In India, if you got a job, it stays with you your whole life.: Becoming Minnesotan

Sudhansu Misra, c.1995.
  • Name - Sudhansu Misra
  • Age at interview - 64
  • Gender - Male
  • Generation - First Generation American / Immigrant
  • Date of Interview -
  • IAM Oral History Project 3 Celebration, Minnesota History Center, St. Paul, 2002

    Class & Work

    Asian Indian, Work

    Essential Question

    Life in the Old Country: What makes a country a person’s homeland?

    Class & Work: How important is work in defining a person’s identity?

    Words to look for


    Background Information

    India’s economy has often struggled over the past 100 years.  Under British rule, they lost much of their wealth as the British destroyed the local economy to fuel its Industrial revolution.  Even after gaining its independence from Great Britain in 1947, it took many years for India to build up its economy.  In the early years of independence the Indian government employed many of people, but jobs were still limited.  Because India is such a huge country with so many different ethnic groups, there has been a lot of competition for the few jobs that there are.  Many Indians have moved to the U.S. to find better jobs.

    To learn more about Asian Indian history and culture, visit our Asian Indian Community page.

    • Chapter 1

    Download Sudhansu Misra 1
    2:16 Minutes | 2.17Mb


    Narrator: Sudhansu Misra (SM)

    Interviewer: Polly Sonifer (PS)

    PS:  You worked for just a short time in India, and most of your work career has been here. Can you identify any differences in the way that work gets done in India versus the way that work gets done here?

    SM:  You know, that's so long back that it's hard to compare.  We're talking 1956 is when I came here.  Things have changed tremendously since that time.  That was the post-independence days, 10 years after independence.  At that time, it was pretty bureaucratic at different levels of management and we were all working pretty much for some kind of government agency or other.  It has to be the government there.  Here it was all private.  Coming from that environment to this environment, I saw that things are done much more efficiently.

    PS:  So you appreciate that efficiency?

    SM:  Yes.  Efficiency was very high.  Of course, the work is a lot different.  The pay was a lot higher.  So, those are the factors that causes the incentive to work here.  Later on, as time went by, I found that jobs are very insecure here [laughs].  In the beginning, it wasn't.  But in the mid-70's through mid-80's things are not at all stable.

    PS:  Is that different from India?  In India, if you got a job, would you have it…?

    SM:  In India, if you have a job, it perhaps stays with you for your whole life. Still, a government job, it's very difficult for anybody to be laid off or anything like that.  There the jobs are secure, although there are fewer jobs.  To get a job is difficult. So those are the kind of differences I experienced.  But, nowadays there a lot of company jobs, private jobs in India and things are much more secure there too and people are getting good pay.

    Related Glossary Terms


    Adjective:  Describes a large government or organization in which overly rigid or complex rules prevent anything from getting done.


    Adverb:  Describes an act that is done correctly and without any waste.


    Noun:  A particular political or social setting, arena or condition.


    Noun:  Things that contribute to a result.


    Verb:  To recognize; to determine.  (identifies, identifying, identified)


    Noun:  Something that motivates, rouses, or encourages; a bonus or reward (often money).

    lay off

    Verb:  To fire workers from a job, usually because the business is doing badly.  (lays off, laying off, laid off)


    Noun:  1. Those in charge of a business.  2. The process of managing, directing, or controlling something.


    Adjective:  Not in governmental office or employment.


    Preposition:  Compared with; as opposed to.


    Minnesota Historical Society. Becoming Minnesotan: Stories of Recent Immigrants and Refugees. September 2010. Institute of Museum and Library Services. [Date of access].
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