After coming to England, I realized the extent of a problem quite a few in India (including myself) suffer from: Sense of Entitlement.
The one good thing I found in England almost immediately after arriving here was the value given to labor. The word Dignity of Labor is more than just a buzzword. One does not always have the luxury of calling a plumber or carpenter pronto and without much thought upon facing problems in one’s household. The high price of labor is one major reason. Moreover, a plumber or a carpenter is a highly respected a member of society, earning nearly as much as someone undertaking what is often seen in India as more ‘dignified’ jobs.
In India, possibly because of the population (bursting at the seams) and cheap labor, the whole concept of ‘helpers’ is taken to a whole new level. Not only are people incapable of fixing even the smallest of problems with a tap or a splinter jutting out of a table, but they also have this entrenched ‘system of dignity’ which is associated with labor. I was so pleased to find others in England who shared my inclination to thank anyone and everyone who may have helped me in any way. In India, many individuals suffer from Babu-philia, a shared understanding of the sense of entitlement usually attributed to the bureaucrats of the country (this being a statement with an essential caveat: there are a fair few dedicated bureaucrats in the country, who work for the cause rather than the associated perks). I would not go so far as to tagging this neo-colonialism, but this does give rise to a novel classification of individuals in society based on their occupation and more importantly, one that, possibly inadvertently, denigrates the concept of ‘labor’ in some ways. Sounds familiar? Well, the ancient Varna system did have this going, since ancient times, albeit in a more conspicuous and rather rigid way. But didn’t someone say that we live in a new age?
Labor is not to be taken lightly. The seeds of inequality and inequity (fairly distinct concepts, those) are sown whenever ‘dignity of labor‘ is undermined. Today we face an absurd reservation policy in India, where well-to-do and well-educated people are getting privileges (even in high ranking government departments and institutions of higher education) based on a fairly archaic segregation system in society, based on Caste, over the genuinely deserving and (often-times) economically underprivileged people from the ‘General’ category. I have seen quite a few friends in India having to suffer because of this absurdly formulated policy of so-called positive affirmation.
The need to always try to enforce equality has been trumpeted in a fairly farcical way in the political discourse; however, one of the key motivators for being a Libertarian right-winger has been the urge to question the need to tow the fairly absurd line of trying to bring in forced equity and equality, oftentimes using welfare benefit schemes. Doing so can hardly ever prove to be successful, given the basis for classification and reservation, which does not consider the finer lines of economics and local social realities of members of certain communities, thereby leading to a new cycle of what I see as the ‘Politics of Resentment’: privilege for a few, at times not on merit and genuine need, leading to the unprivileged other being resentful, and a then a slew of so-called corrective positive affirmation steps. I like to believe that given the right amount of freedom to the individual, under the rule of law and with access to essential human-resource-development tools, equality and equity are better-implemented and taken forward. And at the crux of all this lies the need to associate labor with dignity and to do away with a class-and-caste system that is more entrenched in our collective psyche than possibly in social circles!