Most Indian houses have a practice of having separate spaces for feeding, resting or other activities for their domestic helps. There is a definite angle of caste and quite obviously class to this tendency of divisive behaviours that several Indian households display. Despite having their whole lives reliant on the help of the people who are dependent on back-breaking physical labour to earn a living, urban middle and upper middle-class society treats helps and physical labourers as alien bodies that have to be kept separate from them.
A lot of the idea stems down from rigid caste and notions of purity since almost the entirety of the working-class population of our country comprises of people from marginalised castes and creeds. There is still the notion of the pure and impure in terms of community spaces in our society which is hugely dominated by ideas of caste superiority. ‘Servants’ aren’t “allowed ” to share the same dining space, toilet space or resting space with the people they work for.
In several households, househelps eat from separate utensils that are kept separately from the ones residents of the house use. They are more often than not made to sit on the floor to eat, made to use separate washrooms which stay in unclean unhygienic conditions, have separate stairwells or elevators for use, etc. Certain households refrain from letting helps wash or clean items of worship that are used for serving household deities. This kind of discrimination is pretty common and pervasive and normalised. This is discrimination at its peak and happens right before our eyes in daily lives.
It is ironic that the people who are the foundation of society, relying on whom society functions, are treated as alien bodies, almost untouchables in covert forms. It is most important to recognise these avenues of discrimination conducted in daily life to the marginalised people. The modern generation and the youth of the country are responsible for correcting these long prevalent social norms that are guided under labels and notions of accepted social hierarchies and codes of obedience to be followed by the ones occupying the perceived inferior rungs. It is most important to treat all humans with dignity and that process starts right from our very homes.