Hey residents of Mahagun Moderne, do you have something called shame? Oops! Wrong question. Do you intend to do anything about your shamelessness?
For those of you who haven’t had the time to pay attention to the nasty things the residents of this upper class residential society in Noida have been doing to their domestic helps, here they are. If you are someone who believes that domestic helps can be taken for granted and that anything can be done to them, please do yourselves a favour and stop reading. Watch some cricket or something while you complain about the sugar in the tea your domestic help made you.
There is a Theft. There is Always a Theft.
The perennial problem of the middle and upper class Indian. ‘Domestic helps steal’ stereotype. Don’t you remember the TaTa Docomo ad that was pulled down? The one in which a domestic help was portrayed as a thief, stealing a phone and hiding it in her blouse. That’s the biggest nightmare Indians have. Not Narendra Modi or mob lynchings.
Zora Bibi was a domestic help at one of the houses in Mahagun Moderne, which employs 500 domestic helps. She said she was accused of theft and was then beaten up by her employers. She fled and hid in the basement. When she filed a complaint with the police, her employer sprung into action accusing her of theft. Yeah right. What an even game. An organization had to help Zora Bibi to file an FIR. But for people like you, it’s so easy. Why don’t you make this a practice? Every time someone calls out your hypocrisy, file an FIR. Police will side with you. It’s called the power of money, as you clearly know.
So Scared so Soon?
Then, something unexpected happened. The domestic helps, around 300 in number, (according to police), gathered at the gates of the complex. Zora Bibi’s husband was there, leading them, asking where she was. They forced their way into the premises. Pelting stones, calling cops happened. While the versions of who started what are muddled, there is something that is clear.
Our attitude towards domestic helps sucks.
First of all, everything was working well for you till the moment the woman spoke. It was all fine till the time you realized that the woman was not alone. That she had a good number of people to support her and that she has something called rights. Yeah, sounds blasphemous, doesn’t it? A domestic help (naukraani- as Union minister of culture Mahesh Sharma who came to assure you called her and to which you cheered) having rights? Guess what, Richie Richs, it is true.
Now, let’s talk about something you have in plenty. Money. You were paying Zora Bibi Rs.6000 a month. I think it is safe to assume that others were getting paid around the same amount. Are you kidding me? You, with all that money to lead a life in that posh apartment of yours, you paid just Rs. 6000 to a woman who kept your home, cooked, cleaned, took care of elderly, children and god knows who and what else.
When you employ a domestic help, you become their employer. You seem dumb, so have to break it down to you like this. So as an employer, if you have something called dignity, or try to adhere to something called a code of conduct, you should be paying people in a reasonable manner. But no, you will bargain with your ‘didi’ as this ad calls domestic helps, and happily spend it on your next automobile or gadget. Next time you talk about your latest model of phone, please also disclose that you got the amount by cutting down on the domestic help salary.
Chest of Phobias
Now that you have come out as a total asshole, please also make clear that you are Islamophobic? What did you mean by calling the domestic helps Bangladeshi? Or you think that all Muslims from West Bengal are Bangladeshi insurgents? What if they are from Bangladesh, do they address you ‘Hey Indian’? I mean, come on. If you had such a big problem with identities, and nationalities, why don’t you yourself do the chores. Go ahead, do it. It is not impossible, there are people who don’t employ domestic helps and lead normal lives, so why don’t you give it a fucking try?
Amidst all this is a take-a-selfie-with-your-didi campaign that was launched by a designer brand. [Head-hit-wall.]
Don’t think that you can now go ahead and do this selfie thing with your domestic help and all will be okay. First, before gifting them the earring you didn’t even pay for, do some introspection. If you are doing any of the following, it’s time to acknowledge that you mistreat your domestic help and therefore start doing the work yourself.
- don’t let your domestic help eat where everyone eats. They have separate utensils, plates etc. and a separate place to sit.
- get angry with your domestic help every now and then, shout at them.
- suspect your domestic help of theft.
- pay your domestic help less that a politician’s phone bill.
- call your domestic help Bangladeshi
So all ye Moderne people, nice police and even nicer ministers, talk about your fear, your children’s fear, your neighbour’s fear and all that, after you solve your primary problem – that of being a rich brat.