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March of the Evil Empires!
English versus the feudal languages!!
Anchor 1
First drafted in 1989. First online edition around 2000
It is foretold! The torrential flow of inexorable destiny!
Part 2 - Delineation of a feudal language nation
16. Dignity of labour

One of the causalities of feudal language in a society is dignity of labour. There is no general sense of dignity to any labour, which mainly involves physical labour. Proponents of these languages have then argued with me that in their languages, each work has a dignity consistent with its social status, and thus they also have dignity. Though I have not been able to make any sense of what they have clearly meant, it does seem that each sort of labour has a dignity, which is in a hierarchical position to so many others. It may be true that different type of labour have different levels of attractions, and also repellents. However, in a feudal language, the person who does any type of labour is affected by the level of the labour. In other words, any type of work, which is having a lower level, will affect all the social attributes of the person who does it, negatively.

It is a fact that in India one has to be very careful of the types of work one is doing. For, there are lower type of work, and even businesses, which if you are involved in, can catch you by your throat and fling you to the depths of the society. It has nothing to do with the English concept of honest and honourable labour. For, even if your labour is dishonest and dishonourable, you will be ‘respected’ if you are the master of it, have a lot of subordinates and you make a lot of money.

In the Indian feudal language conditions, usually many jobs that makes you sit behind a chair and tell others to do things is ‘honourable’. Any job that involves you to listen to another man’s directions is generally of a ‘dishonourable’ category. But then, it may be understood that this is all relative; to the level of persons who are socially monitoring and measuring.

There are businesses, which are socially inferior. They generally include such businesses as of vegetables, fish etc. Again, this is a generalisation, and there are broad exceptions everywhere. The main reason why they are considered to be low is because of the social level of the people who are usually involved in these items. Yet, it may be remembered that many rich and socially powerful persons are also involved in these activities, on a large scale. And they control the vast herd of socially and financially vulnerable human beings, with the hammer that is the feudal language.

To put it briefly, dignity of labour is absent in India. Once you are educated, you do not want to do any physical work, where another person would boss over you. It is not that you do not like doing the work. Possibly in solitude and for oneself, one would do the job with much liking. However once you do the same job for another, the language distinctly discriminates. It emphasises your lesser position. In the English-speaking world, any decent young student would utilise his spare time to earn some hard cash, by working in construction sites, or in a hotel, collect the pay and walk off happily without much fuss. However not in India. Here a decent, young man would dare dream of doing such a thing only under the severest of unfortunate circumstances. For, it would be a nuisance not only to himself, but also his superiors and work colleagues in the work area. He himself would not enjoy the experience. For the type of persons who do the work there would also be different.

Again I must emphasise that here I mean the vernacular areas, and not the English speaking social circles, or the Five Star Hotels.

Many jobs, which were traditionally considered undignified, became worthy ones with the coming of the English language and allied systems. Generally, sales job is considered by traditional India to be comparable with something really undignified. In the English context, the dignity of sales improved tremendously. Earlier times, there were many salespersons who were good in English, and they did keep the sales jobs at a good social level. Yet, with the entry of vernacular language in sales, and it becoming the major means of sales communication, the stature of sales has again come down in many areas. Even when the sales person uses English, the vernacular usage of Sar, Madam, Madamji, and such usage as Antony Sar, has made the atmosphere, more or less, vernacular.

It is a fact that it is very difficult to get good, high calibre, educated sales persons in small towns and small cities of India. Maybe the big, well-reputed firms might get them. Others of small stature would find it difficult to get them. So, there is a cunning strategy they do adopt to ensnare persons of quality into this field. They advertise not for salesmen, but for Management Trainees. In many cases, it does the trick, yet as a long-term technique, it may fail. And then one needs to find a better enticing word.

NOTE: This was written many years ago. There have been a lot of changes in the scene, since then.

This I am stating about a country where there is a hue and cry of no employment opportunity. The employment opportunity that everyone wants is that of government employment, with all its frills. So, it may be understood that the service industry on which the employment generating potential of America exists, is not a very attractive proposition over here. Many service-oriented jobs, which are attractive in an English environment, come with a great deal of suffocating social lowliness in India. It remains as one of the reasons for the lack of enough employment for the educated person. They would go for such work if they have a degree, diploma, or some other exclusive certificate, to tone up their social image.

At the same time, the private service sector small-time businesses, which deal with the common populace, get accumulated with vernacular-speaking persons who generally lack the mindset to distinguish the difference between refined behaviour, and rudeness, especially to the common man.

Sometimes back, I read of young persons, who immigrated to America, declare that they worked in small jobs like Hotel Waiting, dish cleaning etc. there and came up in life. They would also declare with shock of the laziness of the Indians, who don’t have any sense of dignity of labour. I would have liked to see them doing the same thing in a vernacular, small-time hotel in India. At the first word of addressing or reference to them, they would run away. Actually what makes these men such achievers in America is the freedom of doing anything legal, one enjoys in an English language environment.

There won’t be anything wrong, if I may put it here that what makes America tick is its English Heritage. If they grow to disclaim it, it is something that they may not exist to regret.

The Immobility of an employee in a feudal language environment

In every private organisation, in a vernacular-speaking place, the employees build up a social hierarchy, which is in tune with the society at large, but at the same time dependant on the length of time a person has been there. A new person coming into the organisation would find it difficult to find his own level unless his capabilities or the lack of it is very obvious. For, example, a person who is working in a vernacular environment in a private organisation, would with the passing years build up a progressively growing indicant status with regard to the newer staff. In Malayalam, it would be something like a Chettan, Chechi, Sar, Madam etc. that gets suffixed in the person’s name. He would be happy to have this halo. He can function easily with this. The newer staff would also come in lower hierarchy to him. The factor of age helps him to subordinate the younger members. However in bigger organisations, younger managers come in senior positions. They exist beyond this pattern, and they take care to safeguard themselves from this hierarchy, by either using more stringent lower indicant words for the older man, as is discernable in Tamil Nadu; or keep a safe social distance from them as generally seen in Kerala. Both are not very healthy management techniques, yet in the Indian environment, the former is more effective. At this moment, it may be mentioned, possibly before the context has come, the whole basic system of the so-called Indian system of Management is based on the right usage of indicant words to the right level of persons.

At the same time, in small-time vernacular organisations, persons who are senior, mainly by age, dictate terms, and persons who are intelligent and capable, but of lower age would find it very difficult to function. Actually, if an MBA from an elite Business School were to join such highly vernacular organisations, he would find the whole atmosphere stifling. In his desperation to explain his anguish, he may say that the small-town culture is too overwhelming, or that it is not a professional organisation. One may actually bear in mind that the real capability of any professional manager in India, is in being given a position, with the right indicant words to go with it. In this regard, I may say with emphasis that given the right indicant word status, many persons can function, with the equal capacity of a management graduate from the best Business School in India.

Nobody would want to move from one small-time business concern to another, as the same level of respect he or she has built up in the earlier one, may not be forthcoming in the new place.

Now, persons are literally tied down to micro-social systems that exist in each organisation. They can’t move around and work in any place that they want. They can do it briefly, or casually; as their whole personality is tied immovably to their position in the organisation. Though this is a very uncomfortable situation, yet it is understood as a very positive aspect of Indian business world. For, it is understood as loyalty, and as loyalty to the Salt. Yet, there is actually no such loyalty, as such. In the confined social environment, it is the most secure situation. If there were a better situation in the offing, then a person would immediately ditch his loyalty and move to a better environment. However, usually such better options are not common.

I have seen employees using very feudal, respectful, full of homage, higher indicant words about and to their bosses in the presence of the boss, and his other senior associates; and at the same time using very derogatory lower indicant words, about the same persons in their absence, and in informal situations. In other words, all these respect and its allied usage are forced performances and not a natural one. When the aspects that forces one to use them disappear, one’s respect also vanishes.

This is one of the ways a person who is kept in a feudal suppression would try to even out. There are other means, which are all of a negative character.