The Amazing Equalisers of Life

Random Forays by Vivek Atray

Life presents an increasingly level playing field to citizens of the modern era. Gone are the days when hierarchies of society used to prevail and those in positions of power were dominant to the hilt.

The Indian burrah sahib who used to flaunt his three piece suit and appear pompous to the junta is almost non-existent today. The class divide has diminished to a great extent. The ‘haves’ may have become richer but the ‘have-nots’ have gained in confidence and are up-scaling their lives dramatically through sheer verve and resourcefulness.

The Mall culture is the greatest evidence of this. The man standing behind you in the popcorn queue at a movie theatre may be the son of the maid at home. The young man and his girlfriend seated at the next table at Mc Donald’s could be from the slum in the city’s periphery. The manager of the upmarket fine- dining restaurant (which one can frequent only once a year) may be the nephew of the gardener.

The young man who is an MBA and slickly tries to sell a holiday to you could be from any strata of society and almost certainly not from one of the elite B- schools.

The amazing effect of a retail driven economy and the social media phenomenon is that there is hardly any distance left any more between peoples and communities. The impact on India is that it has largely become a land of equal opportunity. Age old disparities have reduced drastically even though they have not yet been wiped out.

The level playing fields of life are thus showing up wherever one goes and whatever one does. One consequence is that those who decide to choose careers which promise pomp and show are no longer guaranteed the sort of adulation that used to be prevalent in earlier times.

That typically North Indian desire for flaunt and taunt still exists in these parts, but has been tempered somewhat by circumstances that promise to bridge all gaps in the social fabric.

When I got a friend request on facebook from a former driver of mine, I must admit that I was rather taken aback! I was reminded of a TV advertisement that showed the driver with a more gleaming visage than his ‘sahib’ one fine morning. His smooth shave was no doubt the result of the shaving cream being advertised!

The point therefore is that there is little that separates different categories of people these days. Inter-caste marriages and those between individuals of hugely disparate backgrounds are happily happening quite frequently. Liaisons of other kinds are palpably evident in business and in relationships as well.

The young lad who dreams of becoming a Test cricketer today is not inhibited by fetters related to his impoverished upbringing. The Indian cricket team consists of boys who could be from the vast rural plains of Uttar Pradesh as much as they could be from swanky upmarket locales of New Delhi.

In fact it is the youth from disadvantaged backgrounds who have proven themselves to be sturdier and more talented sportspersons than their urbane counterparts  in the recent past. One look at the line up of those set to represent India at the Rio Olympics strengthens this argument.

India is thus no longer a feudal society except in pockets where such tendencies still exist. It does take centuries to bring about any significant change in social mores of the sort that our society has held for aeons. But such change is clearly happening and is making its presence felt across the land.

The electronic media and the internet, often reviled for being distracting and frivolous, have actually aided this trend of equalisation. What usually diminishes one’s chances of success in life is lack of awareness and insight into a chosen field.

With the freewheeling barrage of information and knowledge that technology has propelled into our era, there is no longer any chasm that hinders a young girl in the hinterland of a remote part of India.

She can dream just as big as anyone else can. And she can attain all her goals if she simply has that innate belief in herself!

vivek.atray@gmail.com