Friday, June 18, 2010

Two from the Tribe of the Exploited

I feel bad that I had to reject her offer. They walk in, trying to sell something. Don't misunderstand. An aging man also has feelings, unlike what some members of the younger lot forget. When one is deep into the layers of talking, typing, sharing, communicating, one tends to forget that one is also human. She is young, breathtakingly and achingly beautiful, with a vulnerability that sits on her like a second skin. That humane nature appeals to me. She hangs her head, disappointed at my insensitivity, and walks out. I notice she had opened her bill book and was almost writing out the invoice when I said an emphatic "No." Her colleague was all agog expecting me to buy, since I had asked so many questions. But then something struck me as odd. Very odd.

But the offer was to buy a packet of CDs worth Rs 4,000 for just Rs 1,000. By my bad math that's a discount of 75 per cent. Or, is it? How can a company give so much as discounts unless, they have been exploiting someone? Agreed, they have foregone their profit which is 25 per cent, they have written off the cost of the CD which is another 25 per cent. Still the figures don't add up. So, they should be selling at least 50 per cent of the cost of CDs.

So who all have been exploited? Firstly, the girl is being paid almost nothing, I am sure; looking at the big rucksack she is carrying with all the CD packets. Such a beautiful beast of burden for free! Scar her for life by making her a hardened and cynical salesgirl. Then what options does she have in today's India? Work as a call centre executive which is even worse.

We are a country that exploits our young people. What options do they have?

And among the exploited, one other category; the artist, photographs featured on the cover of the CD album. Artists of the floating world. They don't even add up to 25 per cent of the company's funds. Hm. I am sure the artists, talented flautists, vocalists, instrumentalists, have not been paid their dues. Another exploited lot, reviled and left to rot without recognition. I consider myself one of this tribe. Or, am I?

We are a country that exploits our artists. I weep.