Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Anndata - A Token of Love for Beloved Mess Workers

The Challenge: Fundraiser for Mess Workers at my Engineering Institute

Nobody likes the mess food while studying in the college. However, it’s only after you leave your college you realize the importance of mess food. Yellow Dal is a Universal Truth across the country, no matter which college you are studying in. Be it Engineering, MBA, or Medicine, you will rarely find someone praising the mess food.

However, once you have left your college, mess food always reminds you of your good old days. But did you ever think about those who cooked your food?

Let me tell you a story.

“It was the farewell party of our seniors. Everybody was thanking their professors, friends, and lab technicians. Then we saw one of our seniors on the stage asking everyone to pay attention. He was standing with two mess workers. We all thought they were there to help with some work to be done. However, the senior on the stage started his ‘Thanks Note’ by honoring those two mess workers. They had been serving the Institute since its inception. They were the unsung heroes of our institute.

After a couple of month’s soul-searching, we realized (a group of three friends) that these mess workers were not entitled to any post retirement benefits. Although we were living in 2004 yet their salaries were still stuck in the 1980s. An old mess worker died and his little kid had to drop out of the school. Just the other day, he had asked my friend to give him a CD of new songs for his son. We couldn’t do anything. A life was lost, that too of someone who had fed us for four long years.

We decided to take up this challenge and formulated a plan to facilitate a centralized funding scheme for them. Simple mathematics it was. 20 rupees from every student, 1200 students in the institute meant INR 288, 000 per annum.

Mathematics is simple; making things work when Sarkari Babus are involved is difficult. Old school guys love sticking to conventional stuff. They asked us to go to the Board Of Governors, get the proposal approved from them, and then they would think about it.

But we didn’t have to work hard. Some of our Professors understood the problem these mess workers were facing. After a round of discussions and heated arguments with our babus, we were able to incorporate the new rule in Institution’s Constitution. The practice of contributing INR 20 for Mess Worker Welfare Fund started from the very next semester.

In Indian context, the one who feeds you is called ‘Anndaata’ and is considered an incarnation of God. We felt great after we got the job done. It was a real challenge that we faced because helping those who fed was not a heroic job we did but it was our duty. 

It’s been 5 long years since this happened and even today we feel proud that we did something for those who remain Unsung Heroes of our society.

I blogged about this incident in September'09 (Ignore Poor Writing Style)

Relishing the Challenge: It was an amazing experience writing for the AIA and Relish the Challenge Campaigns well conducted by Creativeland Asia. I am grateful that I was given a chance to be a part of both these campaigns. I would like to thank Cinthol and CLA both for giving me this opportunity. And special thanks to Rahul for being extremely supportive throughout the campaign(s).

This post is my eighth entry for Cinthol’s Relishing the Challenge Campaign

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