| TEAMWORK TRAIL: Educationist Raj Sethia (centre) explains a point to the staff of Victoria Memorial, watched by curator CR Panda (to Sethia’s right). Picture by Aranya Sen
Saturday is a holiday at Victoria Memorial Hall, but this was no ordinary Saturday. A large section of the Memorial staff crowded the Central Hall and the mood at work on a holiday was surprisingly upbeat.
At the centre of the Saturday action was educationist Raj Sethia, invited by the Memorial authorities to help hone the skills of its staff. Aimed at bringing about a coordination in the activities of the staff of different departments and facilitate the conservation of this heritage structure, the workshop on motivation, attitude re-orientation and professional effectiveness was, in all likelihood, the first of its kind in the history of the Memorial.
Inaugurated by C.R. Panda, secretary and curator of Victoria Memorial, the thrust of the workshop was on the key ideas of “mastering the power of perception”, “constructive visualisation techniques” and “factors that influence the mind”.
Sethia, who had earlier conducted similar workshops with the Raj Bhavan staff, at the instance of Governor Viren J. Shah, focused on the importance of the role being performed by the Memorial staff. “Any output from a staff of Victoria Memorial goes into preserving one of the most important landmarks of Calcutta. Hence, a change in their attitude by helping them understand their job better, will also help them contribute better, in the larger interests of the city’s heritage.”
Job functions at the Victoria Memorial are co-related, but have, for long, suffered a lack of orientation. “If a member of the restoration team and one from the digital archive department work on different eras, then automatically the work gets delayed. However, if there is proper coordination between them, they can work on the same time-period and finish off their work faster,” said Panda, convinced that such workshops should be held regularly.
“It is necessary to create an atmosphere of positive thinking and a sense of teamwork through such workshops,” added administrative officer Kumarjib Chakraborty. Since the nature of the jobs of the Memorial staff is multifarious, Sethia discussed job-specific case studies to resolve the working issues and problems presented by the staff. Through introspection and suggestions, he tried to make them look at things in a positive manner.
“We were made to think that our work is not just a ‘10 to 5’ duty, like any other government organisation, but is linked to the art and culture of the nation. We are preserving an era, not just scriptures and documents,” said senior restorer Ram Pravesh Savita.
A highlight of the training session was the fallback on ancient Indian scriptures and epics to help the staff create “professional excellence” by drawing upon traditional wisdom and rich heritage. The final message at the Memorial — take pride in preserving the past for the future.