Paraphernalia of Not Spotting Dignity of Labour in India

No introduction is expressly required to bring the enduring wordy duel between the Telangana Congress Party Chief, Uttam Kumar Reddy and Kalvakuntla Taraka Rama Rao, the Minister for IT and Industries in Telangana.

I would like to hit the incident cited above off with the reference point to bring out my standpoint on the dignity of labor. The dignity of labor is nothing but the way of life that all types of jobs are valued equally, and no occupation is deliberated as either superior or inferior.

Self-help is the best help! So goes a maxim that underscores the prominence of helping oneself. It is somehow related to the dignity of labor, indubitably. Nowadays, the ethics and morals are undergoing defilement to such an extent that people feel ashamed of doing certain jobs. Even in this era of machine and mechanism, some people are working for us in the society as manual scavengers. Some people may consider this as the worst trade that a person could be ever engaged with. Still, think of how would be the condition of the societies, in their absence, in which we live.

I remember my training days in the Indian Air Force. We used to wash our own plates (thalis) before and after having a meal. It is the part of the military curriculum. In a situation like war, everyone has their role to play and nobody would be ever there to help you out. Thus the concept of self-help is better appreciated by the armed forces.

The dignity of labor does not lie in the amount you are paid for certain work. No occupation is deliberated as either superior or inferior — everyone has a role to play and the importance of a specific job/person is felt only in their absence.

There are also so many social repercussions of the prevailing system in India, where we keep recapping awful class divisions based on people’s job so much so, that they stew their social status as inferior to the office-going-people. In India, such preconceptions are very high that certain jobs are considered very indecent. People prefer to stay idle at home rather than taking up employment that is considered generally licentious. This is very factual! Just cogitate the existing situation in India: in most of the families, the parents would let their jobless sons and daughters to stay idle at home for years but not allow them to take up a job that they consider as unrespectable. This is the huge bight that people in India are inept to overcome until today.  The contrary is the situation in other countries. As soon as the children turn into adolescence, they will take up the service to help the household income.

One important point of observation is — the same Indians, who are the students outside India, take up many odd jobs to make pocket money, in mail rooms, in fast food stalls, in retail stores, driving cabs, cleaning houses etc. In my opinion, such practices are so constructive for the youth to raise the value of such factors as accountability, responsibility, financial management, work ethos, above all, the dignity of labor, etc. If not, they would never pick up such ideal assets either through parenting (present-day) or through academics. Of course, there is no shock that hardly any indigenous student would ever be allowed to take up jobs such as these, as it is a matter of prestige to their parents.

Another prominent point associated with the same discussion is that — it is no wondering a fact that people with certain jobs in India are paid very less despite the fact that they work harder than the white-collar job holders. Of course, there is no point of bringing down the stature of the office bearers and employees of the firms and companies. But the point here is to specify that the people who are working as casual labors, maids, drivers, or in any such capacity, are being paid very less than their counterparts in other countries. In other countries, for example, in the US, cab drivers are very well paid when compared to their Indian counterparts, because people know how difficult this job is — being on the road for many hours a day; being away from their families, continually being on the go etc.

However, the situation in India is diametrically opposed to that of foreign countries. People like cab drivers etc. are paid less. This eventually leads them to choose other unsolicited means like tampering their vehicle meters to charge more for less distance. If we seriously take such things into account, the deep-seated source lies in the paraphernalia of not spotting Dignity of Labour!

–      Dr. Suman Kumar Kasturi