Thursday, July 21, 2011

Fate - As we call it

A routine set of events happening in my life have raised a lot of questions inside me and most times I myself try to give a justified answer to it. I succeed few times, but fail most of the times. You wake up every morning, drive to office and on the way in a busy signal see people asking for money. You ignore them 97 out of 100 times assuming they are not genuine, as in are victims of a trafficking mafia or the fact that they shouldn't be begging given their physique. You reach office, give you car keys to the guy who does the valet parking, which you know for sure is one of the most difficult jobs given the space and the number of cars. You see a lot other employees not treating him with the respect he deserves. You think about it for a few moments and then you are off to your workplace.

You take a tea break, and when you are having tea outside your office premises, you see a family of four with two children asking for money, or at least some food for the kids to eat. You think of helping them, but most often than not you do not help. It pricks your heart for few seconds. But then you are off with your work. If it is a lucky day, you leave office early. You reach home, sit in the balcony and have a cup of tea. You watch children in your apartment play. You see two groups of children playing. One group, belonging to the children of the flat owners and tenants and the other group, consisting of the children of the domestic helps. And when one of the latter tries to communicate with one of the former, a housewife from the second floor balcony shouts asking the former to keep away from the latter. You want to throw the tea along with the cup directly on the face of the lady who is shouting. Instead you watch, just watch like a dumb man who can not speak even if he wants to.

I can keep adding events after events happening in front of us everyday. But what is the point?
The point is, what right do I have to earn more than what my father is earning in my first job just after college? A boy born on the same date as mine but to a father who is a lorry driver would be lifting bricks in a construction site now. Money speaks more than words, I agree. But what is more important than money is the mutual respect between human beings irrespective of money. It is very easy to call the situation of the boy I mentioned above is due to fate. But is it really fate or is it known as fate but in truth is human intolerance to responding to other humans needs as they would respond to their family's needs?

Respect comes with money and if you are the money provider, you never need to respect anyone. A very simple example is how we treat our domestic helps. For a fact, we know, our day will halt if they are not IN on that day. They are so essential to us, they drive the whole day for us by completing all "maintenance and ops" allowing us to concentrate only on "development". But what is our mentality towards them? We bargain with them even for INR 50, but we would not mind paying the same amount as convenience charge for booking 3 tickets on bookmyshow. Why? Because bookmyshow is not dependent on you, but the helper is. The most important factor that we forget is INR 50 is something huge for the helper and it is not something huge for you. The downsides are of their erratic behaviour, using foul language, not doing work properly and stealing/theft etc. If we, in a so called civilized society, have no sense of mutual respect and dignity towards a fellow human being, how can we expect a poor helper to be civilized?

We read articles and watch news about atrocities in villages being committed against human kind. We feel bad about it, we crib them, we call them uncivilized. Do we think for a moment whether we are civilized? Civilization is directly proportional to the amount of respect and proudness one is able to feel and is made felt by others on whatever work someone does. If someone is collecting garbage from your house, he is helping you clean your house. He deserves respect for that, we can not treat him like garbage. Another instance that comes to my mind is when I was driving my car and there was a road crossing. I slowly stopped the vehicle. And a small girl crossed the road whose mother was on the other side and a domestic help, a small girl in her teens, was along with the young girl. There was zero chances of any accident. The domestic help saw the vehicle stop and then let the small girl cross the road. Soon after this happened, the mother slapped the domestic help in public scolding her for not taking care of the girl while she was crossing the road. I agree she is concerned, but would she slap if the girl was her husbands sister or her sister or her sisters friend? This is what I can fearlessly call modern slavery. What right does someone have to beat up a young girl in public when she should have actually made her go to school?

I frankly do not have much idea about what I am exactly trying to project and I don't have a theory and I don't think I am talking wholly about communism as communism is huge and to understand what it is you have to be well read about it. The word sends fear across the cash rich middle and rich classes and I can openly admit I too do not want to get deeper into the word as I fear I may end up hurting my close loved ones. I wanted to express what I felt very vaguely and I would not mind if this post is never read. All it will do is motivate me to be respectful with fellow human beings of this world irrespective of anything else other than the fact that they are no different from me. The current generation of people who are in mid 20's and early 30's are more inclined to this and hence the change is pretty evident.
I myself, am a selfish human being who can just write some crap and actually can not do much to influence others. I am not helpless, I am just selfish to put it plainly.
Bare minimum, if not with adults, I would dream to see a day when all children in a gated community happily play together irrespective of who their parents are.


Sankar said...

One word that I heard which suits for this is "Elitism".

In India:

0) Culturally we are trained to rank and label people/jobs.

1) People are judged (higher/lower) by the money that they have.

2) There is soooooo much of variation in pay between white-collar and blue-collar jobs (Thanks to USD conversion) So, it has become normal for rich people to consider poor (than them) people inferior.

What is worse, blue collars also think the same and want their kids to do only white collar jobs.

I went to Germany for a conference and realized what social equality actually means. It changed my opinion about India so drastically. A group of Distinguished Engineers, vice-presidents, directors served us food, cleaned the used plates, gathered drunk beer bottles etc. in a conference dinner. They were a group of about 15 people (in the top of org. chain) serving food and cleaning plates for about 200 guests. Such a thing will _never_ happen in any big Indian software company.

One English D.E. once asked me: "Why does Indian senior managers expect the security to getup and salute when they enter office ?" I could not answer him easily.

We have this extra-ordinary urge to rank people/jobs and there is a _fear_ to not mingle with anyone below your rank, fearing that it may affect their rank.

There are people who travel in Volvo buses because they find common people in normal buses, which they consider unhygienic (technically the A/c volvo buses have more chance of virus spreading)

Our years-old caste system is a testament to this ranking aspect. Even in today's India, even educated people, do not want to marry someone from lower caste.

We are a country whose middle class is obsessed with Elitism :-)

The solution(s):

(1) Make sure there is not much of a gap between the rich and the poor and between different jobs. In fact Manmohan singh proposed this once but the idea got shot down because it didnt go well with the middle class of India.

(2) Stop judging people based on money. Or atleast stop reacting differently based on money. Do not feel weird about sitting together with office-boys/plumbers in lunchtables/office buses.

(3) No short term solution possible, just like how it is for any other social problem :-)

santosh said...


Awesome post da!!! Felt really good about you after reading this.. Great going!!!

Varunkumar Nagarajan said...

Nice post DK. This is definitely a serious problem influenced by us only. I strongly feel that the reservation system we have for backward class is also a reason for this. It definitely sets on the minds of rich / middle class that they are superior to others.

I haven't seen any such thing happening in NYC. People give so much respect for each others. Whenever you have eye contact with any random person (even on the road), that person will reciprocate with a smile on his / her face. Even if they meet workers on the way, they stop by to ask how they are. And, they dont treat any job as inferior to others.

Though we, Indians, claim that we are good at hospitality, we have to accept the sad fact that we don't respect others unless there are some personal benefits.


Nishanth said...

Wonderful post DK! You've written everything about what I keep contemplating about! Brushing aside philosophies, I've seen for myself that showing genuine respect and interest towards a person is what is grossly lacking these days. But ur post proves that there is still hope in this increasingly maddening world! The most meaningful post Ive read in recent times! We're on the same wavelength :)

SushMira said...

Great post DK! I am sure all of us have these thoughts and glad that you wrote them down!

Murugaprabu said...

Hi na,

Nice post. Really makes people to think. But no use by just commenting. I love the closing part of your writing. You are accepting your selfishness. Loved it..loved it a lot...

Murugaprabu Marimuthu

Abirami Rajendran said...

Loved this post! The bare minimum we can do is be polite and be mindful of our words. They have so much odds stacked against them and they try so hard to make something out of their hard luck to give their children a future. Like you said, even if we don't really help, the least that we can do is treat them well.

And the other thing is how we crib if we were to work one saturday/sunday extra. The maids/house help are expected to work on all days and there's no extra compensation. We don't have a maid yet, but when we do, I want to have a compensation plan for them - if not as generous as what we receive at work, at least a basic health expense coverage, transport allowance etc - what do you think?

Ramya AT said...

Wow! Usually i dont have the patience to read blogs! But this one grabbed my attention!! Really a good one!! Very thoughtful and thought-provoking too!

Pradeep Prem Kamal said...

Good one Arun, I feel mutual respect for human beings regardless money and status is definitely needed among everyone.