Dear DSP

Dear DSP

No, no I am not writing about the Deputy Superintendent of Police. Such a person cannot be referred to as ‘dear’ can he?  I am writing about someone who works for us in our homes. Domestic Service Provider. I got the idea of referring such a person by the term DSP from the language of the internet — internet service provider.

People who are matter of fact refer to the person working in their home as servant or domestic servant. But those who have a soft corner for such persons do try to call them by some kind of euphemism and say, maid, or housemaid, helper, housekeeper, domestic help and so on. Please don’t ask, “What is in a name”, quoting Shakespeare. There is a great deal in a name. In our offices we no longer call peons as peons. We use the term sub-staff (short form for subordinate staff). Some refer to them as attenders or messengers. In hospitals ward boys are called Group D staff. Even clerks are no longer called clerks. They are referred to as assistants or staff members.

Over the past few years there has been a sea change in the management of people in organisations. What was known as personnel management is now called Human Resources Management. The most important difference is that HRM looks at people not as mere machines for doing the work but as human beings having their own desires, hopes and aspirations. It believes in the mutual development of employees and the organisation. The question is, when will we apply this thinking to our own homes and treat our DSPs as human beings having their own aspirations?

When we go to a picnic we do take the DSP. But does she (Mostly DSPs are female.) enjoy? She has to take care of the baby. We do take the DSP to a friend’s house for some function or the other. But when we enjoy, she has to wash vessels inside.
It is understood that in cities like Mumbai domestic help have formed themselves into unions and are demanding equal rights. The employer families are feeling the heat a little bit now.

Let me close with a question. Let us say a guest comes home for the first time. Your good looking DSP opens the door. The guest asks, ‘Is this your daughter?’ What will you say?