The Great Indian Leveller

S Radha Prathi, Bengaluru, April 30, 2015, DHNS:

When my tailor handed over my stitched clothes a fortnight after the set deadline, the veil was missing. Without batting an eyelid, he gave me another which belonged to somebody else, which complimented my dress perfectly. He said he would call when he found mine and till such time, I could use the substitute. When I rejected his idea, he actually frowned. I would only take what belonged to me like the Aesopian woodcutter.

When I shared this incident with a friend whose family sells electric equipment, she consolingly disclosed that people in their trade use tube lights, bulbs and other such items which can be repacked without causing suspicion for some time before selling them.
These incidents set me thinking. Most conversations in the Indian sub continent reflect a sense of righteous anger that pervades us as we condemn various social, political, economic and ecological issues that haunt us day after day. If an outsider heard our conversations, he/she is likely to think that we are brigades of knights in shining armours in mufti all set to clean up the world.

Alas! The truth is otherwise. The common man who waxes eloquently about the dishonesty of politicians, bureaucracy and the system at large seldom realises that he too constitutes and contributes to the big, bad ugly society that we are talking about. It is clearly the case of the pot calling the kettle black!

Picture these everyday scenes in our lives! Sellers of greens have no qualms about meticulously adding weeds in the little bundles to negate possible losses. Most vendors do not use standard weights and measures. Some spas and massage centres which promise weight loss on the fast track use weighing machines which evaluate you as marginally heavier before they treat you and other scales which show you to be a tad lighter post therapy.

Schools, colleges and universities are known for their penchant to undervalue the efforts and performances of students during the academic year and being overly generous while promoting candidates mostly because it fulfills their purpose of showing a higher percentage of results. The media hypes or sweeps news under the carpet based on their equations with the people involved in the affair.

People jump queues everywhere, issue invalid cheques to buy time, never return valuable books that are borrowed, usurp seats in public transports and theatres, fix exorbitant working lunches, use exclusive workplace facilities indiscriminately as if it is their birthright, some even profess different age, qualification, remuneration, etc. in official and social circles – the list is endless. Each one of us is most definitely contributing to the mayhem. It is time to remember that charity begins at home when we aspire to clean up the Aegean stables.

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