He helps run the city, he says, but can he get some respect?
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On August 11, 2004, Damodar S left a village in Cuttack in Orissa to come to Bangalore. A private recruiting agent had assured him and 75 others jobs. It was Damodar's first trip outside his place but, he remembers, he didn't think twice before boarding the general compartment of a train that took him from his agricultural family to the country's IT capital, 26 hours and 1,500 km away.
The Rs 6,000 a month promised to him as a security guard at an ATM was too good a deal to miss, certainly double the money he would have earned at home. Nearly nine years later, Damodar, 32, is now a supervisor posted as a guard in a printing firm.
He has heard of the attack on Jyothi Uday, inside an ATM near Corporation Bank Circle. He has also heard that Karnataka has now made it mandatory to have guards at all ATMs. The problems Damodar has faced are more in the nature of uncooperative bank customers and heavy-handed police, but he hopes that with the need for more guards recognised, he and others will get the respect for the task they perform.
Nearly 6 ft in height and weighing 55 kg, Damodar, a matriculate pass, had once nursed dreams of becoming a policeman. He had even cleared the recruitment drive conducted by the Orissa Police in his first attempt. However, while he was waiting for a call for training, he got to know that he may be posted in Naxal-dominated Malkangiri.
"While I would willingly fight for my country and lay down my life, what about my family? Can the government assure that it will provide for them after I am gone?" he says.
Bitter about the Naxal violence in his home state, Damodar accuses the state government of focusing its resources on fighting them. "Both the government and the private sector are directing all jobs and development in those areas," he says, explaining that that was one of the reasons for the lack of opportunities in his native place.