• They are not man Fridays, they are dignified labourers with rights

    Sruti M D

    September 10, 2018

    The central paramilitary force that guards India’s borders with Nepal and Bhutan (Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB)) has recently implemented a programme called "Man Friday". The aim of this programme is to produce “multi-talented” domestic help who can cook, clean, drive, provide first aid, handle laundry, bank work and much more. It aims to train boys and girls (though it is called "Man" Friday) from villages in border areas and regions that have been under the Maoist influence.

    While the skill development programme is a good way to equip rural youth who are migrating to cities to find jobs, to name it "MAN FRIDAY"!?

    'Man Friday' is a character in Daniel Defoe's novel Robinson Crusoe written in the year 1719. The book is about the adventures of a white man, after whom the book is named, who is castaway in a remote island for 28 years. On the 25th year, he obtains a native cannibal as his servant who he names "Friday", after the day of the week he was obtained. Crusoe teaches his man Friday English and converts him to Christianity.

    The protagonist Robinson Crusoe is known as the true prototype of the coloniser who claims himself the King of the island, attempts to replicate his society in the colony and imposes Christian morality in the colony. And, the relationship between Crusoe and man Friday is a clear case of master-servant relationship, openly indicating cultural imperialism.

    How can the central paramilitary force be so insensitive as to give this programme the slave-name of 'Man Friday'? By naming it so, those availing these skills are being termed as inferiors, meant solely for the purpose of labouring for the privileged. These skilled workers should be considered as professional workers and need to be recognised as part of the working class. They need to be provided safety and job security with the implementation of minimum wages. They are not man Fridays, they are dignified labourers with rights.

    Read the article here.

    Sruti M D is pursing her PhD in English at Ambedkar University Delhi.

    Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the writer's own, and do not necessarily represent the views of the Indian Writers' Forum.

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