Outside of Delhi, the Indian media has largely ignored this reportage, much in keeping with the average Indian middle class' attitude of ignoring an issue that comes to its homes every morning and remains there for many hours. An issue called maid, house help, servant, mayee, bartan safai wali or whatever fancy or crude name they choose to refer to a working human being.
In Delhi, a dispute between a maid and her employer ignited a riot at Noida's tony Mahagun Moderne complex.
Maids who work in the houses in this apartment complex live in a nearby slum. They cross the gated community's imposing iron gates to clean utencils, do the dishes and wash soiled laundry so that upper class women can attend yoga classes or arrange kitty parties.
One day, a brawl broke out, a near riot. The New York Times reported it in detail, local supplements of Delhi's newspapers had full coverage and the Indian Express chose to write even an editorial, but by and large, the news did not percolate much deeper into India's non-metro cities or villages.
A small dispute over an alleged non-payment of arrears, and a counter allegation of theft became a full-blown riot. Hundreds of the maid’s neighbours, armed with stones and iron rods, forced their way into the complex and stormed her employer’s apartment. In response, thousands of families have sacked their maids, saying they can no longer trust them in their homes.
The madams are now looking for posture-friendly brooms. Some are studying floor-sweeping robots, while others are planning still more imaginative alternatives. The only thing they are not discussing is the broad daylight human rights violations that happen in the confines of their homes.
"Very soon, Amazon will find a solution to this, too," said a madam to this PT correspondent. Really? If that's where Indian middle class plans to look for a solution, you can bet the Indian media will not be able to confine this story to Delhi for too long.
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