New age feudalism

The India government in a rather unpopular move abolished the privy purse in 1971. Basically it was free money being given to the erstwhile royal families who agreed to merge with the Indian Union in 1947. Then there was the Zamindari system which was also about land owners (aristocrats) and land users (commoners). There were many movies made about the Zamindari system and while constitutionally this system was abolished – it continues to this date. You have poor farmers indebted to the land owning zamindar and it’s a form of modern day slavery.

If I say that the corporate world in India and our modern households are feudal, many of you will be upset, but it’s true. At home an affluent family will have a retinue of servants – I know of a family of three that have ten servants, two cooks, two gardeners, three drivers, two maids (24 hour coverage) and an errand boy. The gardens sure look great… But can’t this family do gardening on their own ? Some exercise always helps. The most important person in any modern household is the MAID. No she doesn’t get any special treatment, but without her, the house may not get cleaned, the food may be less tastier, the little one may not get the pram ride, etc etc. I get it, working women in nuclear families need help – husband, children can’t help ??? Why not teach children the value of work and dignity of labour ? Read this article How I made all 12 of my kids could pay for college themselves. Sure, some of the parenting tips maybe difficult to implement, but atleast don’t pamper children :).

I can see many parents reaching for things to throw at me … Let me piss off my colleagues and get beaten up, nice and proper.

The modern Indian executive wants to become a manager quickly and then a leader even more quickly. What are the perks that Indian corporate leaders enjoy ? Pantry boys at their beck and call to bring coffee, tea, Coke, Pepsi, go buy food, fill water etc etc. Why can’t a leader just walk across and fill his/her own cup of coffee/tea ? Along the way, do stop and say hello to colleagues and maybe eat something interesting they might have brought along. Even meeting rooms, need not have silver service, let people get up walk around and pick up what they want to drink and get back. My hypothesis is, the Indian corporate honcho’s health will improve significantly if we ban pantry boys since the docs say “sitting is the new smoking”.

I am guilty of this too, but in the last few months I just stopped asking the pantry boy to refill my flask of green tea. I go get it filled up. The only time I take the pantry boy’s help is when someone comes visiting and wants a cup of coffee … Planning to stop that as well. This feudal attitude extends to many areas, the way we treat people lower down the hierarchy, the whole command control style of leadership is an extension of this feudal attitude. The Zamindars got the poor peasant indebted, today’s managers get the younger colleague indebted – by promoting out of turn, by giving a special bonus, by special deals, and the chain continues unbroken. There are ofcourse genuinely great managers and leaders who are inclusive, great coaches and inspiring corporate heroes, but not many.

Just as we abolished the Zamindari system and the privy purse… We need to let go of our feudal attitude, infact abolish it. Start with your houses, get moving, switch off the TV, mobile and whatsapp, help your spouse with the morning chores and get your children to be more responsible for their piece of work. Get all the children to do housework, teach both boys and girls to cook a little, clean a lot and enjoy physical hard work. I have zero maid attrition because we treat her well and we really can be without her. She has taken off sometimes a couple of days or a week and sometimes a month, but we can happily manage without her.

America is a great country because there is dignity of labour there … Why not ape that since we are anyway aping their way of dressing, the corporate culture, their unhealthy food and even more unhealthier colas ?? Ok I have done enough damage and will shut up now. :):) Abolish feudalism.

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