Is identity a commodified capital asset?

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I will continue as long as my body will allow, after that it all depends on God.These were the words of Krishna Majhi, 71, a domestic helper. She further added- “what can I do, I need to feed myself. I can’t read or write like you.
Like many others, Krishna Majhi does not have the luxury of a #MentalHealthPause to fall back on.

In an increasingly globalized world, everything around us is a product waiting to be packaged and sold. Education, our emotional and physical well-being – Krishna Majhi’s chance to have a decent life. Writer and translator Yogesh Maitreya writes: “Have you seen a factory worker? At lunch he eats iron and drinks tears; unlike academics, he does not have time to commit suicide.

What we are seeing today is an increasingly important struggle for power, between productivity and a sense of reason.

Hustle Culture glorifies the insensitivity of overworking yourself in the hope of climbing the corporate ladder, or even just having an identity. Under capitalism, what you sell is what you are: a domestic helper selling his work, a teacher selling his knowledge, or an entrepreneur selling his ideas.

On the one hand, social media is inundated with #SelfCareSunday and bubble baths and quick weekend getaways, and on the other hand is media that uses black humor and self-deprecating jokes to disguise what is. most likely a cry for help. Existing in the duality of extremes, it sometimes seems like an impossible Herculean task to just move from one day to the next. Under the rigid fist of capitalism, you’ll be sold elaborate self-care packages and weekend trips as a way to rejuvenate. But take a real break from work, don’t quickly respond to that business email – and you’re walking on thin ice and asking for trouble.

Data Scientist at Tata AIA Life Insurance, Shounak Ghosh shares his experience of workplace navigation. He says, in the pandemic situation, “working from home is a crass myth”. There are no office hours at home, and he listened constantly to his superiors. Even his weekends were entirely devoted to office work and his work with IIT Bombay as an analyst lecturer. There is no notion of space or personal time, he adds – a situation that has worsened since March 2020. “They think you have all the time in the world just because you’re home», He laments.

Representation image. Hustle Culture glorified overwork as necessary for “success”.

Research results from psychologists at Staffordshire University (June 2020) revealed that there was a growing sense of guilt associated with breaks from work. Dr Mike Oliver, lead author of the article, said the psychological and social barriers that prevent people from taking a break from work need to be addressed. The pandemic has compounded feelings of guilt – the feeling seems to be that because the pandemic felt like an unwanted extended vacation, even a break up felt like unnecessary freedom.

Indifferent to all this, the advertising companies have ruthlessly seized every opportunity to sell themselves in attractive packages.
Capitalism has colonized our emotions. Personal care is used as a marketing ploy specifically targeting the female audience. Victims of other gender identities are therefore continually denied any semblance of respite. Moreover, today the very concept of self-care relates to the extent of your purchasing power, where self-care is equated with extravagance. It’s almost as if, if you don’t line the pockets of capitalism while taking care of yourself, you don’t deserve to.

It doesn’t stop there. Most of the (deeply flawed) coping techniques for mental health that are talked about a lot today are appropriate for a very neurotypical consumer. Simply put, a neurotypical person is someone who has typical intellectual or cognitive development, as opposed to a neurodivergent person who has different patterns of neurological function. There is only a limited amount of binge eating and reckless spending that one can resort to, before realizing its futility. Those “substitutes“will have an incredibly negative effect on people with a true eating disorder or on someone with bipolar disorder when they are in an extravagant manic phase.

It is not just our emotions, but even education and culture itself, which are now a commodity. Anwesha Dey, a student at Presidency University, explains this in terms of the relationship between mental health, recreation and cultural activities.

Every year, we hear heart-wrenching stories of students braving unimaginable obstacles to take exams, in the hope of receiving their passports to a better life. Anwesha Dey takes the example of a first generation learner from a working class family. This student may need to help their own family financially, while managing their time for study. If his family has struggled to make ends meet so that he can have an education, he will feel the need to make the most of his education all the more, while also struggling with the guilt of being a woman. extra expense for his family.

It is indeed a do-or-die situation. In such circumstances, where is there time for any kind of higher creative or intellectual activities? And so again, cultural growth will also become what a particular class defines as the class that has both the time and the money for it.

When forced to compete with the power of wealth or the ambitions of an entire country, do the aspirations of young minds stand a chance? The commodification of cultures, aspirations and identity creates a space where the only way to survive is to compete. And the winner takes it all.


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