Tuesday, January 17, 2017

People state interface: The case of ticket inspectors

Being a 'daily passenger' of the sealdah bongaon section of north suburban railways from 2001 to 2006 Kaleidoscope developed instinctive techniques to board the over crowded trains without falling off. He has largely been successful as he is still alive. However, in 2003 or 2004 onwards the indian railways initiated a special ticket checking drive. It was first known as 'laal gaari' since the people without ticket used to b deported in a rain coach painted in nostalgic red. Later on it was replaced by an EMU coach known as 'chetna' -  consciousness. It was quite successful to raise the consciousness of the people. Well, once in his nearby station Kaleidoscope was taking the preparation to board the train. A ticket checker was standing behind him - yes, it was that special ticket checking drive. The over crowded train came, kaleidoscope used to run a few steps with the train before it stops to get a better position. He managed that and suddenly a firm grip on his shirt collar. The checker demanding ticket. Kaleidoscope has never in his life boarded a train without ticket. He was definitely irritated with the act of the ticket inspector. He showed the ticket and demanded an explanation. Since kaleidoscope missed that train he had some time to argue with the inspector. Inspector simply said that he has the right to pull a person's collar to demand the ticket and it appeared to him that i was trying to escape from his ironfast because i didn't have the ticket. Of course it was not true. But that was a lesson for young adult me how the people in uniform sees us.

A complete different scenario was in sealdah station. Many of my friends never bought tickets not even the heavily subsidised season tickets. They were never chased or harassed. The reason is the context of sealdah station, proximity of our famous ticket inspector beating Bangabasi college.

If we kind of extend these experiences we can relate things about state-people interactions. The state views its subjects with its 'legitimate' power to exercise violence as subordinates. There is no problem if one humiliate a person in the name of ticket inspection, while people define state a necessary evil with impositions against their will. Hence, there is always attempts of bypassing in whatever means possible its regulations. It begins early in people's life and continues with intergenerational transportability.