The Common Man Myth

The Congress Party (of India) fights for the “Common Man”.
Economic Liberalisation benefits the select few, but not the “Common Man”.
When Coca-Cola and IBM returned to India, in 1993, the question asked was: “How will this benefit the Common Man, who doesn’t even have access to water or electricity?”

Who is this Common Man of India? It’s the same one the CNN types say represent the Real India. The rest of us “better-off” people are all fake Indians you see. Everything we’ve said and done are not the Real India.

That feels good. I go to work, come home, hang out with family & friends, watch TV, make money, but you see, I’m a mirage. I don’t really exist. I epitomise superficiality and nothingness.

In order for me to exist, and be a Real Indian, I have to live in a village. But not just any village. The villages dotting the Highway between Delhi and Chandigarh (National Highway 1) are not Real either. Over there, roads and houses are being built, there are signs for “Sybar Cafey” and “Mobiyal Phone Repair”, the people have clothes to wear, and jobs and other unCommon things.

It has to be a village, where caste discrimination is rife. It has to be a village where the word road means something far away in distant lands. Where electricity is what comes and strikes you during the monsoon season. A village where the girl child is on its way to extinction. Where the villagers have plastic bags for clothes, and branches for weapons, and toilet could easily mean river or hole-in-the-ground.

That is the Real India, and don’t you forget it. God forbid images of air-conditioned cubicles, full of young 20-somethings tapping away at computers, cloud your mind. Or non-skeletal children with smiles on their faces, wanting to be something more than doctors or engineers.

And this is where the Common Man comes in.
How old is the Common Man? Is he young and unemployed?
Where does this Common Man live? In Bihar? Rajasthan? All-over you say? Surely not in the Cities?
What about type of accommodation? Slum? Does that mean anybody who has something remotely resembling a house/flat can be considered unCommon, and Elite? Or do they fall into some netherworld between Common and UnCommon?
What language does the Common Man speak? Hindi? Urdu? Bengali? Oriya? Which one of these languages is common? Hindi might be one of the official languages of the country, but is it the Most Common? Tamils will object (and strongly, I might add). Well we know the Common Man definitely doesn’t speak English, for that is the language of the UnCommon Elites.
What about income? India is a poor country, so therefore, the Commonest Man must be poor. So then is the Common Man just a euphemism for Poor?

Finally, this Common Man…are there no Common Women? Congress Ka Haath, Aam Aadmi Ke Saath (Congress’ Hand, for the Common Man) – what about Aam Aurat? Haven’t we forgotten about Her? The woman who has to kill herself 10 times over to keep mother-in-law and husband happy? Spend 8 hours in line for a clay pot of water in the desert? Or does the Aam Aurat not matter?

So I think I’ve formed a picture of the Common Man of India.
He’s poor (obviously, so Delhi – 14 million people, Bombay – 19 Million People, Bangalore – 3 million People, Chennai – 7 Million People, Calcutta – 7 Million People, Chandigarh – 1 Million People , Hyderbad – 2 Million people, do not represent the Common Man). He can’t get enough to eat (So my servant is not common). He speaks Hindi (So people living in Punjab, Maharashtra, The South, The East, and North East are all uncommon). He can’t read/write (even though 70% of the country is literate). He lives in a village. He’s middle-to-low caste and discriminated against because of it. He can’t be Muslim (140 Million), has to be Hindu (800 Million). He definitely doesn’t own a cellphone (which means plumbers and electricians are not Common Men). He’s harrassed by Policemen, so Policemen aren’t Common Men either…and He’s definitely into agriculture.

So there you have it folks. The Common Man of India, whom most NGOs and a host of Political parties stand for.

I hope the rest of us uncommon people are happy. That means Women, High-Caste people, anyone owning a Cellphone/House/Car/Television, Non-Hindus, English Speakers, Software Engineers, Call-Centre Workers. We’re all nobodies, we don’t represent the Real India. I guess we’re the Shady Underbelly, who operate in the Shadows, in some parallel world.

In a country as diverse as India, There is no such thing as the Common Man. There are however, lots of Common Threads.
We are all Indian, regardless of caste, creed, income, whatever.

So let me make a suggestion: Instead of performing services that benefit this ugly, disgusting stereotype of a Common Man, let’s do things in the Name of India, and Indians.

If there are less poor people on our streets, then as Indians we can all feel proud.
If women are treated more equally and with respect in our country, we can all feel proud.
If everyone in our country has access to clean drinking water, we can all feel proud.

So please. Let’s not do _____ for the Common Man, as it is at the expense of the rest of our Nation.

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One comment

  1. Pingback: The Dance of Democracy, a decade later | Voice From A 2.5-World Country

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