I had only one meeting with Dr. Kurien

- Neela Gupta

I remember the time in 1979 when I had applied for the post of a librarian in NDDB.

I was a fresh graduate with some months of experience in Librarianship.

I was called for an interview and there was Dr. Pilkhane and two other gentle men on the interview panel.

The other 6-7 candidates were all much more experienced and a couple of them had post graduate degree in library science.

So I saw little chance for me to get selected but I wanted to experience giving an interview so I stayed on though I did think of getting out of the waiting hall.

The interview was over and I returned to Baroda where I lived. I had no hope so I forgot about it and continued with my daily wages job at IPCL.

After a week or so I was called again and when I reached NDDB I was told to meet Dr. Kurien.

I knew vaguely that he was the chairman but it didn’t mean anything much to me. I was so naive at that time.

I went in his room. He asked me few questions about my upbringing and education etc. I was very relaxed because I had told myself that I am not going to expect anything here.

Dr. Kurien asked me that how come even though I was a Gujarati and I studied throughout in Gujarati medium yet my English was so good?

I felt a bit kind of insulted and I told him that why do you think all Gujaratis can not speak/ write good English? I had the good fortune of studying under the best of teachers in a Gandhian school. And I give credit to my teacher to groom me.

He said, Oh! I see…

Dr. Kurien then told me to meet Dr. Pilkhane. I went. Dr. Pilkhane straight away asked me when can I join and how will I commute etc..

Later when I got my appointment letter, it indicated that I was offered the basic salary plus four increments as starting.

I was pleasantly surprised. I joined.

Some colleagues from my department did ask me if I had some family connection with Dr. Kurien.

How come he gave instructions to give me increments which was unusual. I had no idea and no connection whatsoever.

But I remember and cherish that one and only one meeting I had with him.

I think he appreciated the value of honesty and self respect and may be something else he saw. God knows.

I wish there are more leaders like him in our country.

Contributed by Neela Gupta NDDB 1979-1982


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