A Classist Malfunction

Dear Chetan Bhagat,

I am not a fan of your work, but appreciate your views on women in general and concern for the status of Indian women, in particular. Couldn’t agree more with your article on the sleeping Queen that needs to be woken up, but am afraid our like-mindedness ends there!

Today, I am specifically writing about your article on ‘how youth can get their due’, in TOI. I must state upfront, that I write not about the Indian economy or the politics of it. That is best left to economists and analysts and I am neither. What I write about are your social views and your accidental baring of your upper class mindset.

How can you adopt such a condescending tone? What is so wrong with working at a clothes store in a mall? Or waiting at an upscale restaurant? In the US, a country that you want us to emulate, there are plenty of youth waiting on tables and working at retail outlets for decades now, with no shame or embarrassment and no one feeling shame for them. Students work through their college life doing these jobs, funding their existence. Is that wrong or shameful or is it just a hard earned, honest living?

So, if you have to uphold the good things about the US, start with their high dignity of labour and not the minimum wage. Before we become a rich economy, one that can pay our youth more, we need to rid ourselves of the feudal casteist mindset, that is obviously- deeply ingrained in the Indian psyche- that some jobs are small for us and can be done only by lower beings or non-graduates or illiterates, that even you are guilty of possessing.

In this rich economy, that you envisage India will become by voting for a certain party, do you visualize all Indian youth studying in IITs and IIMs and getting 6 figure USD campus placements, in the Fortune 500 list? Of course, we need more and better opportunities for our youth today, but even if the future Indian government was to make some radical changes in the education and the employment scene, create many more premium institutes, privatize more sectors, would all youth have white collar jobs? In this India Mr.Bhagat, who will be waiting at the tables?

So Mr.Bhagat :
Are you saying that waiting at a table is not a respectable enough job? or
Are you saying that waiting at a table is not a respectable enough job for a graduate? or
Are you saying that it is wrong to be a graduate and get paid USD 120 a month? If this is true,
Would it be ok for a graduate to wait at a table if he is getting say, 50K? or
Are you saying that only non – graduates should wait at tables?

As I write, I wonder whose aspirations you are really talking about. Certainly not the steward at the up-scale restaurant you dined in. From your own description, he was perfectly happy waiting at the table and doing a fine job at that. I pray to god, that he hasn’t read your article.


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