Not Stopping Yet

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Gone are the days when people used to think of retirement as a well earned vacation after 30 to 40 years of work. As Saima Bhat reports, several Kashmiris today are thinking about post retirement avenues long before their retirement, either for taking care of their liabilities or to keep themselves busy.

From his appointment in the mechanical engineering department as a section officer, to his retirement as AEE (Assistant Executive Engineer) in 1998, Haji Abdul Aziz Dar has had a somewhat smooth life. However, at that point, all his children—four sons and a daughter—were either still unemployed or studying.

“I didn’t have enough money to make them doctors and engineers,” he says. “So they simply did their graduations.”

Haji Aziz had completed his BE in mechanical engineering before joining service in 1964.

Now, after 14 years of retirement, Haji Aziz is still earning. He works as a supplier and contractor to various government departments. “It is the duty of every parent to make their children independent and to marry them off, so I had to work again (after retirement).”

He has only married off his daughter and the elder son. All of his sons work in the private sector.

Haji Aziz says he could have lived a “luxurious life” like his friends did, but he did not want to spoil his hereafter – life after death. He claims to have never taken “bribes and commission.” “If I had taken bribes, my sons would have been doctors or engineers,” he says.

In addition to his motivation for ensuring his children settle down, Haji Aziz says his passion for work did not allow him to stay home. He has been a footballer and played in various inter-state tournaments. “I am 70; I don’t take any medicines and never complain of any old age symptoms like my friends do. I feel it is because of my habit of being active throughout my life,” he says. “After all my sons are married, I might assist my elder son who is running a computers sale and service business.”

Busy and healthy

Ahmadullah Shah, an electrical engineer started his career in 1971 when he got the job of a section officer in the electricity department. After progressing steadily in his career, Shah finally retired in 2007 as AEE. He has good memories of working in the department. “Ours is the department with which people are never satisfied – the great electricity department,” he says with a smile.

Shah started an electrical hardware store with a few of his friends after three years of his retirement. They sell electric poles, insulators and other items to private contractors. He says he started working after retirement because he was feeling “lonely, depressed and unwell” while sitting at home. “I had never thought of working after retirement but life took a twist when my wife expired just two months after my retirement,” Shah says, adding, “If she would have been there, I would have been enjoying my retirement.”

Shah, a resident of Bijhbehara, says that retirement breaks the “normal schedule and discipline” in a man’s life. “It is quite normal if people start their work again after retirement because it gives them a feeling of being secure and busy. Still, I would have never done it if my wife would have been there,” says Shah.

Shah’s children, he says, want him to remain busy with anything of his interest. “That way my mind doesn’t remain preoccupied with other thoughts which affect my health,” he says.

Gulzar Ahmad was appointed in 1968 as investigator in the planning section of secretariat. After putting in 30 years of service, he retired as Assistant Director of Education Department in 1998. He planned to marry off his children – two sons and a daughter.

However, he had some apprehensions. “Some of my friends, who had already retired from service, would talk about change of behavior in their families after their retirement,” he says.

Immediately after retirement, one of his friends offered him a job in a school but he refused. “With time my retired friends’ grievances increased and these things used to always linger on my mind,” he says. “One day, while sitting on the banks of Dal Lake, a person stopped his car on seeing me and asked me to visit his office. That person was the son of TCI’s (Tramboo Cement Industries) owner. I went there and they offered me a job of administrative head, manager of their industry because some years ago, I had helped them legally in one case.” Three months after his retirement, Gulzar started working again for “being afraid of condition after retirement.”

Gulzar doesn’t feel bad about working post retirement; he says that earlier only Pandits used to work after retirement but now many people do. He adds, “But there are problems with the private sector, such as the fact that employees need to work even harder as there is no job security.”

However, he is happy with his decision to work post-retirement.  “To dress up in mornings as I did for more than 30 years now gives me a satisfaction. I believe a person is smart when he is busy in life with his work. My children tell me to enjoy my post retirement life but I can’t sit home idle,” he says.


The next level

Hawa Bashir, a mother of two and wife of a Chief Justice, was selected as a school teacher in 1970. She was later transferred to Women’s College where she continued till her retirement in 2005.She says, “I was the happiest person when I retired, because I felt I had worked a lot and missed some special moments of my family.”

After retirement, Hawa feels she is like a free bird. She has breakfast at 10—earlier she would have to reach college by 9 or 9:30. She is happy for “not needing to seek permission” from college to participate in any “social gathering.” “Nobody is there to order me now, I am the boss, and I feel like I was a slave before,” she says.

Throughout her career she has been very active, and since retirement she has been running a gym called Elements, which her husband set up before her retirement. She also works as an advisor for an NGO—RahatGhar—in addition to being an active social worker. “But most of my time is devoted to my grandson,” she says.

Hawa has been very fond of music since childhood. “While in school, my friends persuaded me to join a music school but at that time there was no such school, so I thought of doing an honors degree in music,” she says. After that she pursued her Master’s in music from Chandigarh. Hawa has participated in various musical shows like Miley Sur on Doordarshan Srinagar as a judge.

Hawa is “happy but not satisfied”! “It would have been better if it was a music academy and not a gym,” she says.

Syed Parveiz Qalander, often known as Parveiz Kaiser, served the government for 30 years and then took voluntary retirement in 2011 because he had his own plans. He was at the highest non IAS rank in the industries department which gave him a lot of exposure. “I always wanted to start something of my own,” he says.

Syed Parveiz completed his BE chemical from REC in 1980, after which he got a job in the government.While in service he continued to pursue his studies. He has a Masters in Business and Marketing, a Masters in maintenance and management, a Masters in Computer Applications (MCA), in addition to 12 odd PG diplomas.

Parveiz feels while serving the government, his contributions had been limited. He wished to “do something for his nation.” He had a consultancy (for industries and IT) which was started by his father in 1986 that handles projects at national level. He shares, “Once I start feeling comfortable, I get uneasy which means I have stopped learning.”

The desire to do something landed him in floriculture. He started it in 2006 and now has two flower farms. He also has vegetable farms and is taking up an aromatic plants project.

“We are planning to start integrated farm of sheep, fish, rabbits and cows and vegetable, seeds and flower farms also,” he says adding, “But I was never interested in gardening.”

For all these things, Parveiz takes help of various government schemes for farmers. He says, “Government has many schemes and they look wonderful on papers but these are not customized for Kashmir, these have been adopted from other states, so policies should vary as we have different climatic conditions.”

Additionally, Parveiz is a guest faculty at IIMPA, he is a match referee, commentator and cricket expert for Radio Kashmir and Doordarshan TV. He has been a sportsperson and he has played first class cricket for 20 years. He has been the first Kashmiri to play in English County in 1991 and in 20-20 match. He is still getting pension from BCCI for playing with them and for being a referee for them.

Vocational freedom
Dr. Yusuf-ul-Omer had done BE in electrical engineering and was appointed as assistant engineer but he left that job and joined Regional Engineering College (now NIT) Srinagar as a junior lecturer in 1967.Soon, he felt the need of studying further so he joined IIT Delhi to pursue M.Tech and PhD. After completing PhD, he returned to REC as Assistant Professor. He was promoted as Professor and then as Head of the Department for 18 years, after which he was made the Director of the College in 2004. “I realized that I had other responsibilities and took voluntary retirement in the same year,” he says.

Dr Yusuf-ul-Omer was also associated with the Islamic Study Centre, Jammu & Kashmir as its president, right from its beginning in 1968. He wanted to serve his society. Islamic Study Centre then founded Iqbal Memorial Trust in 1980, which was also headed by him. He says, “Being a government employee didn’t gave me that satisfaction, I thought when I can do something better for my society, then why be a government employee? I decided to devote my full time to this noble cause.”

Dr Yusuful Omer says he was never interested in serving government, he wished to feel free. He had taken the job of lecturer just to “get stable financially” for his further studies and to feed his family. He was married when he was a student in 10th. But being at the position of a president of Islamic Study Centre and serving his society gave him more satisfaction. He says, “I don’t take it as a job, it is my passion which comes somewhere from deep within my heart. I enjoy it.” His passion however led to an attack at his Islamic Study Center office, during which he received three bullet wounds.

Dr Yusuful Omer continues to work, and his family has never told him to stop.

“They are satisfied with what I am doing, or may be they are used to it and know my priorities,” he says.

Dr Ghulam Ahmad Magrey, 70 feels there is a need to earn after retirement also for three reasons- when children are not settled; when you are not able to fulfill the needs of your family on the pension you get, or simply to keep yourself busy.

Ghulam Ahmad is a father of seven daughters and a son. All of his daughters are married, but his youngest child, his son, who is a dentist, is doing his post-graduation. He says, “Earlier our needs were limited. We had land which produced enough rice and vegetables. We had to buy only a few things and I used to save my salary for my children’s education.”

When he was a student, Ghulam Ahmad was selected for Bachelors of Unani Medical Sciences (BUMS) in 1963.But two years later, that college was stopped by the government at the time, and he had to join some other field. “So I became a dental technologist as my parents were not educated and they were not aware of what to do or what not to do,” he says. After that, he got a government job in 1965, and was posted in different rural areas for a decade and a half.

“Then I went to Lucknow to pursue another degree and on my return I was posted as Chief Dental Technologist and in 1984, when Government Dental College was started, I was transferred there as senior dental technologist,” he says. He remained there till his retirement in 2000.

While being in service, Ghulam Ahmad started a clinic at his residence and used to see patients in morning and evening hours which continued after his retirement as well. He says, “My patients visit in the morning and evening hours only because I have kept the rest of the time for visiting my friends and for shopping.” He is satisfied with what he is doing, because it not only feeding his family but it keeps him fit and healthy.

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