Though “Lockdown” was declared as the Collins Dictionary’s word for the year 2020, the terms “productivity” and “skills” are the ones that have lately been extensively used anywhere and everywhere.
These terms have been used to such a degree that teenagers and college-going students instinctively began enrolling themselves into online skill-based courses such as learning the art of resume building, developing an excellent command over Microsoft Excel, acing at Business Communication, Graphic Designing, Ethical Hacking, Web Development, etc. Well, most of them apparently register just for the sake of acquiring certifications, not paying any heed to their areas of interests, oblivious to the fact if it is their cup of tea.
With the blow of the COVID-19 pandemic to the world and thereby the soaring levels of unemployment, skill development undoubtedly became one of the most important criteria in order to remain employable in a highly uncertain and dynamic environment of the post covid era. But that mustn’t propagate the idea that those who are skilled are way more valuable or superior than those who are unskilled or semi-skilled. The need of the hour is to introduce the idea of ‘dignity of labour’ among the young blood of our nation from the very beginning of their lives.
The parents of today’s young minds belong to generation X, which was born at a time when most of the Indian households earned a very low income, owing to very little urbanization and industrialization. The Indian economy was still trying to come on track in the 1960s-70s. India was tackling multitudinous economic problems and social issues in the post-independence era.
The constant companion and helper one could have 24/7, was no else except oneself. The concept of hiring domestic helpers was not prevalent, barring a few percent of households who could afford to put them on the payroll for carrying out the daily activities of washing dishes, brooming, sweeping, dusting, etc.
Laying the table thrice a day, watering plants and pulling out weeds, taking care of one’s pet and its needs, making one’s own bed right after waking up, keeping one’s wardrobe/closet organized and tidy, sharing responsibilities when there are guests home, lending a helping hand to one’s mother and grandmother in their daily chores, maintaining cleanliness and hygiene in the washrooms, dusting once a week the different items off in one’s room ranging from ceiling fans to study table, washing one’s dishes after every meal, getting to the terrace and rendering it devoid of litter and tons of other such activities were actively carried out by our parents in their early years of life as teenagers.
But this is in striking contrast to the activities which the teenagers of the 21st century are indulged in, especially the ones who belong to that social and economic stratum where everything is offered or rather spoon-fed on a platter.
These tech-savvy adolescents, barring those teens whose parents have made sure that their children are not bereft of moral principles, ethical values, and etiquettes, are actually dwelling in a world of illusion. They have little idea about the opportunity cost that has been incurred in providing them with the quality of life that they are leading today by virtue of their parent’s struggles and the pivotal role played by the society as a whole.
Today, the house helpers, butlers, gardeners, cleaners, sweepers, chauffeurs, watchmen, laundress, caregivers, nannies, baby sitters, valets, security guards, and so forth and so on, are those uncelebrated heroes of our community without whom the upper middle class and elite section of society cannot undertake successful endeavours smoothly and steadily so as to chase materialistic things in life.
It is indeed beyond the realms of our imagination to think about the circumstances under which they are compelled to take up such errands in order to fulfill the role of sole breadwinners of their households. The innumerable tasks and duties that they discharge require them to develop it as a skill by constantly striving hard to give their best shot at their workplace. They carry out their work diligently and try their best to serve their masters.
So, in the process of nurturing kids and sowing the seeds of broad-mindedness in their heads, it is crucial on the parts of teachers and parents to ensure that their hearts develop the sensitivity to understand that no work is beneath their dignity and must respect every individual, irrespective of their occupation.
Whenever a student from any school or institution passes any examination with the brightest flying colours, the feat of success attained is not only an outcome of the student’s hard work, his/her parents’ investment in time, money, and efforts, but also a result of uninterrupted service rendered by all the heroic members of our community ranging from the auto/cab driver who took him/her to tuition classes, the house helpers, street cleaners to school bus conductors, security guards of the residency in charge of ensuring safety where one lives, etc.
Generation X parents were born at a time when they had to scrub their gritty clothes themselves with the help of a brush and detergent. They wrung them out by trying to squeeze every inch of water from the drenched cleaned cloth by virtue of simultaneous twisting movement of both their hands. Then they were let to sway in the air over the cloth drying wire in the sunlight during the day.
Today, we have fully automatic washing machines at our disposal to complete this “huge task”, though getting them out by ourselves to let them dry is one act that remains constant in middle-class households. The generation Z kids would never have any such episodes in their digitally equipped lives where the soapy smell would dominate their hands, for most of the day, their palms possess the metallic odor of digital gadgets.
It is high time that we youngsters keep our apparent body parts aside and reduce screen time in order to spare invaluable time which actually slips away from our hands by having their fingers constantly held by the fetters of their man-made master. It is imperative for them to understand the larger aspects of life which actually go a long way and matter significantly in both professional and personal arenas of life as one moves forward in life. The least we can do for all the unacknowledged workmen and women is revere them and their jobs with a big smile on our faces.
Let us together resolve to bring up a generation where a man or a woman doing hard physical work is as respected as an individual solving complex mathematical equations, possessing the technical skills of operating on a computer system etc.