The most thankless, least respected, most difficult, and a butchered profession. Yes, its a profession. Its a profession which employs a significant number of Indians. Just a consulting guesstimate, # of urban households in India ~10cr, atleast employ one maid, per house -> at-least 10 Cr maids work in India daily and Yes, unfortunately most of them are women. She is somebody who works tirelessly for you, not for her professional growth but for your basic necessities. Its a profession, that you cannot live without.One day a maid doesn’t come to the house, it becomes like the day of Lehman brothers falls in financial markets, like the biggest depression in home ministry — just one day. The moment your maid asks for a leave — you are like What? No no, please dont take it. Please come.
She barely gets her sundays off, but when your boss asks you to come on Sundays, you would fall out of your chair. You get atleast 12 public holidays + 15 casual leaves + 56 Sunday + 56 Saturdays (for most of you) = ~130–140 days off in a year with 365 days — More than 33% time on leave. How much time do you give your maid off — Probably 2 holidays a month itself kills you so imagining 24 days of total leaves, and if the poor her falls sick, there goes another 10 days, so in total 60 days — <10% of the time. It’s a profession that is the real ‘harijan’ segment of our country, its an impediment. Gandhi ji abolished untouchables, and left the onus on us to abolish this profession, we instead converted the community in to an oppressed profession.
We dont automate things that we should and depend on maids to do that work for us. We talk about AI and ML taking over, but washing your clothes, drying them still needs manual labour — why, because its cheap, because there is price to humans in this country. They do the most menial jobs for you — clean your house, clean your dishes, cook food for you, wash your clothes, clean your toilets, and what not. Most maids work in multiple houses, because what do we pay them — less than peanuts. In Metros like Mumbai / Blr — Maids get avg 2k per house where they spend atleast 3 hours daily i.e. Rs 20 per hour. Smaller cities like Jaipur / Chandigarh etc — the rate drops to less than half of that, Rs. 5–10 per hour. Shocked to hear those numbers because you never calculated and were so proud of yourself that you were paying market salary to your maid.Yes, thats what we pay our maids — One of the largest professions in the country that only employs women. This is an oppression that doesnt seem like going away anytime soon, because no govt policy is working for improving it, none of these disruptive startups is trying to work on this problem, nobody is building brilliant tech to help these people come out of this Zamidari raj, no politician even has this in their manifesto — Why? Because we have accepted this as eventual truth for centuries and dont even recognise it as a problem. When more than 50% of your population is locked in to unproductive tasks, how do you expect your country to grow?
You know what every maid’s daughter is thinking today — “Main bai nahi banana chahti” (From the beautiful movie “Nil battey sannata”) and unsurprisingly more than 75% of them eventually end up becoming one. Its a vicious cycle. Its a cycle that no one is working to even break. More importantly, it’s a FORCED profession. No maid wants to do what she is made to and she is forced in to it by her family because of her adversities. When a boy is born in a poor family, he is privileged and sent to school (which in most of the cases he drops out from because of several issues not necessarily linked to his own). Girls are not even sent to school and are made to accept their future. What do we do about it? Nothing. Its a more intelligent sex, they are more responsible, drop out ratios are far lower for girls even in government schools, but we still keep them hidden our closets.
Every single one of you on Linkedin has a maid (the fact that you have an account on Linkedin is a sign of the affluence. Yes, earning greater than 10k p.m is called affluence in India, if you think you are downtrodden, look at the 700mn people below you who dont even earn that much and mind it, its not because they cant, its because our systems has not given them enough opportunities to even reach there, its our mistake and not theirs.
We give Ted talks, we talk about Elon Musk and his electric cars, we talk about SpaceX and Uber, we talk about Flipkart vs Amazon, 3D printing and chatbots, hours and hours of intelligent brain time is gone in to wasting gazillion pixels about whether FK will ever make money, or win against Amazon in India or will Ola win or Uber. Imagine, if all those brain hours went in to thinking, how can we make India a better place to live in, without our own domains, and we actually implemented any one of those ideas in our lives. Like Modi ji’s favorite rhetoric, its 1.25Bn people, if we all take a single step forward, the country has moved 1.25Bn steps forward.
The world will not be a better place, if we have 10 more Bentleys to cater to the burgeoning demand of the growing wealthy, but if we have 100 more Khan Academys (probably in vernacular languages in India) to educate/train people to be employed in those Bentley factories. We can do so much to end this problem — it has SO many low hanging fruits. We dont even have to innovate or research to begin with the solution. Educate them, not in infrastructure starved govt schools but on android phones. Byju’s wont do it as they are not in it to pass CBSE exams, Khan Academy will need to change a lot of content to tailor for them, we need to build indigenous content for them that is easy to understand in their own contexts, language and environment. There is no need to teach what H2SO4 is to them, but how to do simple math in their language.
Women are a very very important part of building the future of the nation, sooner we realise that, better it is. I invite you all to take up this challenge, (Most of you did the Ice Bucket Challenge 3 years back which became more of an entertainment spin), lets take up this real challenge for our country, lets change “Maid in India” to “Make in India”. Charity begins at home. Start from your own maids. She spends more than 3hrs a day for your crap, dedicate 2–3 hours for her over the weekend. Start with a simple aim of teaching her something that enables her to earn more, enables her to grow, enables her to learn. Give her the tools. Part with your old android phone, gift it to her. Gift her a Jio sim. Use the data revolution to catapult this profession out of our country. Lets make it happen. “Gift a door of opportunity to your maid, and if you cannot gift it, help her create her own”
Lets begin “Maid” in India to “Make”in India !
PS: Spare me for my glaring grammatical mistakes in writing the article.