Life presents an increasingly level playing field to the modern-era citizens. Gone are the days when social hierarchies prevailed and those in positions of power dominated people.
The Indian burrah sahib who used to flaunt his three-piece suit and appear pompous to the junta is almost non-existent today. The class divide has diminished a lot. The haves may have become richer but the have-nots have gained in confidence to up-scale their lives through verve and resourcefulness. The mall culture is the greatest evidence. The guy behind you in the popcorn queue at the movie theatre may be the housemaid’s son. The young man and his girlfriend at the next table at McDonald’s could be from the slums. The manager of the upmarket fine-dining restaurant (that one can afford to visit only once a year) may be the gardener’s nephew.
The slick MBA youth trying to sell you a holiday could be from any strata of society and almost certainly not from one of the elite B-schools. Retail-driven economy and the social media have narrowed distance between people and made India almost a land of equal opportunities, with only a few ageold disparities left. The level playing fields show up wherever one goes, in whatever one does.
Showbiz doesn’t guarantee the old hero worship and circumstances have sobered the typical north Indian show-off. A friend request on Facebook from my former driver, I must admit, threw me aback! I was reminded of a television advertisement that featured a chauffeur with a more gleaming visage than his ‘sahib’ one morning, his smooth shave no doubt the result of the product being advertised.
There is little these days to tell people apart. Marriages between individuals from disparate castes and backgrounds are turning out to be happy. Liaisons of other kind are coming up in business and relationships. The lad who dreams of playing Test cricket is uninhibited by the fetters of poverty. Team India boys come from the vast rural plains of Uttar Pradesh and even swanky, upmarket locales of New Delhi.
The disadvantaged youth have proved to be sturdier, more talented athletes than their urban counterparts. A look at the country’s Rio Olympics line-up will give you the evidence. Feudal society remains only in pockets. It take centuries to bring any significant change in social mores held for aeons but change is happening indeed.
The electronic media and the internet, reviled for being distracting and frivolous, have aided this trend of equalisation. What diminishes our chances of success usually is the lack of awareness and field insight, a problem that technology has solved. No chasm now hinders the hinterland girl from the remotest part. If she has self-belief, she has all her goals.