They could well be disconnecting and are definitely discriminatory! I am referring to the seemingly artificial and lifeless ‘IT Parks’. One of them houses the office I’ve been working at for some years now. Such a contrast to most of Bengaluru’s suburbs where I always see life. Find charm and feel welcome.
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In most of these exclusive business hubs, water and electricity are consumed excessively and the bushes are pruned unnaturally. People must ‘identify’ themselves everyday, every time and the authorities can suddenly decide to restrict entry to only private vehicles with company stickers or those driven by badge bearing employees. In these IT Parks many (sometimes including myself) mostly talk shop. Most of us spend their days in malls and multiplexes without thinking twice before wasting food or paper. It is at these times that I feel this to be a world where people are unreal.
Do the semi/low/unskilled workers in these IT Parks feel the same? Do they enjoy the same leisure or luxury like us? It is interesting but painful to see the body language of some of the autorickshaw drivers, janitors and labourers especially if they are first timers there or rare visitors. This seems like a new world to them. One that is getting more sanitised and isolated than it was. Some have even asked me about what kind of work do we do inside these ‘Parks’.
One morning, a seemingly reticent and middle aged autorickshaw driver and I exchanged thoughts on the futility of the increased security checks there. "Bade rayees log hee sab kuch karvate hain aur bach bhi jaate hain," he said. He meant only the elite can afford to ensure security is in place and feel safe. I believe that the sheer waste of energy (both human and automobile) and time is obvious and avoidable. And often wonder about the stress, strains and safety of the grim faced and armed, uniformed personnel whose presence makes many people feel uneasy and constrained.
I regularly notice umpteen workers sweeping the entrance to this ‘exclusive’ area even at 8.30 PM with minimal protection from the weather and the dust. The person whom I asked about this seemed delighted that I cared. He replied as a matter of fact, "Duty, madam". They apparently work for 12 hours each in two shifts with a three hour break. Initially they all like the glamour of a smart uniform and a ‘posh’ work environment. But as private contract workers, they lack job security or other benefits like health insurance, pension fund and so on.
A security officer who often spent her short break in the ladies’ room agonising in pain revealed the harsh realities of her profession-standing for nearly 12 consecutive hours everyday with minimal breaks. No paid medical leave. Little paid leave. Only one day off weekly. Job rotation extremely difficult and could result in ouster and unemployment. Little recognition and reward. Janitorial staff are confined to the sparsely ventilated restrooms for eight to nine hours except during their strict timed lunch breaks.
Yet, all workers are very dutiful. And never let anyone break or bypass the rules. Even if their lives are at stake. Like the time when one of my arrogant colleagues refused to take the designated exit and started driving in the wrong direction despite polite requests by security officers, followed by obstruction by one of them. Although he saw a truck approaching his way!
Is all this necessary? If yes, aren’t we partly or at least indirectly responsible for creating it? The divide. The disparity. Denying many fellow citizens rights and other things vital to basic living. Not speaking to or standing up for whom life is a daily challenge. The ensuing frustration. And the resulting dissent and disorder. ⊕