Sunday, January 29, 2006
Those Damned Chowkidars
Here is a modern parable
Years ago the head of a family died leaving two separate groups of family members. Neither side was rich, but the older family clan had much larger numbers and more resources. The less powerful and anxious younger clan decided to breakaway and divide the joint family holding as they feared they would be overwhelmed by their more numerous cousins.
After having broken away the junior clan continued to feel intimidated. Convinced that their more powerful cousins would not tolerate the property division, they employed a bunch of Chowkidars to protect their property and counter any potential aggression from their neighbouring cousins and their employees.
As year went by there was a great deal of acrimony between the two clans, which led to several serious scuffles involving employees on both sides of the divided fence. The Chowkidars of the younger clan kept warning their employers that things were going to only get worse as the rival clan was not only more powerful, but, according to these employees, held very hostile intentions. The younger clan got decidedly nervous and not only employed more Chowkidars and enhanced their status and remuneration, but also began involving them in their family council meetings.
As years went by the Chowkidars grew more powerful within these family council meetings. Why? Well they managed to convince some of the family members (especially those that loathed the other clan), that the family would not survive without the Chowkidars, who were not only qualified to protect them, but were the only ones able to defend their community.
A few years later the Chowkidars decided to take over the council and dismissed the family altogether. Why? Well, according to these employees, the family had become too weak and feeble; thus unable to defend itself. To bolster the family’s defences the Chowkidars insisted that the larger part of the family income be handed over to them, as they were now not only shielding the family from aggression but were now obliged to run the family’s affairs as well.
After a number of years an odd thing came to pass – the Chowkidars had by now taken over the property and the family that had originally employed them, found themselves working to the bone to provide for their once-upon-a-time employees. Whenever the family members – by now completely powerless and impoverished - tried to raise their voices and attempted to remind the rich and powerful Chowkidars that the property they now controlled wasn’t really theirs, these unfortunate people would be smacked on the head, be accused of criminal ingratitude, and told that they didn’t really know what was good for them.
Does the story sound familiar?
It definitely ought to. After all it is our bloody Chowkidars that have taken over our property – Pakistan.