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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The dangerous mindset of being superior!

(This article was published in the PIONEER of 8/11/2013)

While exhibiting a total lack of concern for the task of nation-building, society has brought in a system of distinction and discrimination. That of the master and the servant, the rich and the poor, the powerful and the common man. The privileged consider heaping atrocities on others their right
The case of the death of a maid servant at the hands of the wife of a Member of Parliament, is shocking. That this incident comes close on the heels of a number of similar atrocities — a doctor couple torturing and locking a 13-year-old maid, a corporate executive inflicting extreme torture on her maid, and a retired Army doctor torturing his domestic helps in Bhubaneshwar — does not come as a surprise.
It is reflective of the perverted mindsets that have taken root in this nation which boasts of a proud history and rich culture. These incidents, that made national headlines, are a small part of what is happening in the confines of homes across the country.
Mahatma Gandhi once said a man should be judged by how he treats people from the lower strata of society. Only few who roll in wealth and power in India will pass this test. The total disregard for human values while treating not just domestic servants but also other blue-collared workers such as rickshaw drivers and coolies, is conspicuous by its universal presence in our societal system. Indeed, the Mahatma must be turning in his grave at the sorry state of affairs in the nation.
The varna system that divided Hindu society into four broad categories — Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras — was aimed at efficient management with all day-to-day activities being taken care of. Unfortunately, with the passage of time, varna emerged as the major criterion to determine status within the social hierarchy. It has now evolved into a ground on which political battles are fought and favours dispensed. This was not how it was meant to be.
While exhibiting a total lack of concern for nation-building, society has brought in a system of distinction and discrimination. The master and the servant, the rich and the poor, the powerful and the common man — these are the major categories with various levels of gradation.
Ultimately, the measure of a person in our society is assessed on the informal system of these gradations and the more formal varna system. In the process, value systems have been given a convenient go-by.
The recent cases of abuse of domestic workers at the hands of those we regard as the cream of society are exceptional ones that got highlighted. They had sufficiently out-of-the-ordinary stuff to qualify for prominent space in national dailies and television. But the malaise runs much deeper if we look below the surface. The fact remains that in the total absence of dignity of labour, a man whose physical labour earns him a living, is regarded inferior to those who have other callings in life.
This is a far cry from the developed world where every human being is treated with basic respect and given the dignity due to him. The false feeling of superiority that is enshrined in the masters makes them regard torturing their inferiors as something that is normal.
It is a problem of mindset. Almost every person who, in his own opinion, has ‘arrived’ in society, treats those whom he considers inferior to him with utter contempt. The same high-profile woman who killed her maid may just be treating her own family with love and affection.
Perhaps the solution lies in issues relating to governance. The absence of role models in society is only catalysing the rot. A complete lack of effort to create a value-based society is leading us to this dangerous situation. It is time that those who are in Government and, therefore, have the potential to emerge as role models, show us the way.


  1. Please write a blog about suspension and subsequent revocation of two railway officers at Lucknow. We railwaymen deserve this treatment from superior men of indian railways.