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    Guard who did Phd

    Delhi University guarded by man who'll soon be PhD

    SMEETA MISHRA PANDEY
    Indian Express
    NEW DELHI, MARCH 12: Among scholars who will get their doctorate degree this year at the Delhi University convocation, there is an unlikely student. Raj Kishore Pandey, 44, a campus guard at the University.

    Kishore, who got married when he was 10, has spent as many as 20 years guarding the campus. He came to the Capital from Tiwaripur in UP in 1980 armed with a 12th standard certificate from his village school and started off as a daily-wage worker at DU. He then moved on to become a security guard who would bring his books to work.

    That is the only thing that sets him apart. Indeed, when Kishore arrives at the front gate of the Arts faculty at 5 pm to stand guard, he is the epitome of the chowkidar: The usual khaki uniform, the navy blue muffler, the cycle with the little cloth bag that contains the steel tiffin box hanging around the handle.

    He will sit on an old wooden bench -- he says it has given him company -- from 5 pm till early morning. He narrates his story: describing those who helped him and those who didn't, his four children and wife who believed in him and that precious moment, after eight years of research, when his PhD thesis was approved.

    The thesis was a `Comparative study of Adhyatma and Ananda Ramayana'. In fact, his face lights up at the mention of the word Ramayana and he asks: ``Did you know that Ramayana has hundreds of versions, each one distinctly different from the other? However, the essential plot in all these versions can be traced to the original one: Rishi Valmiki's Ramayana.''

    Completing his thesis was tough, he says. ``Initially, the university authorities refused to grant me permission to begin research. They argued that PhD being a full-time course, I could not both work and study. They asked me to take a minimum of two-year leave without pay and do my research work. However, the then V-C Prof Upendra Baxi helped me. I took leave and he helped me withdraw some money from the provident fund.''

    Former DU registrar, the late Prof Madan Mohan, ensured Kishore was assigned evening duty so that he could study by day, he says. In eight years, Kishore completed his thesis and passed his viva test this session.

    Before enrolling for PhD, Kishore had completed a masters degree in Sanskrit from Hansraj College and BA from Shivaji College. However, he never managed to bag a lecturer's post. ``Maybe, I lack something,'' he says. ``But then the stigma that I am a chowkidar always bothered the interview board. I could never convince them that I could be as good or bad a lecturer as any other qualified person is.''

    Kishore considers himself lucky that he managed a two-year stint as a guest lecturer in Deshbandhu College. ``I had to teach for a total of 20 hours in a month. I was paid Rs 50 for an hour. I loved that period in my life. I would bring home Rs 3,500 from my chowkidar duty and Rs 1,000 as a guest lecturer. But it was too good to last.''

    Today, he is eagerly awaiting his PhD certificate. Says DU Registrar Prof K K Panda: ``Once he gets his PhD degree, it will become easier for him to get a lecturer's job here. We will do our best.''

    And, how do Kishore's colleagues react? ``They don't treat me in any special way, neither respecting me too much nor ostracising me.''

    ``Even if I never manage to become a lecturer, I will have no regrets,'' says Kishore. ``I have ensured that my children receive proper education. My son is pursuing his masters in Hindu College and all my three daughters are doing well in school. I have never appointed tutors for them at home. I teach them myself. I have put my education to the best possible use.''


    #2
    I have mixed emotions about this story.

    First impression was the image of a man with determination & vision whereas on the other hand its the tragic but no-so-new side of sub-continent culture.

    What Mr. Kishor has done to accompolish this feat is exemplary although the way he has done is questionable. But I don't reserve any rights to comment on as to why he was unable to find a better job while he was holding the master degree?

    An example of sheer determination & motivation but at the same time lacks initiative and decision making.

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      #3
      yeh konsi barri bat hai? karachi aur lahore mein buhat saray MA/Msc paas rickshaw aur taxi chalatay hain.

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        #4
        X factor, you are a shining example of that?

        The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist. And like that... he is gone.

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          #5
          It just shows that when one is determined to achieve some thing, there is no stopping. It also tells us how important it is for Governments to provide access to education for everyone. There are hundreds of millions of South Asians that are denied access to higher education. We can built bombs but cannot take steps to educate our people. But hopefully things will change. By the way, his effort is a lot more resolute than what I had to do. I held odd jobs, totaling 50 hours a week while I was a student for six years in England, and I am proud of that. This story brought back memories as I worked as a security guard on campus at nights (but I didnít have a family to feed).

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            #6
            Imran,

            I agree with you but the thing that stood out for me was acessibility of education for everybody and secondly breaking down of the barriers of class system or societal norms that previously dictated that only middle class or rich go to University or value education.



            [This message has been edited by Rani (edited March 15, 2000).]

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