Sell one’s suffering to destroy another’s dignity

Empathy and compassion are found in abundant quantities all over the virtual places. Back when my mind started learning about the happenings around us when I was a teenager, this empathy and compassion affected me a lot and my thought process. It is easy to mould a hollow and innocent mind into any shape, and my mind, like any other teenagers, was so vulnerable for manipulation.

Newspapers, movies, politicians, social activists, teachers and parents have been preaching, discussing and empathizing about farmers cause in our country. The distress of farmers in the form of bad loans, failed crops, suicides were bombarding my brain all the time. Every politician talks about farmers and every political party rallies behind farmers. As a result, I developed empathy and compassion towards farmers more than what the millennial generation had towards them.

Farmers are in distress. I agree. Indian economy and the majority of India’s livelihood is heavily reliant on agriculture even today. However, that has been a significant concern since Independence, for the past 70 years. Why does the problem still exist? If agriculture has been under distress for this long, with new challenges cropping up every year, the problem is not with monsoons or banks or landlords, but with our decision making and spineless policymakers.

I am not going to deal with agriculture, farmers, economy and public policy here. I want to talk about a highly misunderstood and heavily assaulted characteristic of a human — the dignity of a job.

The constant bashing and ridicule I have seen in recent times are against the jobs and the employees in MNCs. Movies and social media are to blame for developing this phenomenon. The protagonist or a character in the film leaves agriculture to join an MNC in a metro city, and there will be another character in another movie, who, after lots of motivation and enlightenment, leaves his boring and spineless MNC job to do agriculture. The narration is developed on this premise, and the common thing in both the stories is, every idiot lectures about agriculture and farmers, and downplays the current job he is in right then.

I have a severe problem with this kind of ideas. It seriously hurts the dignity of a job. It is becoming more offensive against urban employees.

Farmers are shown as Gods in distress. I agree with that. But, MNC employees are treated as hopeless people. I do not see it this way. Every one of us had made our choice. Working as an employee in an organization was a decision we made out of many options we had, whereas few people opted to do farming in spite of many hurdles on their way, and I deeply respect them.

There is dignity in every job. Street sweepers, municipal workers, drivers, doctors, engineers, technicians, mechanics, police and CEOs are entitled to the dignity of a job. We do what we are doing to feed our families. There is nothing offensive in that.

I was in a movie theatre yesterday watching a stupid scene (in Suriya’s NGK) where the protagonist explains(ridicules) the typical characteristics(sufferings) of a corporate job, which mostly involves just sitting before a computer for hours, to justify his choice for opting organic farming as a career. With mild scorn on my face, I looked around at the audience anticipating claps and cheers, and they did. The same MNC employees whose jobs are being ridiculed in the movie in favour of agriculture were enjoying the assault and the degradation of their dignity at a swanky multiplex in the IT Corridor of Chennai. There are many movies and social media posts before NGK, where an MNC job is looked down cheaply.

I am not from an agriculture background, and my parents didn’t involve themselves much in this sector, and I was brought up in an academic environment. So, I didn’t get the groove of farming and didn’t experience the atmosphere in a farmer’s house. However, I never insulted any farmer, and many of my friends and colleagues are from farming families, and I respect them a lot. They show lots of love to me every time I visit their house. Honestly, they are wealthier than my family.

Today’s social media and movies are talking too much about agriculture and ignoring the actual ground level links each sector has among them. There is suffering in every economic sector, including services and industries. We bring only agriculture suffering into the core narrative point in our movie, a social media post, and a news debate to earn crores in revenue and gain popularity. Exploiting the suffering has become a business in the form of entertainment. Unfortunately, we created a price for suffering, and we want it not to go away, lest we might lose the value created by it. So, farmers are still suffering only to be exploited by us to our gains, at the cost of the personal dignity of urban jobs.

If we decide to leave farming and go for a job in urban areas, there is nothing wrong with it. It signifies our intent to care about our life and family. Any job we do to feed our family is good, and it is always dignified. If we ridicule, laugh and comment about the jobs in the urban area to claim that being a farmer is the supreme job, it shows immaturity and complete lack of wisdom, if not arrogance.

A farmer and a corporate employee, both of them deserve dignity. Any country needs both of them.

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