DIGNITY OF LABOUR

It was time for Sumitra Devi who cleaned the streets of Rajrappa township in Jharkhand to retire after 30 years of service.  On her retirement day, her colleagues arranged for a farewell ceremony. There was nothing special  about it and was quite like another grade IV employee retiring day, until the arrival of three cars that changed the entire scene .

The first car with a blue beacon and the National Flag caught everybody’s attention. It was of Mahendra Kumar, the District Collector of Siwan, Bihar. He walked out of the car and touched Sumitra’s feet. The second car belonged to Virendra Kumar, a railway engineer. He too walked in and touched Sumitra’s feet. The third was of Dhirendra Kumar, a doctor, who too touched her feet.

All three of them stepped forward to the microphone and announced that they were touching the feet of their mother. The District Collector, youngest of them spoke on behalf of his elder brothers, “We lost our father when we were very young in an accident, and our mother, after her initial days of struggle, got this job as a cleaner. She worked very hard to provide for  all of us  and to give us good education. Even after we got good jobs, she continued to work here, giving respect and dignity to her work. We feel proud that she is our mother.” 

With tears of happiness in her eyes, she said, “I didn’t leave this job despite my sons being successful and competent and even after their consistent persuasion  on me to stop working, because it was this job that helped me to educate them. How could I ever leave something which turned my dreams into reality?”

Sumitra Devi has shown that no job is degrading, or small if done with honesty and dedication. Work is worship. If a job gives you employment, and helps you to create opportunities for others, it’s indeed a noble deed and you should take pride in doing it. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “All labour that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.” “The dignity of labour depends not on what you do, but how you do it,” says Edwin Osgood Grover. 

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