Saturday, June 6, 2015

Courtesy Crisis

Remember the essay "On Saying Please" by A.G.Gardiner.   I think we had this essay in our 12th grade English and is worth remembering. For those who didn't have this in the syllabus or forgot, please take a few minutes to read it.  It is a nicely written piece on saying please.  Discourtesy exhibited about a hundred years ago in Britain, made A G Gardiner write that essay.  

It has grown to an enormous proportion, here in India that it is obvious to a visitor, who has a balanced opinion of this country.  Watch this video of Tarek Fatah - a Canadian Journalist and broadcaster in which he describes the growing affluence and discourtesy in India.

I do not think we are a very courteous society that includes your truly.  On top of it, there is an inherent hierarchy that gives everyone an impression that they are above ... a few.  No, no, I'm not going to attribute this to the caste or varnas.  Give the power to a few downtrodden and oppressed and see how they behave.  Discourtesy and hierarchy are secular in this country.

I remember there was a buzzer at my father's desk in his office.  He was a manager for a bank's branch in a remote village in Andra Pradeh.  The buzzer was part of the office furniture.  My father found it to be discourteous to call a colleague using that buzzer.  I had never seen him using the buzzer and am sure his colleagues would agree.  He preferred to sit with the rest of the staff in the main area.  The point is, the system thinks it is ok to be discourteous if you are the boss.  Babus (read - anyone with a guaranteed government job) believe they are a notch above the rest that even a bus conductor in a state run bus can be disrespectful to the passengers.

A few decades ago there were a few like my father who believed otherwise and their numbers are dwindling rapidly.

The development all around has raised the economic status of a few people that they can differentiate themselves as superior.  Since they think they are superior, they exhibit their true colors.  Enjoy the following video - starting from 3 minutes 20 seconds.

Also the service sector is expanding.  There is probably more people serving the middle class as unorganized labour than those in organized sectors.  Some of the jobs that are integral to our daily life didn't exist or employed very few, decades ago.  There are security guards, drivers, housekeepers, caregivers, gardeners, salesmen, delivery boys for milk, food, newspaper, courier and what not.  With so many people at our service, we can feel privileged.  To earn their respect, respect them.  To make it a bit easy for them, please be a bit courteous to them - even if they are not perfect.