Browsing through the kid’s section of a high end mall during sale season, a couple of years ago in Bangalore, I finally managed to find the right skirt for my then 7 year old daughter. Feeling momentarily triumphant, I am suddenly unsure about the size. Looking around for help, the faraway sales guy comes to my rescue. He had seen me looking around helplessly. As he enquires about my problem, I can’t help notice the distinctly north eastern looks. I am almost tempted to break into my Assamese as he confidently assures me that I had indeed picked up the right size in Hindi. I come away feeling satisfied with my purchase and the feeling that someone who had such valuable soft skills had to venture so far away from home for employment.
Moving out of the state way back in 2000 to explore opportunities. I too had undertaken a similar journey like hundreds of others and so identify with the hardships and insecurities my peers and those before them must have undergone. I had lived in Gurgaon, considered, the backyard of Delhi, for almost nine years. Working as an HR professional for the outsourcing industry, I was witness to its transformation into the ‘hip’ international city of today.
With time, the number of people wanting to explore opportunities or simply looking towards a better quality of life has only increased. Students wanting to study the subject of one’s choice, or attend the college of preference, people with limited skills or specialised skills. One gets to meet all kinds of people. Intending to enhance their skills further, people from the region grab on to opportunities eagerly.
Coming back to Guwahati city for personal reasons, after all these years was a pleasant surprise. Familiar landmarks seemed alien. I couldn’t help but notice the myriad malls and multiplexes, branded eateries. The confidence in its workforce, be it the banking lady trying to help me open another account, the sales guy helping me to fill up the form for a lifetime membership card or the hairdresser explaining what look suited me best.
With the experience of living in different cities, I could clearly conclude that north easterners have both the will and skill to adapt to any work culture. With a greater will to better their lives, our people are self motivated, perhaps owing to the limited opportunities back home. Culturally endowed with a soft demeanour and an inclination to treat even total strangers with utmost respect. People from the region seemed naturally suited for certain kind of jobs which require constant interaction or interface with customers. Also they do not seem to have any major problem so far as picking up a language is concerned, such as Hindi, English etc. The only thing missing is the exposure.
Adding further weight to this belief is an incident that took place a couple of years ago. The mass exodus of north easterners as a fallout of the ethnic violence in the BTAD areas from the mostly southern states is one such example. One might recall the pleading of a minister from Bangalore, exhorting the fleeing workforce to return to the jobs they left behind, upon promise of greater security and a negative salary deduction if they rejoin, is perhaps unprecedented.
But with this region on the verge of a makeover, provided the ‘look east’ policy takes off in the right way. People would no longer be required to embark on the long, lonely journey towards employment. Away from loved ones, from familiar environs, and yet suffering the pangs of a racist attitude. But with exposure, experience and confidence, opportunities would surely follow.
Zerina Wahid is a postgraduate in English. She started her career as an HR professional handling recruitments for GE capital in Gurgaon. Later, she moved on to a couple of other organisations like Aegis (Gurgaon) and Spanco (Kolkata). She has around 8+years of experience in the outsourcing industry. She has relocated to Guwahati over three years ago. Currently, on a sabbatical, her interests includes reading, socialising, travelling, movies, besides taking care of her family.