The Classes in the Masses

As I sat watching the telecast of popular talent hunt show, ‘India’s Got Talent’, I couldn’t help but wonder at the flourish and color that the participants brought on to the stage. The same stage on which a gymnast and a group of contemporary dancers- both get a chance to showcase their respective talents brilliantly. A certain Prince Group caught my attention. Having qualified for the semi-finals, the group choreographed a spectacular piece ahead of Independence Day. The performance was resplendent with human formations which were absolutely impeccable, with the dancers painted in the tri-color format of orange, white and green. What left me astounded though was the sheer symbolism of the act- simple, yet multi-layered.

It was only at the end that I became aware of Prince Group’s whereabouts. A group hailing from Orissa, these untrained men wanted to participate in a talent show to show the people of India that small-towners too can avail opportunities such as these to showcase their talent. And that’s not all. Turns out, this is a group of laborers- yes, the very same who hold shovels and manage bricks by the day- who got together to live a dream. A dream to push the limits of their identity outside class constraint.

Which brings me to talk about the prevailing stereotypes that exist in society even today. 62 years since India achieved Independence, yet the shackles of class categorization remains to be one of the biggest oppressors of progress. Equality, as it were, never attained its true meaning. The Utopian ‘classless society’ never found the light in the day. A student of the social sciences would be quick to point out to you the fact that in society; the rules of the game are laid down by the classes which determine the material forces of society, i.e. the “well-to-do” classes. These are the classes who rule the ideologies and determine the consciousness of the society in that era. I need not provide instances, but the trend of focusing on the “aam-aadmi”, which our political parties are at pains to achieve, actually took shape in the realization that yes, our country needs overhauling, for which the seeds need to be sown at grass- root level. Yet, a country like ours fails to break away from a hackneyed mindset. How many of us are comfortable in moving around people from the working class? There is a certain tone and a certain outlook one adopts when dealing with the driver or maid. It isn’t new- and it is no longer seen as ‘unjust’. These are traits which are now more innate than adopted. Yet, the psychology of a society operates with the self knowledge of the oppressor and the oppressed.

Historically, this psychosis is known to have developed into the world’s greatest catastrophes. The awareness of class-superiority among the ruling classes has always resulted in some of the most unjustifiable inflictions on the lower classes. It is the creation of the subordinate that helps create a sense of superiority in turn. And this is true for all types of discriminations- class, gender, race or caste. However, our major concern rests with the Marxist view of a classless society, which I believe is the key to uniform progress.

We need in India the participation of all classes in determining and prioritizing the interests of the nation. And I see in this reality show a beginning, no matter how insignificant it seems to anyone at this point in time. If indeed all the world’s a stage, then we need every man to play his part. And if indeed the stage I referred to in the opening lines of my article allows for a group of laborers and a troupe of trained musicians to showcase what they’ve got simultaneously, I am sure the translation of the same at a macrocosmic scale would render similar success stories.

And India at 62 has many a struggles ahead, en route to freedom.

Ankita Kanwar

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