Privy Place Minions
is quite worried that there would be no one to clean up public places,
if Dalits were to take up white-collar jobs. Most people brought
up in towns and cities in the post-independence era may not be able
to appreciate the Seer's anxiety on this score. For they are not
privy to the then familiar sight of 'night soil' carriers and barring
the shanties, most dwelling today have a built-in lavatory in the
building itself, if not attached to every bedroom, as in the houses
of the affluent.
But I do remember
the times when things were quite different. Mangaloreans today may
be shacked to learn that there were days when the most elite of
houses in Mangalore did not have a lavatory attached. The house
premises were sacrosanct, meant only for living in, dining and resting
and cleaning oneself, with at best a bathroom facility available
. But never a place for relieving oneself anywhere within the walls
of the abode, considered a sanctorum.
The lavatory would
be at the far end of one's compound, mostly to the rear of the house,
with a wicket-gate access available for the municipality thoti who
arrived daily to clean up and carry away the night soil in his balti.
All this was before
septic tanks were introduced. The menial ensured manually the disposal
of human excrement a crucial drill for society as it existed then.
Thanks to Gandhiji
showing the 'way' and then the law-makers enacting laws against
such human exploitation and banning the carrying of 'night-soil'
, these societal ills have disappeared from normal view; though,
like in the case of all reformatory social legislation, there are
instances and reports of violation and aberrations galore in many
parts of the country. But no reform can succeed fully with out a
change in the mindset of the people, which is something of a tall
Talking of attitudes,
one often wonders why one needs class IV employees and sweepers
at all, especially in officers and public establishments to do the
sweeping and the cleaning. And then the compartmentalisation in
duties and responsibilities to be attended to, evolved among each
rung of such minions, often leaves one's mental balances a little
wonky, inability to overcome their cussedness on change their attitude.
Take for instance
the cook at home fetching you your cup of tea. He may stumble over
bits of paper and the previous night's party remnants scattered
all over the floor obstructing his path, but would not lift a finger
to pick up the offending things-because it is the sweeper's job.
And remain, the dirt
will, at the very site, giving you a sore eye, till either the sweeper
arrives, or you yourself pick up a broom to sweep it off.
Which takes me to
what happens in this regard, abroad. No menials there I am afraid,
nor minions to pander to your whims and fancies or tolerate your
nawabiyat. Self-help is something that you graduate to in no time,
whether it be at washing your own cup and plate or sparkling the
commode in the toilet.
But back home in
our own land that is steeped in servile culture that is, to service
and be served, -it would be an uphill task to get people to fight
against their dependence on servants, or menials. May be the media
blitz that creates a scare in town each time a servant-related crime
is reported, would motivate people away from this servant culture.
The servants, along with the Dalits, could then also vie for white
collar jobs-acharyas or no acharyas.
Right © Maxwell Pereira: 3725 Sec-23, Gurgaon-122002. You can
interact with the author at http://
www.maxwellperira.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
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