From engineer to doctor: Raring in retirement

Tomi Ete with Dr Ajay Bharti on his left and Dr RK Prasad on this right

ITANAGAR, May 15: A retired senior official with the state government has gone from being an engineer to a doctor, obtaining his PhD, studying the mechanics of traditional toilets in Arunachal.
In February 2014, Tomi Ete retired from his state government job as the secretary to the public health engineering & water supply department. Three years earlier, in 2011, he had taken admission as a part-time doctoral scholar at the North Eastern Regional Institute of Science & Technology (NERIST) in Nirjuli, near the state capital.
Six years later, he is seeing the fulfillment of a long-cherished dream.
Ete had graduated from Guwahati’s Assam Engineering College in 1979, and was working as a lecturer in the same institute the following year. Then, on 14 January, 1980, he returned home to Arunachal as an assistant engineer.
“I was persuaded to come back to the state by Apang sir,” he said, referring to the long-serving former chief minister of the state, Gegong Apang.
It was also after he was already working that in 1996, he took admission in NERIST for his MTech.
He said that he was always interested in academia, which is why he chose to pursue a PhD.
His choosing his thesis subject – ‘A Study of Traditional Toilets and Sanitary Practices of Selected Indigenous Tribes of Arunachal Pradesh’ – was a result of his work with the government, as he was involved with sanitation.
His supervisor during the process, Dr Ajay Bharati, had attended a government meeting as a consultant when the idea to pursue a doctoral degree first came about.
While he has no immediate aims or set targets to pursue any career based on his latest degree, Ete said, he is willing to pitch in wherever anyone requires him to.
“I think I am still physically fit to move around,” he said.
Initially apprehensive about life in retirement, Ete said that he has been fortunate to have his wife, Jarjum, and grandchildren around him at their house in Itanagar.
“I am fortunate in that manner and am probably thriving in retirement,” he said, adding that the research for his PhD. kept him occupied.
The secret to achieving one’s goals, he said, is to take small steps towards them.
“Pursue whatever you have in your heart,” Ete said.