From classroom to career: The transition from school to the work world

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Macalay’s educational system was simply to produce clerks to help the British Indian administration’, the statement might be true from a larger Indian perspective. But in my case, viewed from a narrow angle, even after the British quit India in the year 1947, it was handy, more than adequate and served my purpose of getting a job of a telephone operator, in the year 1975; but I was not a clerk, was I?

I finished the eleventh standard, the school final and passed the public exam with 473 marks out of 500.I was school second. But I stood district first by scoring 80 % in Tamil which brought laurels to the school.

After finishing my schooling, I felt emptiness, because I was wallowing in poverty. What I did immediately was to register my name in the employment office. Then I waited for six months, doing some petty works. Then I suddenly stumbled upon a vernacular newspaper in which the department of telecom had called for applications from the eligible candidates for the recruitment of telephone operators.

I could not believe my eyes, because, the required qualification for the post was SSLC, with a percentage of above 75 %.Luckily I had got 78.3 %.The very next day I applied for the post. After waiting for three gruelling months, I got the interview card from the department of telecom. The interview was at Cuddalore.

Then the D’ day came. After verifying my mark sheet and transfer certificate, I was ushered into a room and was left alone.There was a table and a chair.A telephone was on the table. I was sweating profusely. I saw the telephone very closely for the first time in my life. When the telephone rang up I started shivering. When I lifted the telephone, I was trembling.I did not even know how to use a telephone.I had the receiver nearby my mouth and the mouthpiece at my ear.I did not hear anything, but I could hear somebody else speaking over the phone.Somehow I managed to have the receiver at my ear.

The voice at the other end called out my name and asked me to write some words as dictated by him over phone.The first word was telephone’, the second one anaivari’ the name of my native village, the third one was cuddalore’.That’s all I could recall. I think that I had managed to write a few words correctly.

When I received my appointment order, my joy knew no bounds. Now I have completed more than 25 years of service in the telephone department. In the beginning,I had to book the trunk calls, writing the telephone numbers as told by the subscribers over phone.I had to repeat the telephone numbers and write the name of the stations as told by them using code words, for example MS for Madras, BY for Bombay, VLU for Villupuram, CDL for Cuddalore and so on.

Now I am greatful to Macaulay because, eventhough his system of education was largely meant for producing a clerk, it was more than handy as far as I am concerned for getting myself recruited as a telephone operator and then rendering my service as a telephone operator till recently.

Now my working environment has changed. I had to book no more trunk calls because trunk exchanges have been closed some six or seven years ago and all exchanges have been digitalized. Now I am dealing with mobile phone subscribers allotting mobile numbers, selling SIM cards, collecting mobile phone bills, but still the Macaulay’s system of education proves useful and more than handy as far as my working environment is concerned.


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