Edited by: Dr. Renu Bharadwaj. Computer Expert: Shri. Simao Pereira. PREFACE My dear Younger generations in I.R.A.S. (and all other friends).
I am venturing to share with you, a part of formative years of my life, my experiences, during the partition of India and my life thereafter especially anecdotes from my career in the IRAS. I am taking the liberty of enclosing my “Flashbacks”.I am writing this in the evening of my life to all of you (I have now crossed 82 years of age) as I am including extracts from my experiences of my long official career. It is only a narrative and not an autobiography as it is my belief, that autobiographies are written by celebrities and I am not a celebrity. At the outset, I must also confess, that I have never been brilliant. I have not had any extra-ordinary achievements. So many officers must have done, even better in similar official assignments. My write-up is only a factual narrative of my experiences in life. Some parts of my experiences might be of interest; to some readers if they are not I beg your pardon for encroaching upon your time.
Actually, the fact is that my only son, “Vijay Prakash” who was Vice President of I.B.M. in U.S.A. for over 10 years, came back to India with a view to settle back in this country. When he was in Bangalore, he was murdered by his own driver, who burgled every material possession, of his including his American Express Cards and misappropriated cash by misusing them. Now the case is going on in Bangalore Court and the murderer is behind bars. I have accepted this loss as an act of destiny. I am now left with only my daughter (Dr. Renu Bharadwaj, M.D). She is a product of Armed Forces Medical College Pune and is now Head of Dept. of Microbiology and Deputy Dean, B.J. Medical College and Sassoon Hospital, Pune. She is married to a renowned Maharashtrian surgeon of repute in Pune. Her daughter is a senior executive in Infosys Bangalore and her son is a manager with Bajaj Allianz.
My son’s wife Dr. Jaya Prakash (a Maharashtrian) is Chairman of a Hospital in ‘Wheaton” near Chicago U.S.A. and her only daughter-14 years old, is a child prodigy, and wants to become Astronaut like Kalpana Chawla. They are now both American Citizens. She has received several letters of appreciation for her academic achievements from the President of U.S.A. She also excels in sports and has won prizes in swimming, Baseball, Tennis, Golf and canoeing. At present, she is in Engineering college in California, in a hostel, a few hundred miles from her mother.
Out of the items recovered by the Police, one LapTop was released to me recently. I am a complete novice with Computers. I do not even know typing. So, I try to use the Lap Top with one finger, and keep writing to the media, expressing my views on most political subjects. Political Science was my favourite subject, when I appeared before the UPSC for IRAS. I am also in a forum of “Right to information Act” along with Shri B.G. Deshmukh, former Cabinet Secretary and Shri Ribiero, IPS (RETD). It is in this background, that I have attempted to write and share with persons close to me, enclosed extracts from my experiences of life. Being a novice in computers, and also due to loss of memory with passage of so many years, I am bound to make all kind of mistakes. I therefore seek your forgiveness for my omissions, commissions and inaccuracies in the narrative, if any.
The Inspiration for writing this write-up came to me from three persons-
1) My closest friend in I.R.A.S that is Shri D.N. Basu. He has written an anecdote about me at page 209 of “The Untold Story” published on the occasion of the PLATINUM JUBILEE of IRAS, Western Region in OCTOBER, 2005.
2) My younger brother Suresh, Retd. Wing Commander settled at Nagpur. I have never seen a more dynamic person. He perhaps knew my flair for writing, as I was the editor of my college Magazine. After my retirement he taught me, what little Golf I have learnt. He is also an addicted Golfer like me. He particularly wanted me to keep writing to the media on important National issues. I have written about him, in the form of an Annexure, which is one of the copies of my emails to Shri D.N. Basu and
3) A young IRAS brilliant lady, Kakoli Ghoshal, a senior I.R.A.S. officer on the Central Railway. She was the backbone of IRAS’s Platinum Jubilee in October 2005, along with Smt.Sushma Pande FA and CAO Central Railway with the help of Shri Samar Jha (a Brilliant IRAS Officer), who had worked with me in his younger days in Mumbai (I have never met Kakoli so far). We have been talking only on telephone. She has left indelible impression on me... She must be my daughter’s age. She had read about me in the “Untold Story” courtesy Shri D.N.Basu IRAS. She was keen that I should write some parts of my long experiences of life.
Incidentally, I have been a sportsman all my life and have earned a number of trophies in Tennis matches on the railway. I have now got addicted to regular Golf, although I am only an average class Golfer.
Before I conclude this narrative, I wish to record, a few words about the philosophy of my life and self assessment as under:
Even though I cleared the IRAS exam through UPSC, and climbed the ladder, as a class 1 officer in Indian Railways, right up to the post of a General Manager, I have no claims to brilliance.
By nature and temperament, I happen to be very impulsive and highly sensitive and stubborn, as also highly sentimental. (In Punjabi, I would fit into a description of “a Khabti” and in Marathi, “a Khadus manus”).
In the matter of discipline and time management I have never compromised at all and I have a very low level of tolerance.
I am basically a loner, although during my career, I was somewhat of an extrovert.
I am not fond of mixing with the high end of society. I hate to brag or to show off. As for as possible, I keep away from parties. I hate pretensions.
I do not believe in multiplying wealth, as I consider too much money as the root cause of most evils.
I am almost an agnostic (not atheist) i.e. I am not religious. When a bus full of tiny tots of 5/6 years age falls into a river and all of them die, the religious gurus explain this tragedy, as the result of Karmas of last life. I consider this as most illogical and nonsense, when all gurus preach that not a leaf can move, without God’s will. How does one reconcile these phenomenons?
I do accept that going to religious places, does give some peace from worldly tensions.
I sincerely believe in doing as much good as possible, to others and not think ill, of any one. Sincerity should be the only hallmark. However I am as yet far from this goal.
I have dedicated this write-up to Shri C.T, Venugopal (known as ‘CTV’ in IRAS) the then A.M.F. Railway Board, the beacon of my life and a Divinity personified. I firmly believe that there will never be another human being like him ever. I am not sure, whether anyone from present generation of IRAS has ever met him or known about his divine qualities.
In the earlier years, right up to eighties, the Government deprived IRAS officers of the post of Financial Commissioner (F.C.) Railways, yet all Railway Ministers treated CTV as FC (Railways) for all practical purposes. With due deference to the present generation of IRAS FCs, in my humble opinion, not one, can command the qualities and stature of CTV. I would request to be forgiven for my honest comment.
I have worked very hard on this venture, for a number of months. As I am not able to send these “Flashbacks” to all, I would deem it a favour, if you can take the trouble, to send this text to your Colleagues and friends, If possible, kindly convey your feedback to me. I shall value it even if it is not favourable.
All my best wishes and blessings to you and your families.
Ved Prakash IRAS (RETD)
C-16, Neeta Terrace,
Phone No: 020 26124302 Mob: 9326224302
Email ID firstname.lastname@example.org FLASH BACKS PART - I Roots It is a universally recognized fact that no human being is perfect. We are, by and large, all, products of our genes, circumstances and environments
About myself : I belong to a lower middle class family, born in 1928, in a small town (more like a village) known as “Kamalia” District Lyalpur (now known as “Faislabad”) in West Punjab, Pakistan. I completed my Matriculation in Kamalia, which had a total population of a few thousands and I lived in a two room house, with no electricity and no drainage. Every day, I had to walk about 5 miles each way, to my Government School, which had a very affectionate and competent Headmaster. My father was an Assistant Station Master on the North Western Railway, almost always posted to small stations (known as “Flag stations"), where not more than two or three trains used to halt in 24 hours, and goods traffic was not allowed. Total staff in each such station consisted of one Station Master, two Assistant Station Masters (ASMS) and 4 to 5 class four staff. The nearest village used to be a few miles away. This is all the company I had, till I passed my matriculation. I had never seen either a city or a movie house. I was therefore only a rustic till then. I was never a brilliant student but I was able to surpass such students, by sheer hard work. In our school, English was taught after 5th class. In Matriculation, my examination papers, in all subjects like History, Geography, Science and Mathematics etc were in Urdu, and not in English. Even though I started studying English after 5th class, this is one subject in which I always stood first, throughout.
Our house in Kamalia, had only two rooms, apart from a courtyard. In the front room, opening outside on the main road, known as “Baithak” was kept a full size of “Darbar Sahib” which is revered as the “Guru Granth Sahib” in all “gurudwaras of the world”. In this room, persons of all ages (Ladies and Gents) would come from our “Mohalla” practically every day, and with their heads covered with handkerchiefs etc, and would bow before “Guru Granth Sahib” after touching their foreheads, right up to the ground, would sing or participate in regular kirtan of Guru Bani. My mother was one of the regular devotees and made me learn by heart “Japji Sahib” a small holy book. The surprising part was that, not one person, in our mohalla was a Sikh. Another significant part was that, the main “Gurudwaras” of Kamalia, produced a no of Saints, who went, all over the world, and who are known as ‘sants’ of Kamalia. Over the years, this town produced persons, who became senior officers in ICS and other top services of the Government of India, as also top Industrialists. It was a common practice in Punjab, that out of 2 or 3 brothers in many families; one brother became a Sikh, for the whole life.
Talking of Industrialists, I used to study along with O.P. Munjal, on the mudfloor of their house, next to our house. After partition, the family opened a cycle repair shop in Chandni Chowk Delhi. By sheer hard work, they became entrepreneurs and started the company “Hero Honda” at Ludhiana - a top motor cycle company spread over the whole country and abroad. My younger brother (Ramesh) is married into this prosperous family. He is now a retired Railway officer settled at Nagpur.
College period :After passing matriculation from my village, my father took me for admission to Government College Lyalpur i.e. Dist HQ, about 10 hours from Kamalia. This was a completely new city, built by British (like the present day Chandigarh) with a clock Tower in the centre, and all main roads faced the clock Tower. This city had, two more colleges viz Khalsa College and an Agricultural College which was the only one, in whole of Punjab as Lyalpur was and probably even today is, the GRANARY of the Province. There were lovely gardens and a canal, more like a river.
When I was interviewed by the Principal of the Government College (an Englishman “Dr J H Wilson”) I was barely 4ft in height and was the youngest and shortest boy in the whole college and was holding the finger of my father, who had a turban.
The Principal was hesitant to admit me, when all other boys were over 5 ft in height. He did however take me in, as he was impressed by my conversation in English. My father left me, alone for the first time, in my life. I hired a paying guest room for Rs.5 per month on the 2nd floor of a house. My land lady made it clear, that I would never keep my lights on, after 8 PM ever. One day she found my room’s lights on at 8-30 PM. She came up to my room and threw my trunk and all other items and all my books on the road outside. My next door neighbor was a Muslim Headmaster of a high school. Out of sheer compassion, the Headmaster’s wife came out of her house, picked up my trunk (I could not afford a suitcase) and books. She gave me a room and asked me to pay whatever rent I could afford and I could also share their food. They had two daughters of about my age, who became very close to me, and looked after me every day. I used to teach them English, my favorite subject.
One day, after a few months in college, in my zoology class (I had taken “Zoology” as one subject, because my mother wanted me to become a doctor) they cut a frog and when I saw blood oozing out I fainted. My zoology teacher reported me to the Principal, and I was thrown out of the college. After I was thrown out of the college, I took leave of my new Land lady, her family including her two daughters, and all of us wept like never before. As long as I live, I shall miss their warmth, love and affection. I would never be able to pay back all their kindnesses. They were my angels. If there is God, I am hopeful that they were well taken care of, after I left. If there were more people like them, world would be a better place to live.
I was then back to my father and our small railway quarter in a railway station with an uncertain and dark future ahead. I was unable to plan my future or see light at the end of Tunnel. My father was getting a salary of Rs.75 per month after 30 year’s service and he was the sole bread winner of our family of five persons. I was the eldest son and I became literally a parasite. To use an Urdu phrase (my favourite language) I was left “be yaro madadgar’ i.e. helpless. Every young person who joins any college has ambitions and dreams. These were all shattered. I used to spend a few hours daily in assisting my father at the station, in various ways i.e. in the issue of tickets to passengers, accounting of tickets, posting of cash book and other miscellaneous paper work of the station. I shall try to narrate later, the story of partition of the Country, the fruitless bloodshed of hundreds of human beings on both sides, to which I was an eye witness, painful migration from Pakistan to India, and my career of over 35 years on the Indian Railways, which is a long chapter of my life.
Part II: Exploring a Career
It is not possible, to recall accurately, every single important event of 35 years of a career after a lapse of 65 years, the chronology and the names.
I have already explained how I was thrown out of the college and the uncertain future I faced. After a period of depression, realization dawned on me, that life of all human beings is made up of ‘Ups and Downs’. I later realized that it is the accidents of life which inevitably determine the future journey of life, of all human beings.
I have explained above, how I got immersed in all kinds of paper work of the Railway Station. I also had a god-sent solace. I became very close to the Priest of local church. I would spend hours with him every day, discussing almost any subject under the sun and especially philosophy of life.
Though World War had ended, there was still a shortage of Pilot Officers, in the Air Force, I appeared in the interview and was selected. However, in the medical test, I was disqualified due to shortage in height and weight. My friend, the local Priest, offered to get my medical test cleared, provided I agreed to convert to Christianity. I refused, not because of any religious convictions, but out of sheer self-respect. Thus, I was back to square one.
North Western Railway Lahore (NWR) H.Q. office used to circulate a Weekly Gazette, to all Railway Stations embodying guidelines on various aspects of work on stations. Once in a while, a Weekly Gazette would carry an advertisement for recruitment of some subordinate posts. I came across an advertisement for recruitment of clerks grade II in the Accounts Department (i.e. junior clerks called C.G.II’s in the Pay scale of Rs.30-80). This was the beginning of my opportunity, to get into railway service. I submitted an application to the Railway Service Commission in Lahore.
My father was happy when I received a call for the examination and interview. I went to Lahore for the examination. This was the first time in my life, that I saw such a big city of Lahore. On reaching Lahore, I learnt that there were 50 vacancies and about 300 candidates and 95% of posts were reserved for Muslims and the remaining posts were reserved for Christians, Sikhs and others. There was no mention of “Hindus” at all. After, I appeared in the written exam and interview I went back to “Kot Sujan Singh Railway Station” where my father was posted – a one night’s journey. Incidentally this Station was named after Sujan Singh whose son Ujjal Singh was Governor of Madras. They were big Land-lords who owned hundreds of acres of agricultural land, in the villages around this station. Shri Ujjal Singh used to visit the station, once in a few months and I found him a very pleasant and highly educated person. I had the privilege of meeting him on few occasions during his stay at here.
After waiting for the result of my examination, for about three months, when there was no communication, I presumed that I had not been selected. I was naturally disappointed and so was my father.
After another month, there was an advertisement in the Railway Weekly Gazette for the posts of “Train clerks” grade Rs.30-60. Train Clerks are posted in Railway yards to record registered nos. painted on each wagon, holding a light and an umbrella. The job is strenuous and involves working in the yard even in rains and at night. I again applied to the Railway Service Commission, Lahore and I got a call. There were 100 vacancies and only 70 candidates. We were all selected without any examination or interview. We were issued memos to report to Railway Hospital at Lawrence Road for medical examination and if cleared by the doctor, to proceed to next Railway Station called” Walton Training School” for three months training. We all reported to Railway Hospital Lawrence Road, for Medical examination at about 11.30 A.M. We were asked by the Doctor, to report back at 3 P.M. Thus, we had a few spare hours. I made casual enquiries, about the location of Railway accounts Department, out of curiosity. This office was a few yards from Hospital. I wanted to find out, how badly I had done in my earlier exam for the posts of Accounts clerks. I went to F.A. and C.A.O.’s office, Administration section, on 3rd floor.
The H.Q. office of N.W. Railway, at Lawrence Road Lahore, was a very posh and impressive building, built by the British. When I reached the corridor of Accounts Department, I found a Board “No Admissions”. The peon in the corridor, advised me to wait there, for some staff member to come out, so that I could get permission to enter the office. After a while, two gentlemen came out, to go to canteen. On their return from canteen, they permitted me to accompany them inside. They were very kind and I sat with them and explained the purpose of my visit. During our discussions, I learnt that one was B.R. Bhandari and the other was Iqbal. Both were C.G.I (senior clerks). They looked into the files and informed me, that I was actually selected in the earlier exam as accounts clerk grade II (i.e.C.G.II) but no letter of appointment was issued to me, as in my original application I had opted for Multan Division, and there was no vacancy at Multan. They advised me to give them an application that I was prepared to be posted at Lahore and they assured me that a letter of appointment would then be posted to me. They also advised me not to appear in the Medical Test for Train Clerk’s post as this post was not as good and I would rot for years. As per their advice, I gave them an application, as dictated by them, expressing my willingness, for being posted at Lahore and absented myself from the Medical Test, for Train Clerk’s Post and traveled back home, empty handed after a full night’s journey.
When I reached back home without any job in my hand, my father was very unhappy that I did not take up the post of Train Clerk for which I was selected. My father explained to me that a Trains Clerk gets promoted as a Guard of goods train after about ten years.
Below is my photo during those days:
PART-III: Starting a Career from a Scratch on NWR After waiting eagerly for a month, for my appointment letter, at long last, I finally received a formal appointment letter from F.A. and C.A.O. N.W. Railway H.Q. along with a 3rd class free Railway Pass up to Lahore. This was a great day for me! My family and my village friends, including the Church priest celebrated.
I left for Lahore, after a big send off. In the H.Q. office of the Accounts Department at Lahore, I was posted as CGII with basic pay of Rs.30 in the grade of Rs 30-80 When I conveyed my posting to my father on the Railway Phone, he was very happy and remarked that when I would retire at the maximum of grade viz. Rs.80 per month I would become entitled to Inter class railway pass, as employees drawing above Rs. 75/- became entitled to Inter class pass, while my father who was drawing Rs.75 P.M. after 30 years service, was drawing only 3rd class pass. I was given an order, to take over from one P.D.Chandiramani C.G.II who was promoted as C.G.I. on a salary of Rs. 100/ P.M.(Fixed )I was able to get P.G. accommodation for Rs.10 monthly in Gawalmandi, Lahore. When I joined my job I was about 17 years old, as Govt. had relaxed the minimum age limit from 18 to 17 years.
I have mentioned above, two names, in this write up viz (1) B.R.Bhandari and (2) P.D.Chandiramani because these two persons, came much later again in my life, and worked under me in Indian Railways, after a lapse of several years, long after Partition of the country. This was an ironic accident of life.
While taking over from Chandiramani as C.G.II, I asked him how he got a jump straight to Rs.100/ per month. He advised me that he had passed an exam called “Appendix II-A” and he explained to me, all about this exam.
Next day he was kind enough to bring me his personal copy of Accounts Code Vol. I and asked me to start studying, which I did.
During the next 3 months, there was a vacancy of a C.G.II in D.A.O.’s office Multan and I was transferred to Multan - a one night’s journey from where I was. I again got a Paying Guest accommodation for Rs.5 per month. Multan has been the cheapest place of my career, ever.
Before I left Lahore, I learnt that the F.A. and C.A.O. on N.W.R. was Mr.Yaqub Shah. He later became the Auditor General of Pakistan after Partition. Interestingly, when Liaqat Ali, first Prime minister of Pakistan, was assassinated, Mr. Ghulam Mohammed, who was a class I Accounts Officer in North Western Railway (NWR), became the Prime Minister of Pakistan.
At Multan, I reported to D.A.O. Multan, Mr. A.N. Chadha, who was a very kind old man. His second in command was a senior accountant Mr. J.Dutta, who was designated as Superintendent. I was placed under a Subhead, Mr.Malik, a very kind and religious Muslim, who assigned me, my job in Establishment section. D.A.O.’s office had a total staff of about 40. I worked with devotion during the day, and at nights I studied for Appendix II-A exam (My Subhead was very kind in lending me all the Codes e.g. Accounts Codes Vol I and II, General Codes Vol. I and II, Engineering Code and Store Code etc.). After six months, I passed the “Appendix II-A” exam which was conducted simultaneously in all Divisions of NWR viz 1) Lahore, 2) Ferozepur, 3) Multan, 4) Karachi, 5) Rawalpindi, 6) Quetta and 7) Delhi. NWR had seven Divisions. Passing Appendix II-A examination in the very 1st attempt, i.e. within 6 months of joining. At my age this was almost a record in that office. As there was a vacancy of senior clerk viz C.G.I. in DAO’s office Multan, on the very day, results of exam were received from H.Q. Office, I was promoted as C.G.I from Rs.30 P.M. to Rs 100 P.M. (Fixed) with entitlement of Inter class Railway Pass. I received felicitations from D.A.O and everyone else in the office. I conveyed the news to my father and mother through the Railway phone. They were naturally overjoyed and excited.
I was also excited that I was entitled to a Inter class Pass, so I took a short leave and got an Inter class P.T.O.(Privilege Ticket Order) on which one can get a passenger ticket @ one third of fare and planned to travel from Multan to Kamalia (My Home Town). In a year three P.T.O.’s were allowed, besides prescribed no. of free passes, as is the case even today, in all Indian Railways. So, along with my P.T.O. I went to the Railway Booking Office at Multan Station, a few minutes walk from my office, for getting the Inter class concessional passenger ticket for Kamalia Station, on the strength of my P.T.O. The Booking Clerk at Multan, who was my father’s age and who was not eligible for Inter class himself, refused to exchange my P.T.O. When he looked at me, a 17 years old boy, he was sure that the P.T.O. presented by me was a forged one when he refused to issue me the ticket and being just a kid, I started weeping. I went back to my office and came back to the Booking Clerk, along with my Subhead Mullick Sahib whom everybody knew and respected. He explained to the Booking Clerk that my P.T.O. was genuine and that I had become entitled to Interclass Pass because I had passed a departmental exam. The Booking Clerk, then, issued me the concessional Passenger Ticket for Kamalia on 1/3rd of the normal fair. On return I had no problem.
I would like to narrate only one event of interest, during my work, in the office. One day, my D.A.O sent for me and my Subhead. I saw a very well dressed man in full suite, sitting there. My D.A.O. (the well dressed man) advised me that a man had come from Lahore and had advised the D.A.O. that he was a friend of F.A. and C.A.O.(Mr.Yaqub Shah). He had brought a T.P.O (Transfer Pay Order) for Rs.75 thousand, payable in cash to ‘Self’ (Transfer Pay Order was/is the instrument used for payment, by one Accounts Office through Accounts Office at any other Station). The visitor had so impressed the D.A.O. that we were given orders to pass the T.P.O. at once. The prescribed checks, as required, as per rules, were to compare the Seal and Signatures of issuing Officer on the T.P.O. with the specimen signatures and seal already available with us. The visitor was getting impatient and to create an impression, on the D.A.O. advised him, that in view of his personal relationship with the F.A. and C.A.O., D.A.O. Rawalpindi (Mr.Rashid Ibrahim) had passed a similar T.P.O for Rs.1,50,000/- within two hours of presentation. I had put up a brief note, on the file that even though Office seal was in order, the Signatures of Accounts Officer signing the T.P.O. did not exactly tally with the Specimen Signatures in our office. Despite my note, the Subhead over-ruled my note and cleared the payment for D.A.O.’s signatures. The D.A.O. was inclined to sign the voucher, overlooking my note, as the Subhead had passed it. Yet he had second thoughts, because of doubts raised by me. He politely informed the visitor, to come after lunch, as there was a minor discrepancy in the signatures on the T.P.O. and that he would get a confirmation within an hour on telephone from head quarter (H.Q.) Office. The visitor was very upset and left for lunch. During lunch time, D.A.O rung up the Accounts Officer concerned in H.Q. Office (Mr.R.K.Puri) about the discrepancy, and was shocked to learn that no such T.P.O. had been issued by H.Q. Office. The T.P.O. was thus a forgery and a fraud. The H.Q. Office immediately informed the F.A. and C.A.O. Mr.Yaqub Shah, who himself rung up all the D.A.O.’s and learnt that the fraud had already taken place in several Divisions. F.A. and C.A.O wanted to take disciplinary action against all the concerned D.A.O.’s. I was surprised to learn that the D.A.O. Rawalpindi, (Mr. Rashid Ibrahim) paid at once, the entire amount of Rs.1,50,000/- from his personal Bank Account to NWR. My D.A.O. was very kind and sanctioned me a cash reward of Rs.5/- for my humble contribution, in preventing the fraud. In any case, our well dressed visitor disappeared and never came back.
Thereafter, life went on a day to day basis. I made a few friends-mostly muslim boys around my house. I became a member of Railway Institute and started learning Tennis. There was no separate club for officers and they were also members of the Institute. Of course they had lovely Railway Bungalows, built by British.
Having passed Appendix II-A, within 6 months, I applied to F.A. & C.A.O, N.W.R. Lahore, through proper channel, for special permission to appear in the next higher departmental examination viz. “Appendix III-A” for promotion to the post of Junior Accountant (Now called Section Officer). This exam was and is even today, is conducted by Railway Board, for all railways together. My request was rejected as I was not a permanent employee. I had no choice but to slog like anybody else