Video Producer: Aparna Singh
Video Editor: Mohd Irshad Alam, Abhishek Sharma
Yeh Jo India Hai Na… Here, there's a very popular line – Aye! Tu janta hai main kaun hoon? Yes, let's talk about PRIVILEGE!
Privilege, which gave an ex-IAS officer and now suspended Jharkhand BJP leader's wife, Seema Patra, the right to allegedly torture her Adivasi house help, Sunita, for years. Keeping her locked up, allegedly beating her with rods, breaking her teeth, reducing her to a mental and physical wreck.
Seema Patra denies the allegations, but we must ask: Does privilege give one human being the right to abuse another in this manner?
Look at how privilege gave Varun Nath, a Gurgaon businessman, the right to repeatedly slap and abuse a security guard named Ashok Kumar and a lift operator after being stuck inside an elevator for a few minutes. In a viral video, we can see that as soon as he got out of the lift, he started hitting the very men who had helped him.
And, here’s privilege again – a Noida-based lawyer Bhavya Rai, abusing and manhandling a security guard, Karan Chaudhary, because he was late in opening the society gate for her car. The ugly incident was filmed by another security guard.
Privilege Violence Is Nothing New
Let's rewind to the year 2017 to understand, ke yeh koyi nayi baat nahi hai. Celebrity singing talent show host Aditya Narayan, in a display of privilege at Raipur airport, took on an Indigo Airlines staffer.
Pattern clear hai! If you are a politician, a relative of a politician, a businessman, or a senior government official, then there's a chance that kabhi haath yah kabhi zubaan, chal hi jaati hai.
And on the receiving end are domestic helps, security guards, society electricians and plumbers, restaurant waiters, hotel staff, delivery executives, cab drivers, and office peons – the list is long.
Many Abuse Linked to Privilege
And if we slightly broaden the idea, and look around, we can see how many more forms of abuse and discrimination in India are linked to privilege.
Most recently, a man identified as Shahrukh Hussain, burnt a minor girl to death in Ranchi. He had been stalking her for over a year. Many stalking cases have ended in tragedy, making news headlines relentlessly. A stark, ugly example of male privilege.
Men assuming it's their privilege to stalk, harass, assault, women into accepting their advances. Even assuming the right to kill them if they refuse.
Male Privilege Prevalent in India
Then, take a look at this statistic from the latest National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data: 32% of the crimes against women in 2021, over 1 lakh cases, were cases of ‘cruelty by husbands’!
Another example of male privilege. Husbands assuming the right to abuse their wives. And 1 lakh is just the number of reported cases, we know domestic violence is far more common.
A customer telling a food delivery service in Hyderabad that they don’t want a Muslim delivery person! Or this – BJP’s Godhra MLA justifying the release of those who gang raped Bilkis Bano because they were ‘sanskari Brahmins’. Or this – an alleged ‘Hindu Rashtra’ constitution released by a group of radical Hindutva sadhus, which had ‘No Voting Rights for Muslims and Christians’ as a key highlight.
To me, these are all unfortunate, glaring examples of ‘majoritarian privilege’. They don’t represent what most Hindus believe, they don’t subscribe to a secular India. But for these few, their privilege as Hindus lies in treating India’s Muslims as second-class citizens.
Surely, it's time for atrocities in the name of privilege to end. But who’s going to take the lead? India’s netas? Yeh Jo India Hai Na… here, our netas are biggest beneficiaries of privilege. Be it dynasty-run parties or parties controlled by leaders who rule unchallenged for years. When privilege trumps merit in politics itself, it's not likely that this ugly P-word will disappear any time soon.