"Age" --- What a great "leveller"!
"Oh, East is East and West is West and never the two shall meet/ Till earth and sky stand presently at God's Great Judgement seat/ But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth/ When two strong men stand face to face, tho' they come from the ends of the earth" --- the concluding stanza of Rudyard Kipling's epic poem "The Ballad of East and West".
In the same vein can an "elite" Nobel Laureate serving as Professor in Harvard University(West) meet at the same platform with a "mere" Group D bank employee of Kolkata (East)! No way as far as glamour social/official position world-wide recognition and personal CV is concerned!
However last Friday's visit to the Central Kolkata bank, which hosts our salary accounts, enabled me to experience a sight involving that Group D employee which instantly transported my mind to a Nobel Laureate settled in far West ie UK!
By appearance, this gentleman is balding and physically vulnerable. Either he is on the verge of retirement or have aged prematurely due to physical/mental adversities. Might have few problems in eyesight as well. Previously he used to sit at a counter and deliver slips and forms according to the demand of the customers. Presently he is in charge of updating the passbooks. Behind a glass screen he sits opposite a computer and performs the job with a bit more time than required, comparatively. Slowly he inputs the number of the account through the keyboard while glancing at the passbook repeatedly. Also he fumbles a bit during the process. However never do I get irritated mentally firstly due to his vulnerability and most importantly due to his gentle nature. Without any loose or impolite talk he is always on his job with humility written on the face.
That day as I reached the corner of the bank to update my passbook, I noticed 4-5 persons in the queue which is the general picture. As I stood on the line at the rear, noticed that the others in the queue are expressing feelings of frustration. Is it because of the comparative slowness of that gentleman ? Then I gathered that there has been some sort of glitch in the computer or it has got "hanged"! And he is trying all sorts of keys with output being nil ! As time passes, frustration of the customers ahead of me were increasing. Some were taking pot shots at the system of the bank.
After all efforts turned futile, the gentleman at the counter stood up and seen to approach the personnel at the adjacent cabin to seek help in resolving the problem. As the vulnerable man got up and was walking towards the adjacent cabin in a limping gait, one of the "valiant" customers remarked with utmost vitriol in his tongue --- "This fellow can't even walk straight. Yet these oldies are occupying the posts, earning huge salaries and assured of life-time pension as well. In contrast no jobs for the youth brigade"! It goes without saying that rest of the people in the surroundings applauded his vitriolic talk without any ifs and buts!
In the meantime the "oldie" returned with a "young colleague" and the latter started to employ his tricks to get the computer "normalised"! My body could have waited further to see whether the computer returns to normal mode and get my passbook updated. But my heart failed to stay there for a single second more in that vitiated environment because of the deluge of the caustic remarks directed at the vulnerable gentleman despite no fault of his (the only consolation remains that thanks to the glass screen acting as the shield, those vulgar rude talks didn't reach his ear)! Yes computer can get "hanged" anytime anywhere and it is not expected (least from a Group D personnel who has been merely taught about the few applications related to updation of accounts) that all will promptly solve it! Yet so churning of poison directed at the vulnerable fellow!
As I was returning, thinking about the growing insensitivity of the society towards the sector of population who are deemed to be weak ! May I know which profession/sector/institution in the whole society form the model of accountability and performance ! As a citizen of the society, do we receive all our dues and entitlement from all quarters ? And most importantly, do we all contribute to our best with utmost honesty and efficiency whatever be our profession --- service business or whatever! But far from demanding accountability from those who are in powerful seats, far from introspecting about one's own contribution to the society; all are engaged in redirecting their frustration and anger towards the vulnerable, more so if they are "oldies"!
Is there any guarantee that all "young" persons can promptly rectify computers if it suffer glitches! Is it a "sin" to get aged ! Aren't the parents of the self-declared youth brigade aged? Will not today's "youth" bound to get aged in future! And it forms the duty of Government to create job openings for the youth; how can one demand a senior employee to voluntarily retire to yield place to new!
Actually a society gets judged by how it treats its elders. And we can get a taste of this society through this very yardstick and this is the exact platform where that Group D gentleman can meet Amartya Sen in absolute equal terms!
For his "sin" of commenting that muscular "Jai Shri Ram" followed by beatings of innocent Muslims do not form the culture of Bengal, Sen has been castigated by BJP leaders through choicest words and abuses. Yes one holds full right to oppose his comments (just like one holds every right to fully support it), but why not such opposition coming through furnishing of logic in a civilised tone! Rather Sen has been attacked in that most vulnerable psychologically-shattering spot ie age! "It's Sir's age speaking, not his mind" --- vitriol of a "young" BJP MP from Bengal! It implies that Sen should "shut up" as he has "lost his mind" because of "age"!
Though that Group D gentleman and Nobel Laureate in Economics Professor Amartya Sen reside at almost opposite end of the earth with zero similarities; yet all differences of Border Birth and Breed get promptly vanished when two aged persons draw the ire of their detractors rendering them to an absolutely equal platform!