; it probably was a gesture of respect given to my seniority by my academic colleagues and superiors.
Actually, in the afternoon of August 10th, I even had a lunch with all the HoDs of this college. Though the inaugural function served snacks, they had bought tiffins from home as usual, and decided to have lunch together in my HoD’s cabin. As I dropped by in his room for something else, I was immediately called over by them to join them for lunch—nay, they insisted upon it. I even narrated the HR incident to tell, and they laughed at it, mentioning someone from the Admin side (no longer with them) with whom I probably would have had daily fights. Some of them even expressed satisfaction that I had taken the HR to the task over their failure to provide such simple things. The atmosphere, there, in the afternoon of August 10th was, thus, as usual: informal, friendly, and perhaps also a bit respectful.
Thus, I believe, there very probably was not even a verbal hint let alone any more persistent form of communication about this decision being conveyed in advance to any of my superiors—a decision that already had been taken, and a decision that was unknown even to the HoDs, right until the evening of August 10th. In fact, the decision was not known even to a Principal of an adjacent engineering college belonging to the same group of institutions. (The group has three engineering colleges, all near Karjat.) I called him late at night of August 10th to keep him informed of the decision; he too was completely taken in by surprise.
Clearly, the HR people in the know (i.e., mainly, Mr. Mayur Kurade) had not bothered to let any of the HoDs or principals know in advance—else they could have at least prevented the embarrassment of having me in the inaugural function on the same day that I would be fired!
Alright… There still are a few remaining things that I would like to note before closing. First, right the next working day (i.e. on Monday, August 12th), they did pay me my salary up to that date in full, and also immediately issued me my relieving certificate. They can be super-efficient when the need to do so arises. Second, the more senior HR/Admin person (i.e. Mr. Ramakant Tare) listened to “my side” (i.e. what all I knew) completely, and after that, his expressions changed visibly. He seemed genuinely regretful about the whole thing—and, as is usual in such instances, expressing his helplessness. Third, I did have some email communication with the Chairman later on (i.e. after August 12th).
All in all, I am happy to note that I have come out of that place—I mean, the SES group of institutions. Not necessarily Karjat, though!
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(BTW, Mr. Kurade has an MBA from an institute belonging to the DY Patil group. He also carries a LinkedIn Recommendation (LOL!) from a British manager. As to the Chairman: While in YTIET, I had come to know that he happens to be some 3–4 years junior to me by age. Later on, I gathered from his (the then existing) LinkedIn profile that this guy did his education (“Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (M.B.B.S.), Post Graduate In Radiology, Medicine Grade: First”) from “Modern High-School, Pune.”)
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Obviously, I am on the lookout for a suitable job. I also have a couple of more updates to make at this blog, may be right today. All my updates were pending because I was busy moving all my stuff (as you know, mainly the books) back to Pune. I am done with it now.
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A Song I Like:
(Marathi) “naa naa naa naa, naa naa naa naa, naahee naahee naahee ga_,
ho… aataa punhaa, majasi yeNe naahi ga_…”
Music: Manas Mukherjee
Singer: Usha Mangeshkar
Lyrics: Shanta Shelke