The Indian National Scientific Documentation Centre (INSDOC) is a component of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Government of India. It was by chance that I heard of Insdoc for the first time in the year 1976. At that time I was not to know that this chance encounter was about to bring about a radical change in my way of life.
I was at that time on the lookout for some translation assignments. I knew German and I was working as electrical engineer in the Central Public Works Department of the Government of India. This article about Insdoc appeared in the Sunday edition of The Hindu. It described the Insdoc activities concerning translations from foreign languages especially into English. It employed a battery of fulltime translators translating from European, East Asian and other languages. The article mentioned among other things the translators panel maintained by Insdoc covering freelance translators translating from those languages.
On an impulse, I took an inland letter and dashed of an application to be included in the Insdoc panel. It was a handwritten letter and cost me just 0.20 rupees. Within a week I received a letter from one Mr. Swamy, Translation Coordinator, Insdoc. He sent me a test piece for translation. I did the translation and sent it back. Next week I received confirmation of my being included in the panel accompanied by a small job. It fetched me Rs.81 (Rs.9 per page)! Since then I received jobs from time to time. These and the other Chennai jobs gave me confidence and I was able to land the job of a full-time French translator (I had learnt that language too in the meantime) in Indian Drugs and Pharmaceuticals Limited (IDPL) in New Delhi. Now this shifting to Delhi reinforced my Insdoc contact and I did a lot of work for them as well. This continued till 1995, when Insdoc activities were very much reduced on account of globalization and people favored private agencies to Insdoc on account of its bureaucratic slowness in returning jobs.
By that time a lot of water had flown down the Yamuna and I developed a lot of contacts including agencies and direct clients. But in retrospect I feel that all these developments were initiated with the help of a single inland letter sent by me nearly 30 years back. My gratitude to Insdoc is ever green in my memory.
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