Sunday, January 4, 2009

The PSU religion

PSUs built the nation in their own way...

I was born and brought up in Bhopal. Rather, it would be more appropriate to say that I was brought up in that part of Bhopal, which was owned by Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL). My dad was employed in BHEL’s Bhopal facility since 1960 and retired from service in 2004. Of whatever I’m today, I owe immensely to my upbringing within the BHEL colony.

Not many, but for those who have lived in a Public Sector Unit (PSU) colony, life can sensitise that how uniquely disparate life can be, as compared otherwise. Since the very beginning, like any other public sector enterprise, in BHEL too, employees always came from myriad socio-economic and educational backgrounds and from all corners of the country. But irrespective of the socio-economic and cultural differences, there was this unique commonality for most – a significantly large portion of them came out of their native land and were here for an occupation, which would last a lifetime (in most cases). Both these facts were compelling enough to incubate a deep sense of community, which went a long way to shape common mind space. And this was most evident particularly with respect to the next generation, for everyone of that generation had almost the same set of beliefs, thoughts and lifestyles. And this commonality got further cemented with almost similar education, both within the family and schools – all culminating to just one culture and one religion and that was the BHEL culture and the BHEL religion.

It might sound terribly strange today but never during my formative years, nor me neither any of my friends, who were growing together, could distinguish anyone of us as a Bengali, Tamil, Malayali or Punjabi. For us, even the lines of religion too stood completely blurred, as we all shared common emotions, common thoughts and beliefs. Not just us, even for our parents there was one common passion and one religion – and that was to provide the best of upbringing and education to their children. More than the children, it was every parent who competed amongst each other to see to it that their wards were the best performers not just with respect to academic performances, but also in each and everything to do with sports and extra-curricular activities. Needless to state, that with so much in common, there was no time for the community to deliberate upon the uncommonness and it was fairly evident particularly during every festival as it was a community festival, celebrated with equal excitement and fervour. It was when I came out of this PSU setup that I realised that things were so different in other parts of India. Apparently, the PSUs have had to face a lot of criticism with respect to their organisational efficiencies and effectiveness, but this one aspect of community living in harmony is something which stands unique to them. PSUs were conceptualised with the very purpose of nation building, and they have done justice to it in their own ways, especially in a country which is otherwise ripe with all kinds of region, caste, class and religion based conflicts. In today's context, when things are mostly turning for worse than better in terms of increasing prominence that is being given to caste, creed, religion and region which is spreading identity politics like wild fire, the PSU townships stand like oasis of harmony which might not get reflected in the prices of their shares but if India is much more than what the Sensex reflects, then their contribution is immense because they have achieved what the nation is yet to... harmony.


1 comment:

  1. Hi,

    I completely agree with your views and also can relate to the same. I am part of a similar PSU community built in and around Fertilizer Corporation of India (FCI), Sindri- a small town in Chotanagpur Plateau (Jharkhand; earlier in Bihar). Surprisingly, the bondings developed during my 18 years at Sindri are so strong that I love talking and associating to the same given an opportunity. Infact given a chance, I try to dig out the where abouts of my friends/neighbours/at times neighbours' neighbours. And when I come across someone from Sindri even now, after 11 years I have come out of that place, it is complete flashback. As if I have touched Sindri and come back! It has been around 7-8 years, FCI was closed down and the town was given to CRPF. I visited Sindri around an year back and found nothing is left there as beore.Still!! In my nostalgia, I visited the remains of my house/my friends house/our play ground/ the Puja ground/ my tution teacher's house/ the small railway station and lastly my school. All this will always reamin with me for ever!!