Small miseries

All the cleaning works in the hostel are done by the contract workers. These hostel ‘ammas’ deem it absolutely essential to clean the hostel ground (the cement quadrangle, mind you, not just the tiled floor) – scrape, scratch every speck of mud and empty the water tank and leave the hostel water-less. They pack their bags and leave at 4pm. I’m the one who faces a dry toilet when I come back to hostel at night. They even keep rubbing the steps, hoping to make them shine perhaps (I wonder if they are competing to make Rohini win the ‘cleanest hostel’ award). If you protest, they claim there’s water and so they are doing it. If you protest vehemently, they say you must speak to the supervisor. So you go hunting for the supervisor, who’d be twirling her thumbs in some corner of the hostel. She agrees to halt it and asks you to write a letter, stating why you stopped them from doing their ‘duty’.

This was just one day. I haven’t stopped them after that. How do you convince them you only want a decently clean hostel and not a sparkling clean one, at the cost of already scarce water?

I sight no cobweb on my door and the paint is fresh. Yet cleaning my room door from the outside has suddenly become vital for their survival – it’s among their list of ‘duties’. When I hear a maid scraping outside my door at 8 or 9 in the morning – door knob and latch rattling, feet shuffling – removing imaginary dirt, I must tune myself to become deaf. I must ignore the urge to open the door and ask her to go clean some other door and leave me in peace. I wonder if the new contract workers’ workload has been increased to make the worker’s or student’s life more miserable.

At least the contract workers work; the permanent employees bask in sunshine. When I ask, I’m told that the hostel office has told them to ‘just come and sit in the hostel and do nothing’. So you see them bathing, eating, chatting; and they get twice the stipend that a final year PhD student does.

Another mounting irritation is things that go missing. What do the maids do with the mugs in the toilets after cleaning them? Take it home? I suppose, since I use the toilets, it’s my solemn duty to go chasing after the maids, asking her, in my broken Kannada, where the mugs are. After every bout of cleaning, I must threaten to complain to the hostel office and then the mugs will be kept back in place. Fortunately, my friend and I take turns at this so I have someone to share the burden.

The maids (especially the permanent workers) have a habit of conveniently bathing in the hostel. The time they take to finish the job is many fold that of an average student. On days when there’s water in only one bathroom, if you find an ‘amma’ inside it, you feel like breaking the door. To cap this, they wash their clothes in gallons of water and the amma’s daughter and grand-daughter also bathe here.

My tolerance valve burst when one day I found my bucket missing. I went looking for an ‘amma’ and asked her if she knew what had happened to it (there are no secrets between them). She said some amma had taken it. I said I wanted to bathe and wanted it back. She called out some name and that person answered from inside the bathroom saying she’ll give it soon. I went livid – the gall of the woman! Does she have no better job here than bathe? And is this why the institute employs her? Like a brawling fisherwoman, I fumed and ranted at her, demanding my bucket back. After a few minutes of losing my temper, energy, time, she put out a hand and let my bucket out. This time I did complain to the supervisor.

I suppose I must adopt the ‘chalta hai’ attitude and move on. Who cares how much water is wasted? If there’s no water, just complain to hostel office and fret and fume when nothing happens. Why let the maids’ new unnecessary duties and misbehaviour bother you? You’ll get used to it. After all, they say, even sitting on nails can become a habit.

Smrithi Murthy (MRDG), with inputs from Monisha Bhattacharya (CES)

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About The Voices team

Like it says, The Voices team, IISc, Bengaluru, India

Posted on July 5, 2010, in Regular issues and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 35 Comments.

  1. PRIVATE INDIVIDUAL TAX PAYER

    anyway all the PRIVATE INDIVIDUALS are being TAXED Heavily for such WASTAGES of Waters which is FREE or either Highly SUBSIDISED 😦

    and if LEFTISTS dont want “Ammas” to CLEAN and WASTE water.. they themselves can Clean instead of those “Ammas” and let those “Ammas’ Sit peacefully and not PRIVATE individuals !!

    (wud that really matter if these Ammas along with there LEFTIST Supporters Waste PRIVATE INDIVIDUALS Money, Resources or some other RICH guy siphons off that amount of water, money?? )

  2. PRIVATE INDIVIDUAL TAX PAYER

    an Interruption by PRIVATE INDIVIDUAL TAX-payer 😛

    anyway all the PRIVATE INDIVIDUALS are being TAXED Heavily for such WASTAGE of Waters which is FREE or either Highly SUBSIDISED 😦
    and if LEFTISTS dont want “Ammas” to CLEAN and WASTE water.. they themselves can Clean instead of those “Ammas” and let those “Ammas’ Sit peacefully and not PRIVATE individuals !!

    (wud that really matter if these Ammas along with there LEFTIST Supporters Waste PRIVATE INDIVIDUALS Money, Resources or

  3. Subrata Chakrabarti

    Dear Editor-in-chief,

    This article is relevant and contextual since it talks about the times we live in.Having said that it is pertinent to mention here that the topic does not belong to the class and category to warrant inputs from fellow writers.The piece was co authored by three writers. Much more informative pieces of work gets penned down by single writers. Here Ph d students of a premier institute like IISc are seen debating about toilet mugs and buckets.If you have lost yours’ please go get one. Please give us all a break and let the workers do their job.Kindly do not infringe on their duties. On the contrary imagine the situation when cleaning gets stopped and we have stinking toilets and unhyegenic surroundings. Please focus and concentrate on more germane issues confronting your topic of research;or else if you have certain light hearted anecdotes to share we will be happy to hear more from you.Finally the editor should use his discretion to decide on the print worthiness of a piece of write up.It’s about time that we stopped calling anything and everything an ” article”.

  4. Deepak Paramashivan Kaundinya

    @Prathamesh

    The word irregardless is wrong English.A passionate writer like you should pay attention to these minute details as well.

    http://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/1237227-Irregardless-Misappropriation

  5. Incidentally, the main author (Smrithi) is also a voices team member. The voices bylaws mention that the members are supposed to “strictly adhere to the basic ethics of journalism”. I suppose one of the ethics is to look at all sides of an issue. As some poster has asked, did the author(s) even try to find out the reasons for the cleaning ladies’ actions? Does she actually know what their salary is? And the tone of the whole article is against a ‘class’ of workers, not against any individual worker.

    Why exactly was such a juvenile article selected for publication? It portrays a dismal picture about the maturity level of the voices editorial team.

    • Deepak Paramashivan Kaundinya

      @Prathamesh: You did not have to write so many elaborate comments to sound funny. Looks like you have an obdurate passion to write. May I request you to kindly write a thought provoking article on the “harmful effects of smoking”. It may be useful in the future to people who belong to none other than your own CLASS, who create nuisance by smoking in public (even after repeated requests not to smoke). I wonder how a person who himself is no paragon of virtues can talk about the rights of a CLASS of people. This is sheer hypocrisy and double standards.
      siva

      • @DPK,

        Thanks for the certificate on moral character. It shall be treasured.

        I promise to begin my next comment after bathing in Ganges.

        With regards to smoking, please stay away from smokers if it annoys you or file a police complaint since it is an offense to smoke in a public place in India.

        Do you know that the air pollution levels in Bangalore are comparable to smoking five cigarettes a day. Not much of that is due to people actually smoking. How about putting your energies behind that instead?

        Or do you know how opium cultivation and commercial production in many parts of the globe were stopped to promote tobacco. How about campaigning to legalise marijuana to provide people, a healthier alternative to smoking?

    • I don’t see any classist sentiments in the article. In fact, the article portrays the workers as extremely diligent in their duties (even if too diligent), which’s a feather in the workers’ caps – for they’re conscientious in a world where people do their best to shirk work. (An ‘amma’ reading the article would consider it high praise indeed.) I think it’s the prejudice in the minds of certain readers that makes them interpret the words according to their convenience – they’re trying so hard to read in between the lines when there’s nothing there. I think the communists are barking up the wrong tree.

    • I think all the statements in the article should be considered in the context in which they’re written and not in isolation. You can’t pick a sentence and think it indicates what you think it does, for the sake of an argument. You could rather try to understand what is being pointed out. Please remove your ‘class’-tinted glasses and peruse the article with ordinary glasses before you pass judgement.

      Para 1 begins with ‘All the cleaning works in the hostel are done by the contract workers’ and the next few paragraphs illustrate this. Para 4 describes the idle life of permanent workers. (‘The permanent employees bask in sunshine ……they get twice the stipend that a final year PhD student does’)

      This obviously indicates the unfairness of the pay-schemes. If you don’t believe, walk into Rohini and ask the contract and permanent workers what they receive per month. The former get a pittance of 4000 while the latter, a luxury of 30,000. The author has unambiguously indicated the difference between the two kinds of workers.

      The sentence ‘I wonder if the new contract workers’ workload has been increased to make the worker’s or student’s life more miserable’ clearly indicates that the author believes unnecessary chores are being given to the contract workers and commiserates them. I would say that that’s a plea to reduce the workload of these workers.

      Any person is a student first and a member of a group later, therefore he or she has a right to voice personal grievances and opinions as much as anyone else. The ‘disclaimer’ clearly states that only the ‘editorial’ reflects opinions of the team and for all the other articles, the responsibility lies solely with the authors.

      The tone of the article is obviously satire and if anything else is perceived, it’s in the mind of the reader and not in the article itself. You say that the article is against a class of workers and not against any individual worker. Had individual workers been named, there would have been criticism for unkindness to particular workers and for putting their jobs in jeopardy. In the present situation, the author merely asks for modifications in the chores assigned to workers so that least amount of water is consumed; and a command by people in authority to the workers, against using students’ belongings. (If you think they should be allowed to use students’ belongings, that’s your opinion, which you’re entitled to hold, just like I’m entitled to hold any opinion, even if it contradicts yours. Your freedom ends where mine begins.)

      Where in the article is any statement indicating class-bias? Do you mean to say that if you call a worker a ‘worker’, you insult them? Only people who consider it degrading to be a worker would find any insult in the word.

      • ‘The former get a pittance of 4000 while the latter, a luxury of 30,000. The author has unambiguously indicated the difference between the two kinds of workers.’

        But I don’t think she appeared any disturbed about inequality in wages in the article(even if it was her intention) , as much as the fact that permanent workers get reasonably high salaries. Why not crib about inequalities arising due to new exploitative -contract instead, Instead of expressing envy at permanent workers salaries. Or even better, how about asking the institute to bargain to improve contract workers wages.

        ‘(If you think they should be allowed to use students’ belongings, that’s your opinion, which you’re entitled to hold, just like I’m entitled to hold any opinion, even if it contradicts yours. Your freedom ends where mine begins.)

        But in the sphere of action, one needs to make a choice, and one cannot criminalise or stigmatise something as silly as borrowing buckets.

        Freedom of opinion, is a nice idea as long as the freedom is restricted only to opinions. Precisely what the system does.

        😉

        “Had individual workers been named, there would have been criticism for unkindness to particular workers and for putting their jobs in jeopardy.”

        How about just using worker X, Y or Z. Or making up names and putting a disclaimer that names have been changed. But giving a referring to the body of workers at large by using largest possible general categories, without specifying that your grievances are against particular workers, is not the way to go about. That just sounds like a bad excuse.

        ‘Where in the article is any statement indicating class-bias? Do you mean to say that if you call a worker a ‘worker’, you insult them?’

        You are inferring too much. She just did’nt name a category as workers but blamed the entire class of workers after identifying that the groups she is talking about is a group of workers.

        That need not be an overt class bias. But did reflect an attitude aimed at seeking a solution but rather of accusation.

        • TheHeartlessCapitalist

          Dude, really, move on.

        • PRIVATE INDIVIDUAL TAX PAYER

          anyway all the PRIVATE INDIVIDUALS are being TAXED Heavily for such WASTAGES of Waters which is FREE or either Highly SUBSIDISED 😦

          and if LEFTISTS dont want “Ammas” to CLEAN and WASTE water.. they themselves can Clean instead of those “Ammas” and let those “Ammas’ Sit peacefully and not Waste Money, Resources of PRIVATE individuals who wud hav Paid TAXES !!

          (wud that really make any difference to PRIVATE INDIIVIDUAL Tax Payers if these Ammas along with there LEFTIST Supporters Waste PRIVATE INDIVIDUALS Money, Resources or some other RICH guy siphons off that amount of water, money?? or some Poor guy breaks PUBLIC TAP and starts wasting gallons of water??)

    • ‘Does she actually know what their salary is?’

      You mean to say the author doesn’t know? Then she must have a wonderful imagination, to have cooked it up! On what basis do you make such a comment?

      On what basis do you say the article is juvenile?

      You can’t always expect people to say what you want to hear, my boy. If you can’t accept an alternative opinion without feeling outrage, think again about who is being juvenile. It’s extremely immature to argue against a person, rather than to a point.

  6. even if the issue is a real one, and this article has been written with an intention to resolve the issue, the tone of the article does not indicate it at all. i think that the article has been written in real bad taste. complaining to a supervisor can lead to loss of the workers’ jobs, while waiting for your bucket or mug or water, or bathroom for some time is not going to harm you to that extent. i think that people at this age should not exhibit such juvenile behaviour.

  7. Aren’t we losing track of the basic fact that the ‘misused’ bucket was not taken from a locked room. Isn’t it a little too much to expect the system to prevent ‘misuse’ of private goods that are left in a publicly accessible place?

    Granted the experience of losing ones bucket for a short period must be traumatic enough to justify the article. Perhaps I could suggest something the men do in their hostels on a regular basis as a remedy. Keep your stuff in your rooms under lock and key.

    Getting back to the problem of the ‘bathing ammas’.
    Is is not a fact that the “Ammas” in the ladies hostels actually do laundry jobs for the students. Something which I am sure is not mentioned in the agreement with the contracting agency. Once you bar entry to the Ammas to the bathrooms, which is where I assume the washing of clothes take place, then where will it be done. Would all the ladies in the hostels be willing to give up the comforts of the laundry-at-your-doorstep system that is in place now?

    @Madhavi, hope you will take action against the washing Ammas also.

    There is no rule that says that only students can bathe in the hostels. If that were to become the case, then the visitors and guests who stay overnight would really have a tough time. If an exception is made for the guests, maybe the evil-ammas will get innovative and become guest-ammas of students willing to accommodate them.

    Having some experience of how the system works, here’s my 2 cents (paisa if you must). A lot of words are going to be exchanged, nothing much will change in reality. We do not have enough security for the sandal wood trees and the hostels at the same time in this place. Can’t really imagine where they get security personnel to post outside the bathrooms to catch the occasional offending amma.

    About the article itself, the reference to the income levels was avoidable. It doesn’t strengthen the argument being made in any case and only serves to reveal the mindset (welcome to some, unwelcome to some) of the writer which might prejudice a reader. Additionally it causes a loss of focus on the issue at hand thereby possibly defeating the very purpose of the article.

    • Well, the first floor balconies are closed but the ground-floor ones are open, so does that mean it’s public property? The hostel office should probably build a wall around them, in that case.

      It’s obvious that you do not stay in Rohini, for then you’d know that these ammas don’t do the washing any more. We have a separate maid who does the washing.

      Why do we pay 50 rs per day for a guest if everyone can freely use the resources? Why do we pay a fee for the hostel at all?

      The monetary issue was mentioned for the permanent workers, who, I repeat, have no assigned duties. It’s the contract workers who do all the work. There was a great rivalry between the permanent and the contract workers; the former never do any work yet hide phenyl bottles to make life difficult for the contract workers. This has changed since the new contract workers, with their own supervisor came into picture. I don’t think it’s right of the government to hire people to stroll in Rohini at the taxpayer’s expense.

      • “Why do we pay 50 rs per day for a guest if everyone can freely use the resources? Why do we pay a fee for the hostel at all?”

        That does not hide the fact that it is heavily subsidised. Infact you just pay around 1/5th of what the actual market price of using facilities on this campus would be. If you insist on right to use according to the fees paid, I would suggest you to start paying market prices for every facility you use on campus. Including the internet.

        “I don’t think it’s right of the government to hire people to stroll in Rohini at the taxpayer’s expense.”

        Taxpayer;s expense has become a common phrase in day to day currency among members of a certain class, who obviously never thought it through to realise that the phrase does’nt make sense.

        1) Taxes are’nt an act of charity, that people pay out of their own volition. If is a compulsion and if refuses to abide bysomeone who can pay taxes does not, then it is a criminal offence under Indian Penal Code.
        2)Once the taxes are paid, it no longer belongs to the taxpayers as much as your stipend does not belong to IISc, once you receive it.
        3) Money raised by the state in form of taxes, are meant for public spending largely for the sake of those who do NOT pay taxes, because they can’t afford to. Most indians belong to the latter category.
        4) If taxpayers actually start dictating terms to government about hwo the money should be spent, it would only lead to skewed economic policies that benefit the taxpaying class over the rest.

        As far as employement is concerned, employement generation is an important feature of the state. Since you brought in the point of ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ in government spending, I think you need to be educated about keynasian economic paradigm.

        According to The General Theory Of Employement, Interest and Money by John Maynard Keynes, a fundamental task of the state is to generate employement(irregardless of the productivity – like employ two people one of whom can dig a hole and the other can fill it) which in turn will increase spending power of the section, which in turn will act as a stimulus for markets thus generating further income and employement. This economic policy has been a key feature of the revival of US economy post great depression of 1930’s.

        Most public sector enterprises in India, like Indian Railways are an example of this economic policy with emphasis on employement generation.

        IISc as a public funded organisation, also bears a responsibility to generate employement irregardless of the productivity.

        Fault lies with IISc and hostel office, if they cannot find suitable ways of keeping them occupied while being employed. I don’t think you can blame them.

        Nor can you blame the contract workers because most likely they are merely following orders by their superiors. Try negotiating with the higher authorities in that firm instead.

        Even if you don’t buy any of above arguments, there are far greater ways the public money is being wasted, like internet facilities for students, residence for former directors on campus and stipends for students(its not state’s responsibility to educate you), and ofcourse the printing charges for this stupid article which comes out of public funding or even the internet use. Even most of the facilities we enjoy like the gymkhana grounds and billiards table are maintained at public expense, for which we pay a nominal sum. I have;nt even started talking about the government subsidy to the rich in form of tax cuts, and other doles. A lot of money that went into IPL came from public spending.
        The money that is spent in employement generation is far too little than what is spend in form of corporate doles and bureaucratic lifestyles.

  8. Pink Army (with a shade of red)

    Prathamaesh I am with you comrade.
    Let’s make a naxalite union (ummm…let’s call it Ammas Military Mobilisation Against Students)
    And march into Rohini with AMMAs’chai-drank-cups and force every one of the classist, bourgeoise, capitalist, discriminatory, elitist, high browed, toffee-nosed snobs drink from them.
    HAIL MAO!

  9. Prathamaesh I am with you comrade.
    Let’s make a naxalite union (ummm…let’s call it Ammas Military Mobilisation Against Students–A.M.M.A.S.)
    And march into Rohini with AMMAs’chai-drank-cups and force every one of the classist, bourgeoise, capitalist, discriminatory, elitist, high browed, toffee-nosed snobs drink from them.
    HAIL MAO!

  10. Is it the birth right of students alone to take a bath in the hostels? I think the underlying sense of entitlement is disturbing to say the least.

    They are not paid to have a bath in the hostels, but as far as I know, the hostels are being funded by the state and not by the students, which makes it some sort of a public amenity, with a few restrictions.

    I tihnk some sensitivity to members of classes other than their own might not be a bad idea.

    • When water is scarce, is it right to bathe with 5 buckets of water? Is the usage of students’ buckets, mugs, shampoos etc. by ammas, without bothering to seek their permission, right? I have never seen any student treat the ammas with disrespect……but I think we have to draw a line between exercising rights and taking undue advantages.

      • “have never seen any student treat the ammas with disrespect”
        You make it sound like you are doing a favour to them.How many students would share a chai in the same cup with an amma if the occasion arises?

        I’m not sure where you get your statistics about five buckets of water.

        Even if they consume more water to bathe than an average IISc student its justified if you regard it as a professional necessity , especially if you take into account the the dirt and dust they deal in the course of their day to day jobs. I don’t think students have any birth right over the bathrooms or toilets in IISc. Water to bathe in such circumstances is a matter of right and not an undue advantage.

        I think this is just an excuse to mask subtle class prejudices. Why else would a statement like , “they get paid twice as much as our stipends figure.”
        I’ve never heard such a statement being used for students or faculty member even if they are’nt exactly productive in terms of output.
        Or is it just prejudiced discomfort at sharing a bathroom with maids?

        • It’s funny how you pick up only those points aginst which you can argue……you very conveniently did not comment on the fact that mugs, buckets, shampoos etc. are taken, used and consumed without even taking permission of the owners. And I’m truly shocked at your justifying the water wastage…..there are times when even drinking water is not available in the hostels.

          And I don’t think anywhere in the article or in the follow-up comments was the ‘class prejudice’ even hinted at. We all are educated people and know how to treat people. Part of our education has been to treat people whose work puts dirt under their fingernails with even more respect. The argument is just about the judicious use of limited resources.

        • I acknowledge that the issue at hand is ammas wasting water. However, I must give a point-wise reply to all that Prathhamesh has posted:

          1.”Is it the birth right of students alone to take a bath in the hostels? I think the underlying sense of entitlement is disturbing to say the least.”
          Exactly what is disturbing about our sense of entitlement? We work for it, we pay our fees, we took the IISc entrance exam.
          The ammas can claim the same benefits, provided they are ‘entitled’ to them. Prove to me that they are.

          2. “You make it sound like you are doing a favour to them.How many students would share a chai in the same cup with an amma if the occasion arises?
          I’m not sure where you get your statistics about five buckets of water.”
          Does one only extend respect to another human being out of a sense of favour? May be that’s the only reason YOU would show respect to another person.
          How do you know that we would not share chai with an amma if the occasion arose? Where do you get YOUR statistics? Do not jump to conclusions without any evidence.

          3. You argue that the ammas use more water than the average student because it is a professional necessity. Here are your baseless assumptions:
          a) All the ammas who use excess water to bathe, have in the first place indeed gotten dirty cleaning the hostel.
          b) Using more water means getting off more dirt.
          c)They are entitled to do so.

          What you write next in the same paragraph is so paradoxical that I must quote it:
          “I don’t think students have any ‘BIRTH RIGHT’ over the bathrooms or toilets in IISc. Water to bathe in such circumstances is a matter of ‘RIGHT’ and not an undue advantage.”
          I set off the two usages of the word ‘right’ to mark out the contradiction (and the class prejudice).

          4. “I’ve never heard such a statement being used for students or faculty member even if they aren’t exactly productive in terms of output.”
          Assumptions. Assumptions.
          Prathamesh, it really is YOU who is trying to infuse class politics into the issue. Why haven’t you commented on the ammas swindling hostel buckets (wait! that is not government property, it must be an entitlement).

          Go practice your demagogy somewhere else. People like you give communism a bad name.

          • ‘Just because some of us can read and write and do a little math , that does’nt mean we deserve to conquer the universe.’
            Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

            1.”Is it the birth right of students alone to take a bath in the hostels? I think the underlying sense of entitlement is disturbing to say the least.”
            Exactly what is disturbing about our sense of entitlement? We work for it, we pay our fees, we took the IISc entrance exam.
            The ammas can claim the same benefits, provided they are ‘entitled’ to them. Prove to me that they are.”

            How much fees do you pay? Do you really want to calculate the market worth of the facilities we enjoy in this insitution? Much of it is subsidised heavily by the government. The hostel fees we pay is pittance when you compare it to the cost of living in bangalore. Since you are availing of a public subsidiy, its no longer a matter of private property.

            How does clearing an entrance exam entitle one the sole right to use a bathroom? Sorry, but thats a megalomaniac’s sense of entitlement.

            I don’t think anything in IISc rule book suggests something to that effect.Its not as if they don’t work for IISc, in a direct or indirect fashion.

            I personally don’t believe in right to private property, but I’ll spare the larger debate here.

            “How do you know that we would not share chai with an amma if the occasion arose? Where do you get YOUR statistics? Do not jump to conclusions without any evidence.”

            I just gave a possible set of reasons. Since the accusation is being made by the author, its her prerogative to substantiate the fact that they are getting arbit trips out of bathing in students hostels and don’t have a good enough reason to do so.
            Anyway, lets have a mixer with employees and students , where students share food in the same plates and drink chai in the same cups. Lets see how many would be willing to shed their class and caste prejudices.

            “I don’t think students have any ‘BIRTH RIGHT’ over the bathrooms or toilets in IISc. Water to bathe in such circumstances is a matter of ‘RIGHT’ and not an undue advantage.”

            Do you want me to explain that I meant students don’t have the sole right and others have a right to bathe there too?

            Or is that too difficult for you to comprehend Or do you want to sign up for a 101 course in logic?

            “Why haven’t you commented on the ammas swindling hostel buckets (wait! that is not government property, it must be an entitlement).”

            ‘Private property is theft’.
            -Proudhan

            I’m sure they did’nt steal it from the rooms when the rooms were open. Most possible they just used them. Do you need a course in sociology to understand that sense of ethics including the classifying objects as for ‘private use’ or ‘public use’ varies with regards to class , region and even individuals.For that matter even the sense of ethics is usually class, community and region specific.

            In parts of India and even among middle classes, its common to use others property without seeking their permission and among the middle classes it is usually regarded as a measure of their pro. In parts and more so in western europe, its considered impolite and infact unethical to use objects without permission.

            Among the lower classes at large(do you want me to quote sources to substantiate this?), because of the usual pressures of resource shortage they go through, the division between common and private property is not too rigid especially with regards to things like buckets, which can be reused by the owner.

            Its a little stupid if in the course of your interactions with them, you only expect them to abide by your sense of ethics, without understanding their ethical criterion into question.

            In the current setup, I don’t think even they steal, its not much of an issue.But then thats a tangent I don’t want to get into.

            There is nothing in the world that is without its sense of politics, not even science. There are underlying assumptions with regards to the statements that are made. Its these assumptions and the framework from where these assumptions operate that I’m trying to challenge as much as the remarks made.

            And as far as I understand, this article does not seem to target specific individuals responsible for the acts, but treats them as a member of the class and talks about the problem by identifying the profession and not the specific individuals, with or without the authors intentions. This is couched in the language of class divide, whether one seeks to politicise or wants to read into it.

            How does talking about class politics or insensitivity makes someone a communist?
            Is it the prerogative of communists alone to talk about class politics? Why are you so concerned about the name of communism?
            (Do you even know what marxism is? apart from some school textbooks definitions?)

            What bothers me is the complete absence of dialogue or even the need for it? Did the author try to find out why the bathe here? Whether they get water where they live? Whether they are doing this in absence of other services that IISc could possible provide? Like a bucket reserved for maids and other employees in the bathrooms.

            I did’nt even bother talking about all the other irrelevant comments made here, which I could take apart. Like couching it in the garb of water shortage. Do you want me to talk about resource consumption by upper and middle class which leads to the global resource shortage(want sources again?) and leads to socio-economic pressures among the lower classes. People commenting here are as much a product of their classes, as much as their identity as a student of IISc and the maids can equally hold us responsible for water shortage at their homes(most lower class colonies are more badly hit than IISc during periods of water shortage), if given a voice.

            Or do the students of IISc produce their own resources that we don’t need to give a damn about the rest of the world where these contract workers come from or what compels them to act the way they do?

            • @Aditi:
              “We all are educated people and know how to treat people. Part of our education has been to treat people whose work puts dirt under their fingernails with even more respect. The argument is just about the judicious use of limited resources.”

              So you mean to suggest that people with education know to treat members of the other class and people without education perhaps might not be. Sorry but thats a class-ist assumption in itself. I can point out enough counterexamples to invalidate your thesis.

              With regards to judicious use of resources, refer to my point above.

              • Please see the highlighted words, and tell me who is being class-ist……


                “We all are educated people and know how to treat PEOPLE. Part of our education has been to treat PEOPLE whose work puts dirt under their fingernails with even more respect. The argument is just about the judicious use of limited resources.”

                “So you mean to suggest that people with education know to treat MEMBERS OF THE OTHER CLASS and people without education perhaps might not be. Sorry but thats a CLASS-IST ASSUMPTION in itself.”

                P.S. : “The aim of education is the knowledge, not of facts, but of values.”
                — William S. Boroughs

                • Class is a reality, and people do treat members of other classes differently. [I wonder if the author of this article would ever scream and fume like a brawling fisherwoman at her guide, if he borrowed something without her permission].
                  Thats a social fact, irregardless of your denial.
                  I don’t see how acknowledgement of that fact leads to class-ism.

                  But trying to brush away these cruel realities and pretending that members of a class which has access to tools of learning,reading and writing knows how to treat everyone is a statement of class-ism.

                  I’m sure Burrough spoke about a certain ideal of education, but that ideal has nothing to do with practice of formal education in Indian context.Precisely why the ‘elite institutions’ are also the hotbed of regressive values and politics like anti reservation campaigns.

            • ‘Private property is theft’

              Oh, I didn’t know that!
              In that case, am I right in guessing that you’re room is barren? You must have given your chair to the poor security guard who was sitting on a broken one; and you must have given your table to the poor worker in your hostel who badly needed one. If the hostel authorities ask you what you’ve done with them, I suppose you must tell them that the furniture didn’t belong to the hostel in the first place – there is no such thing as private property, after all. Since the government pays for them (they are the ones who subsidize hostel amenities) and the government of India belongs to all Indians, the people whom you helped had as much right to the furniture as the hostel authorities; if not more.

        • You think if a student doesn’t work, it is accepted? He has to give seminars and presentations. If he’s wholly unproductive, he’s thrown out of the institute. I don’t think idling is forgiven in any profession – student or worker, though there might be a few who get away with it.

  11. Thank God we don’t have such cleaners in new boys hostel! Although they are not very good, they are acceptably good.

    I hope that with repeated complaints, you get better service in general. It will be good if you ask Students’ Council (All the names published in the same voices issue :)) to raise this issue during advisory meeting.

  12. Just want to inform Smrithi and other students that your voice is heard and action will be taken against those ‘ammas’ bathing in hostels.

    • Hear, hear Arunita! The Paradox you pointed out in your latter reply was very funny.
      Thanks Madhavi for taking action.

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