We’ve witnessed umpteen furores whenever the Establishment has come out with flawed figures in relation to poverty. The Establishment has been accused of manipulating the data in order to underplay poverty and to show everyone that their reign at the helm has helped in orchestrating poverty in the negative direction. Today, I am not going to talk about the figures. I know that to some individuals they appear highly faulty and I do agree to a great extent. Today, I intend to talk about the ‘poor’ people of India. All of us are aware of the hardships they face and are wholly supportive of the urgent need to provide them with basic economic necessities and a better standard of living. We can articulate on such matters day in and day out but today I’ve chosen to break away with tradition and jot down a scathing attack on the poor of India. I know that these opinions will invite outrage and opprobrium for me but it’s a writer’s right to pen down his observations and bring to light the hurtful ground reality.
Some poor people think that just because they’re poor they’re very innocent, always right and in a position to demand any insane stuff they desire from the rich. These people happen to be among the most incompetent and ill mannered set of people. You go to any workplace, be it a government office, a corporate headquarter or a school, you’ll find out that the most ill-mannered person of the organization in 90% of the cases will turn out to be the guard who’ll behave with you in the most obnoxious fashion. He is also among the most incompetent set of employees who’ll either be absent from his place of duty or will be found sitting around in a lethargic manner instead of being vigilante. Other employees of the lower cadre, namely peons and sweepers are no less when it comes to incompetence. Firstly, they don’t perform their duties properly and when they’re reprimanded they have the courage to answer back and frown. Punctuality eludes them. “Kaam waali bai’s” happen to epitomize incompetence. They’re quite irregular, late on several occasions and the moment you’ll check them, they’ll start yelling at you and will threaten you of leaving the job since they’re aware of the fact as to how hard it is to get a different housemaid quickly. These ‘poor’ people have become extortionists and they consider overcharging as ‘ethical extortion’. The reason which they’ll give is that, ‘Saheb, mehengai bahut badh gayi hai.’ I think that inflation is for everyone to tackle, the poor aren’t the lone sufferers but they surely suffer the most. A large section of these poor people operating as coolies, rickshaw-pullers, auto-rickshaw drivers and house maids tend to overcharge and fool others. All of us have come across their startling money demands for their so called services at railway stations, auto-stands and also when maids come to our places in search of jobs. Overcharging and attempting to fool innocent people in my opinion is a crime of highest order. I don’t differentiate this behaviour of the poor from the rich. To me it’s similar to corporate greed and bank usury.
These people also suffer from a very casteist and sexist mindset. If you’ll ever go to a slum or an impoverished village then you’ll come across the kind of vice bigotry they suffer from. Boys will be sent to study and play but girls will be made to stay back and work alongside their mothers in the kitchen. Upper-caste poor people behave like ruffians with lower caste poor people and are responsible for pushing them out of their homes and ghettoizing them in one corner of the village. People will say that the poor are not to blame. They conduct themselves in such an unacceptable and regressive manner because they’ve not had access to proper education. To an extent this argument carries weight but I don’t wholly buy into it. I have already been labeled as a ‘pro-establishment’ person but the fact remains and I am least threatened while stating this that it’s not always the government which denies education to such people but they themselves choose to deny education. The money which these people receive from the government for the purpose of educating their children (although quite few but sufficient in comparison to the expenditure bound to be incurred if one is studying in a government school) is utilized to buy television sets and not books. Children are enrolled in schools but they don’t attend schools. The mother takes the girl child along with her to help her out with her work in various households and the boys in most of the cases are absconding. Some obedient ones join their father’s work. But it’s quite evident that some of these people voluntarily deny education. Some will always say that we’re too poor, the government isn’t doing much for us and we’re forced to make our children drop out so that they can start working. This happens but the former occurs more rapidly.
I don’t think so that I need to mention about the number of criminals, drunkards, ruffians, rapists, murderers etc arising from the lower strata of the society. The circumstances in which they live are indeed very challenging but the way they’ve responded to these circumstances is indeed very questionable. They’ve been incompetent, ill-mannered and intolerant. They have resorted to cheating and fooling others in order to fill their pockets and stomach which is absolutely wrong. I have great sympathy for the poor people of this country and I know that a lot of them are remarkably innocent and in need of expeditious help but what I’ve seen so far in my life cannot be shrugged away, hidden or overlooked. The Establishment needs to make more inclusive polices and shouldn’t sleep until and unless these people are rescued from the vicious circle of poverty but the poor also need to mend their ways. I am well aware of the various vices present among the elite but today, I merely wanted to talk about the handicaps of the poor. We don’t need to over-safeguard them nor should we stereotype them as helpless, innocent, hardworking and honest people who are being suppressed by the capitalists and the government. We’ve been witness to suppression from their hands too. It’s quite often mentioned that God gives you what you deserve. This statement shouldn’t be taken lightly and all of us (especially the poor) should introspect. Start from the bottom of the ladder if this is what you’re destined to, work hard, be on time, be subservient and don’t resort to economic blackmailing ie overcharging just because you’re poor.