The dynamics of exploitation

The dynamics of exploitation

Recently, a shocking news item accompanied by footage revealed a shocking truth.

Women of the reticent Jarawa tribe of Andaman Islands were allegedly made to dance in their partially nude state in exchange for food. Outrage spread among the intelligentsia who unanimously condemned the ‘human safari’ as being a worst form of human rights violation. This incident brings into focus the insidious issue of exploitation.

The dynamics of exploitation is complex and contentious. Glossing over utilitarian/economic facets which are self-explanatory, it may be worthwhile to delve into the engineering of it in the homosapien psyche and the socio-political mechanics of it. What could be the depraved rationale behind commodification and hegemony over those of one’s own species? What could be the driving force behind a perennial situation in which a certain caste, community, ethnicity, race or nationality is badly used?

Could a Freudian explanation lurk in the depths? A personal self-esteem so abysmally low that it seeks refuge in seeking self- gratification and self- aggrandisement through exploiting others verbally, psychologically, physically or sexually thereby making rampant racism, fundamentalism, chauvinism, ostracism and genocide? Social cannibalism at its pinnacle could be a modus operandi to assert and prove one’s own ‘superiority’ over others.

Masochistic tendencies
The key to gross atrocities on one’s own ilk could be covertly embedded in masochistic tendencies- a perverse pleasure derived by inflicting torment in those of our own kind and subsequently on ourselves. Profane exploitation of others could be a form of self- derisiveness. By treating fellow humans worse than animals, are we pandering to a deep seated low self-esteem and assuaging (or sublimating) certain repressed fears? Doesn’t the US marines’ micturating on corpses of Afghani insurgents, for instance, reek of self- deprecation rather than rebellion?

History is replete with illustrations of exploitation of behemoth proportions. In ancient India, where hierarchy was the mantra, the ‘upper castes’ inflicted unspeakable miseries on those compartmentalised into lower varnas. Did this rigid orthodoxy and ostracism, the politics of hierarchy and subjugation arise out of fear of one’s organic filth and its mental equivalent?

Freudian explanations aside, discrimination lays the foreground to exploitation. If the former is the root, the latter is the noxious tree that springs out of it. Discrimination entails touting a particular person as inferior because of his race, religion, colour etc. Could this have been the attitude behind British imperialism (and plunder of India); the English being self-appointed ‘emancipators’ of ‘the white man’s burden’?

 Could this be the excuse behind exploiting women in the name of man or god (Yes, the misleading ‘devadasi’); paying women lower wages for equal work as compared to their male counterparts? Is perceived inferiority reason for the contemporary remixed version of bonded labour (the indentured servant); a common situation where people (children in particular) from poor families are made to work to the bone for a pittance- sometimes a little more than food? Does discrimination account for hate crimes on transgenders and homosexuals?

Could the rather misguided theory of eugenics have led to the most chilling instances of exploitation? (Acts so dastardly, that they render the term ‘exploitation’ itself euphemistic). Hitler’s notions of the Aryan race and preserving its purity resulted in anti-Semitism and consequent en masse extermination of the Jews and some others who were considered ‘Genetically Imperfect’.

Black people from time immemorial have been tyrannised probably because they are believed to be genetically predisposed to be less intelligent than the Whites, Asians and some others. The premise that they can’t build or maintain an advanced civilisation has deterred their progress in many fields thereby perhaps making them the most vulnerable to exploitation.

Dubbed ‘subhuman’ and ‘savage’, their fundamental right to thrive has sometimes been attacked. The ‘modern civilised gentry’ duly adhered to the above stereotype when they made the innocuous Jarawas of Negroitan origins dance and exhibit themselves and their dignity. All this in return for the most fundamental and necessary commodity on earth- Food. The kind of treatment that no beast deserves, leave alone a co-human. Which raises a question rather pertinent as to who the enlightened civilised one is and who the primitive uncivilised is?