Saturday, June 18, 2011

Racism in South Bombay

My parents live in a seemingly swanky South Bombay building. But amidst all its 'progressive' propaganda lies more than a hint of racism.

The sign-age put up above my lifts in Sagar Sangeet in Colaba in the six months since I last visited:
Lift 1: "Residents and Guests"
Lift 2: "Residents and Guests"
Lift 3: "Luggage, Servants, and Suppliers"

So let's get this straight: The same people who take care of your children, wash your cars, clean your house, run your errands, and cook your food are too ??? to travel in the same lift as you?

Yes, I'm lost for words.

We might as well say, yes, of course, we condone the caste system (or what it turned into). Please wake up now, today, not tomorrow, but today, now.

4 comments:

MARIA JOÃO said...

india is growing so much, in so many ways, but these fundamental things, like the discrimination between castes, women rights, etc etc, are still going on like in the old conservative days...and without the mentality changing, all the other grown things will look superficial and a façade, i think

scratchpost said...

ego is rising maria. don't fully understand why but feel it all around me (for the past five years at least). there's always still hope :) there's always still the sun.

MARIA JOÃO said...

sure, the sun rises everyday, so : )

scratchpost said...

By KS:

J

I did a little digging around, and I learn that your building is not unique in its segregation policy; in fact, the trend is quite rampant in other parts of south mumbai such as Haji Ali and Peddar Road. Apparently, service goods and servants have been using the same lift, which is different from that used by the residents. In some cases, it started as a precautionary measure because several old people residing in south mumbai were being targeted for their wealth by their own servants or care-takers. Not that an additional lift would prevent anything, but it at least keeps a tab on the servants entering and exiting the building and enables the building security to keep a tab on the servant (apparently, they have number or photo IDs and all) because they have the same entry/exit points.
Additionally, residents in that area are more likely to have a problem with an ogling servant, a stinking servant, blah blah. These are all inputs from media guys/senior journalists in Mumbai.

You should consider doing the following

You need to figure out what is the reason for your colony to adopt the segregation policy.
Second, you need to check if the servants have a problem with this policy.
Third, (if they have a problem) draft an online/offline petition that gathers support to "test" a better solution as opposed to segregation (from within your colony). It would be great if you could get the support of your servants as well (I mean, if this is supported by the servants as well as the residents, majority at least).
If there are NGOs nearby, working in the area if social-inequality and injustice, check if they are aware and see what they are doing to address this, or how common this is. Chances are that you are wrong or biased in your opinion. Maybe this is the best solution that everyone agrees to, for the safety of the servants and the residents.
If your colony accepts your proposal to reconsider this policy, draft a release congratulating them on taking the initiative. See if you can get this across to any local media beat. Positive reinforcement is likely to work better in ensuring action.
If they reject your proposal for reconsideration, and if your servants have a problem, you should connect the servants with the NGO. Your job then is to gather support within your colony. At no point, should you decide to go directly against your colony. Definitely don't write negatively, express your impression of them as "racists."