The article “The risks of sweeping the floor” (July 9) by Krishna Kumar has portrayed the corruption of mind in the average Hindu society, reinforced by years of a casteist social order. The order despises manual work but exploits it economically. It considers the chanting by a purohit holy and the sweeper who cleans the streets lowly. This social corruption is well entrenched even among the so-called educated and better off middle classes.
At the height of the anti-reservation agitation a few years ago, medical college students from the so-called elite castes mockingly polished shoes in public, implying that if reservation was implemented, they would have to do only shoe polishing. The caste-class social order continues to be preserved in Shining India, whose elite members do not know what the sweat of the brow means except when they are in the gym to burn their accumulated fat.
The Chhattisgarh Congress leader’s sycophancy has endorsed the stigma and perpetual denigration borne by countless sweepers and cleaners. It is distressing to note that the deep-rooted stigma attached to sweeping and cleaning remains. The attitude towards sweepers and cleaners in offices, schools, colleges and areas of general interaction has not changed.
We should realise that every job is equally important and has the same value and respect. The important point to be remembered is that sweeping or cleaning is not a symbol of lowliness or inferiority.
Arjun R. Shankar,
Bending forward disproportionately, touching one’s feet, speaking from a respectable and mostly inaudible distance and removing the head-gear and holding it in hand are all considered a show of reverence. Indians are known for sycophancy of the highest order.
Our bureaucrats and corporate bosses relish the company of “yes-men.” During the feudal days, special groups of flatterers existed. Political forums in India showcase the most creative expressions of subservience.
The credit or discredit for “sweeping” goes to the former President, Zail Singh, who said that he was ready to take the broom and sweep the floor if Indira Gandhi asked him to do so. The echoing of a similar statement by another Congressman is no surprise considering the culture of sycophancy and servility prevailing in the party. Some people are ready to crawl when asked to bend by their bosses and leaders.
Sycophancy is nothing new in the Congress. It reached its pinnacle under Indira Gandhi. The “sweeping of floor” statement by the Chhattisgarh Congress leader is indeed a way of grabbing the high command’s attention. It is not a social stigma when it is political.