Unimaginationally imaginable

Givya Shakuninandhan had all the requisite criteria to sit permanently on the decision making process of a well-known international organization in India. The first criteria that she meet easily and effortlessly was that she was casteist and the second criteria that she met to a tee, was that she was completely incompetent.

Armed with these two essential qualifications, she boldly took stands on several issues. She genuinely believed that the concept of bringing diversity into an organization meant that she could, as a matter of right, take up contrarian and conflicting positions on the same issues and with the same breath. Her monologues were well known and with her droopy eyes and doleful demeanour, she was able to inject the right amount of serious self delusion that was required of such senior positions.

She was paid a full salary for doing no work. While other staff worked from home once in two months, she had reversed the policy for herself to work from office every once in two months. This nominal work included coming late and leaving early and contributing nothing during the period in between.

She felt particularly competent around the issue of sexual violence and she strongly believed that her prior experience of having been thrown out from her previous organization had given her a good understanding of the issue. She had refused to register a case of sexual harassment against a colleague and having received much negative publicity, was relieved of her position. She readily drew upon this vast body of knowledge and experience to claim domain knowledge.

She opted for more unsubtle ways through her words and body language to make it clear that she occupied a senior position only because of her caste privilege.

This cosy little arrangement had gone on undisturbed for years. Ms. Givya had made a nice pile of money for herself which she used to build a cosy little house for herself and build a pool of funds for her only child and all his subsequent generations.

Suddenly, into this wonderful magical world, entered an evil witch. This witch had lived the basement of the organization and was brought out on certain days as the face of the inclusive nature of this organization. Suddenly deciding to useher magical skills she mumbled into her pot of flaming fires and magically removed the caste cloak from poor Ms. Givya.

As soon as the caste cloak was removed, Ms. Givya Shakuninandhan transformed into someone whose very existence became highly questionable. “What does she contribute?” asked someone. “How can she be paid so much?” asked another. A third just threw away Ms. Givya’s tea-cup and tore out her page from the annual report. The HR department tried to relocate her into another suitable position, but in vain.  The cleaning lady had strict hygiene standards which the heroine of our story would have failed miserably to meet.The accounts man could generate Excel sheets at a rapid speed – an activity that only sent her eyeballs rolling into a horizontal spin. Her ghastly gritting of teeth at a pretension of a smile was no match for the existing receptionist who welcomed every guest with her sweet smile. One could have even tried to place her as a field worker, but without her caste mantle – she could neither throw her weight (both literally and figuratively) around nor could she act like “Miss know it all” – a ready characteristic automatically bestowed on anyone who wore the caste mantle.

Having found that she really had nothing substantial to contribute, and without any caste cloak to instantly elevate her to positions of power, she shrunk to the size of a tiny mouse. She squeaked pitifully but every squeak only elicited cries of horror from her audience because now she didn’t have her caste mantle anymore.
‘Get it out, get it out, throw it out’– shouted all the office staff collectively. The staff had an amazing ability to come together in these types of instances even if they didn’t come together on larger issues of human rights.

Together they successfully threw the now vastly shrunken Ms. Givya out. After she had crawled out of the drainage pipe outside her now ‘previous’ office, she searched in vain for her caste cloak. The cloak, however had been shred to pieces by the office assistant. Givya somehow managed to find a ride back home. She swore to regrow her caste cloak and scout around for another job. She wondered if she could next join an organization as a caste expert.


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