HAD NEVER SEEN SOCIAL PARITY IN INDIA LIKE THIS!

I had never seen social parity at this level, here in India, before this current phase that is undoing many historical stereotypes.

Being a media professional, I was aware of it since the moment it began, but it is only today that I got the first hand experience.

But before that, let’s be clear about it – that social parity basically applies to them who form the majority of our society – except out upper middles classes and elites (including some VIPism folks from the lower middle class). So this time also it is going to be about this ‘majority’. Like always, the other folks are never in this rate-race.

I had to go the Delhi airport today and I had only Rs. 500 notes in my wallet and some change that accounted for around Rs. 200. So, in spites of having a loaded purse, I was literally impoverished – to the hilt – because the airport ride needed anything around 500-1000 bucks depending on the mode of transport I would choose.

Okay, I could have gone the cashless way but there was this desperate urge to try the Delhi Metro route hoping that I would be able to get at least some change for my Rs. 500 notes. So there I was.

But to my dismay I found there (at Delhi Metro stations) sympathetic customer care executives or nonchalant cash counters but not the problem of my solution. And soon whatever change I had was gone.

And I was not alone. There were multitudes. How I came out of this quagmire is a story for another day. Today it is basically about the social parity this sudden move by the Government of India has brought where all the biggies have suddenly become commoners like us – at least for the stuff that they need cash to trade for – like in transportation or petrol pumps or for buying the stuff of daily usage like milk or grocery items. Now you can use your Rs. 500 or Rs. 1000 notes at many places but the problem is even those places are running dry.

So, all of a sudden, uniformity can be seen among masses thronging our roads or streets. Those having millions or those barely surviving on their salaries or daily earnings, they all can be seen in ATM or bank queues. I appreciate AIIMS for this sort of culture – in spite of having loads of people from VIP fulcrum or staff-linkages, a man flashing his latest iPhone model can be seen in same queue waiting for his turn along with the man who kills his waiting hours by playing with the buttons of basic feature phone.

If we leave some of the super-elite aside (after all, in every democratic society, a class like this always exists – after all, history needs to preserve its elements, even if it is elitism and VIPism), all in the society looked on an open platform today which had no extensions to offer.

They all are talking of the similar pains (and gains).

So, even if everyone was flashing his Rs. 500 or Rs. 1000 note, it meant nothing to the guy sitting on the other side. And it is the story of the whole country.

It was like – either everyone was victim – or everyone was perpetrator – though the victim corollary works better here.

It is like you have all – and you have nothing.

Everyone was looking in a similar social hue today – in fact has been looking like this since November 8 when prime minister Narendra Modi suddenly announced that the biggies of our currency flow would become unwanted existences post midnight.

©SantoshChaubey

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: OUR SYSTEM IS BUSY COMPARTMENTALIZING US..

Ideally, politics of democracies like India which have mixed cultural environment (socialist + capitalist), strives for a class-less society – at least the political rhetoric largely says and still tries to go (though the corresponding acts do not support).

But we live in an environment, in a society, where class is a reality, where sub-classes are seen as natural as the human existence, where society is layered between caste, religion and income disparities.

Yes, a capitalist transformation of policymaking and economy was indeed the need of the day to address the innate problems of the world’s largest democracy and the second most populous country that was also home to the majority of poor in the world.

And it has helped people to transcend barriers of caste and thus social status to graduate to any category their capacity allows them to. But the share is still small like the share of inter-caste and inter-religious weddings – almost non-existent when seen in the context of around 1.25 billion people strong Indian community.

Alternatively, it has caused deepening of the layered structure of our society – based on income disparity – based on the sociological slicer – the widening gap between haves and have-nots.

And the easiest way to realize it is having a look on how our modes of public transportation work – in terms of handling passengers.

Start with buses – and you have buses poorly kept and managed that carry the largest number of people from our society – people who can afford these buses only. Graduate many steps higher and one can see some air-conditioned buses plying on the roads. These buses, though internally as shabbily managed as their poor non-ac counterparts, are much less in number because authorities know very few people can afford them or prefer to afford them. Then come at the top the luxury air-conditioned buses – like the Volvo bus services. Very few, from well-to-do class of society, who cannot manage a train ticket or who still cannot afford a flight ticket (for different reasons), opt for these.

Similar is the story of India’s lifeline – trains run by Indian Railways. People from the lowest strata of the society fight for an elusive berth or some hard-earned place in general class, unreserved compartments of trains. Those who are still financially weaker enough to afford the ac-class tickets (including Gharib Raths), choose for some relief in reserved tickets of the sleeper class. And these two categories of coaches carry the maximum number of people – in the overall passenger traffic of Indian Railways.

Then comes the ac-class. It has classes and sub-classes. It starts with Gharib Raths for the poorest of the lot who opt to go for an ac ride. Then comes the numbers of ac-3, ac-2 and ac-1, in increasing scale of cost and therefore comfort levels. Most ac-preferring guys go with ac-3 (three tier air-conditioned class). Types of trains also discriminate here. Express trains cost less than super-fast trains while Shatabdi and Rajdhani trains are considered cream of the bunch. In fact, ac-1 of Rajdhani trains proves costly than an economy flight ticket when taken well in advance.

But the class story extends to airlines as well – most visible in segregation of budget airlines from full service carriers.

Budget airlines or no-frills airlines have made it possible for people to consider flying who can afford ac train travel. But customer satisfaction and customer comfort are the last items on priority list of these carriers. How passengers are cramped in these aircrafts is an issue of global debate.

And even many full service carriers behave insensitively towards the needs of the economy class passengers. Although they make the bulk of the bookings, the crew is more leaned in catering to the needs of the so-called premiere class or executive class or business class or first class passengers. Normally, these tickets are priced almost three-times to an economy class ticket.

Then there are sub-subclasses within the economy subclass. Many budget airlines and full service carriers segregate passengers based on their paying capacity or preferences into different categories – those paying for a lower package – those paying for a higher package – and those paying for an even higher package. And this one is worse than all because the discriminated passengers are made to sit a larger unitary space that is more or less uniform.

Our system is busy compartmentalizing us – based on our income status.

And we have no other way but to be and to become part of this system.

Yes, every type of exception does exist – but then – an exception is always ‘exceptional’.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

SOME CANNOT AFFORD EVEN THE BASIC TREATMENTS WHILE BUREAUCRATS AND POLITICIANS ENJOY THE LARGESSE

Today’s Indian Express had this news that should make us numb if we claim to be the civilized human beings.

In Assam’s Nalbari district, on Monday (September 23), a couple with their nine-month old daughter jumped into the Brahmaputra River as they could not afford the treatment cost of their daughter who had a hole in her heart. The body of woman has been recovered while father and daughter are yet to be traced. The wife was 28 and the husband 32.

It is futile to discuss and write on why the couple had to take this unthinkable decision. Ending life is no solution and such acts can never be endorsed by a sane mind. But it is equally true no one else can understand the excruciating pain the couple was going through.

How cruel circumstances can become? How ironical life can be?

Or we should say how ironical life has been made out to be – life of poverty stricken Indians and life of those who are supposed to reach-out, help-out and bring these poverty-stricken people out of their misery.

This irony reflects in a recent development.

Earlier this month, the government of India, the bunch of people elected by the ‘people’ including the millions of the poverty-stricken with an expected responsibility to bring the poverty-stricken people out of poverty, decided to divert a proportion of the scarce public funds to make overseas treatment costs free for the IAS (Indian Administrative Service), IPS (Indian Police Service) and the Indian Forest Service officers. Until now, only Members of Parliament and IFS (Indian Foreign Service) officers were extended this largesse. And there is no upper ceiling to this.

It sucks. Isn’t it parasitic?

Is this a democracy for?

Millions cannot afford even the treatment for the common fever and here, some are being treated so exclusively. When people have to travel for kilometers to reach a hospital (that is poorly equipped in most cases), why to send these fellows abroad on public money and that too, when almost every possible treatment is available in India? Why splurge, why waste, when the doctor-to-population ratio still remains critically low in India, a physician density of 6.5 per 10,000 of population against the global average of 14.2?

Why so?

Remember what the Preamble of the world’s most extensive Constitution says?

WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a _1[SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC] and to secure to all its citizens:

JUSTICE, social, economic and political;

LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;

EQUALITY of status and of opportunity;

and to promote among them all

FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the _2[unity and integrity of the Nation];

IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this twenty-sixth day of November, 1949, do HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION.

Yes, we, the citizens of India – but what this India is?

India of a few rich and the poor India of hundreds of millions?

Was it envisioned so 64 years ago?

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

LIFE BLED LIVING BLASPHEMED

A PHOTOGRAPHY SERIES

Making a human life so miserable that it itself forgets it was born human is a sin that has no parallel.

Pushing a human life to such extremes that it starts believing in a life beyond resurrection is a sin that has become an epidemic.

Religion or no religion, science or no science, logic or no logic, faith or no faith, the Creation is driven by a System and for those who believe in God or an Almighty running this System, it is no less than Blasphemy to subject the fellow human beings to such a debasement, such a contempt and such a discrimination, forcing them to extreme exploitation.

If one believes in the concept of God, one must believe in the fundamentals of his Creation the founding principles of which say He is in us all, that we all come from Him and go to Him and that we all are equal in His eyes.

How can we colour our lives while our acts make some other lives blanched?

How can we call Humanity His creation when we don’t respect His values behind His Creation?

How can we live peacefully when we see a life bleeding?

If any act is blasphemous then it is this.

LIFE BLED, LIVING BLASPHEMED – a themed photography series over these concerns, the concerns that symbolize a HUMANITY BLANCHED

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

LIFE BLED LIVING BLASPHEMED – HUMANITY BLANCHED

LIFE BLED LIVING BLASPHEMED - HUMANITY BLANCHED

LIFE BLED LIVING BLASPHEMED

HUMANITY BLANCHED

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©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/