By Ila Ananya
“The room was full of Delhi elites who make their maids and nannies wait outside in the heat lest they pollute their surroundings, and I bet many of them were civil servants and keepers of the Indian constitution. It was so appalling at many levels: that a citizen in India is judged on her dress and treated as a pariah; that in this day and age, human rights of so many citizens can be tramples on just because he/she earns an honest living as a help,” wrote Nivedita Barthakur, Honorary Adviser, Health, Government of Assam, in a furious post on Facebook on 25th June.
The reason? Tailin Lyngdoh, a woman from Meghalaya who worked as a governess for Barthakur’s son, was unbelievably asked to leave the Delhi Golf Club because she “looked like a maid.” What followed was an argument, and The North East Today reports Barthakur as saying that while the argument happened, there were whispers of “pata nahin kahan kahan se aate hain,” [don’t know where all they come from].
Lyngdoh, was reportedly asked to leave the Delhi Golf Club because she was wearing a traditional Jainsem (a dress worn by Khasi women), because she was looked like a maid and needed to vacate the place because she looked like a “dustbin,” as NDTV reported. Lyngdoh had been invited to a lunch at the golf club by Barthakur, but was approached by officials just before lunch began, asking her to leave, who also called her a Nepali, and said that her dress was different.
The case is undoubtedly one of blatant racism that needs to be addressed, but it’s also, as Barthakur pointed out in her Facebook post, about how women who work as governesses and domestic help are treated. It’s not hard to expect that the room in the Delhi Golf Club had been full of upper class men and women discussing the sorry state of so many people in India, while continuing to be offended by the presence of someone from another economic class sitting down to eat with them. After all, we are content with having these discussions from a distance and appearing to be progressive and all inclusive, but who cares about practice?