By Aamina Fayaz
Dignity of labour is having respect and valuing every work and all types of professions. It suggests not looking down upon any profession or the person doing the work. Unfortunately, this term is not taken seriously. The concept of dignity of labour has remained confined to papers only. It is not practically employed by people in their lives and is not implemented in the society. People are not educated on the importance of every work or labour, be it masonry, sanitation jobs, cobblers, doctors, professors etc. It is true that after a lot of struggles and sacrifices, people become doctors and engineers and whatever good they do for the society is to be acknowledged nonetheless. But, people of professions such as a sweeper, a cobbles, a vegetable vendor, a baker, etc., are not to be treated as “plebeians”.
People and communities are not aware of the relevant roles the aforesaid play in order to keep the society together. Even if they know it, they still do not want to count them as part of their society. These so-called lowly people are what make Earth a liveable place. Absence of these professions would mean a filthy and a miserable place to dwell in. To top it all up, the professions treated as ‘the-jobs-for-the-lowly-people’ have pulled the beam down as compared to the blue and white-collar jobs and businesses alike.
A “watul” plays a pivotal role in the society for its wellness. Being a sweeper or a cleaner, he keeps the society clean. The waste management and sanitation control is managed by them. Without these people, the survival of people belonging to every caste is next to impossible. Still people treat them as untouchables and don’t prefer to sit with them. If we talk about the bakers, known as “kandur” in Kashmiri, people would not relish the delectable “chochwear” and “girde”. The “nun chai” is incomplete without either of these two breads.
The lower-castes are not given the respect they deserve. Being a person from the man-made lower-caste group because of the caste hierarchy is not justified as every person plays a role relevant to him and the society he lives in. People prejudge them on the basis of their caste, status and their jobs seeing as the job they do is “dirty and disgusting”. They don’t treat them as important yet they know that without them, their survival is futile. There is filth in the minds of the people and not in those professions tagged as ignoble as every role performed by anyone is a necessity. No profession is more honourable than the other but when done with honesty, humility and with compassion.
The difference between upper-caste and lower-caste is not justified because of their professions and community lifestyles. Personally, each community creates boundaries to keep away from these “filthy and lowly” people due to which these communities are caged. This puts them in a situation in which they don’t want to be. Making someone feel bad about their own existence and damaging their self-esteem is not a humane thing to do. On the contrary, encouraging and acknowledging the work they do and valuing their dignity would be taken as a holistic approach in terms of dealing with people.
The concept about dignity of labour should be taken seriously. Educating everyone on taking care of the sensitivity of others and embedding in them the ability to jump in the boots of others, in other words, being empathetic when dealing with them is a first and a must step to take. People should be made aware about the value of every labour and respect of every person, irrespective of their professions. This will help people understand, accept, acknowledge and welcome these communities as they are. Being a good human is not that difficult, it is doable.