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Workers right to unionize being trampled upon in yet another factory in Manesar: Report

September 22, 2015

Report on the protest by automobile workers in Manesar by BIGUL MAZDOOR DASTA AND AUTOMOBILE INDUSTRY CONTRACT WORKERS UNION



On the morning of 18 September 2015 when the workers employed in the Bridgestone company reached their factory gates they were met with Police officers and hired bouncers at the gate. When the workers tried to enter the factory premises they were resisted by the uniformed and the non-uniformed goons of the Factory Management. The Police beat up the workers and prevented them from entering the premises of the factory in spite of having a court order for tool down and without any prior notice the workers were sacked by the company. More than 400 workers employed in Bridgestone Factory in Manesar have been unlawfully sacked by the Company authorities after the workers demanded to get their Union registered. The workers are currently protesting outside the factory and have gathered there to raise their voice against the injustice and oppression that they are facing at the hands of the factory management.

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Cow Slaughter – Can a Directive Principle Trump Fundamental Rights of the Most Marginalized? Mariya Salim

September 18, 2015

Guest post by MARIYA SALIM

The debates and demands around the issue of the prohibition of cow slaughter in India are a highly volatile, political and contentious subject, with the cow being revered as sacred by most Hindus in the country. Although almost all the proponents calling for a national legislation for a total ban on slaughter of cow and other cattle today look to the directive principles of state policy and use an economic and agrarian argument to defend their demand, it is interesting to note that the constituent assembly debates around this directive principle clearly indicate that it was as much a religious issue, reasoned on science and agriculture instead however, for some of those who wanted it to be an integral part of the Indian Constitution.

After much debate and deliberation in the Constituent Assembly and a demand from a few members of the assembly, to include a total ban on the slaughter of cows as part of fundamental rights in the Indian Constitution, a compromise was reached and the protection of the revered bovine found place in the Directive Principles of state policy, which incorporates this Hindu sentiment in a somewhat guarded and hesitant form[1]. Most notable among the members raising the issue were Pandit Thakur Dass Bhargava and Seth Govind Das[2]. Syed Muhammad Sa’adulla, another member argued that he would rather have the insertion on the protection of cow slaughter as a religious ground, as, the argument on economic grounds will ‘create a suspicion in the minds of many that the ingrained Hindu feeling against cow slaughter is being satisfied by the backdoor’ and he went on to give facts and figures on how cow slaughter is not as bad ‘as it is being made out to be’ from the economic point of view. [3]  Read more…

The Patel agitation and the ‘paradox’ of demanding OBC status: Rita Kothari

September 17, 2015

Guest Post by RITA KOTHARI

Not long ago, a Gujarati film, Kevi Rite Jaish (“How will I go?”  dir. Abhishek Jain, 2012) provided to its viewers a rare fare. It was, unlike Gujarati films of the past, based on the life of urban Ahmedabad  and told the story of a young man whose dilemma was similar to that of scores of aspiring youth in Gujarat. Harish Patel, the protagonist, is obsessed with the idea of migrating to the United States and becoming, like many members of his community of Patels, a ‘motel-king.’ Harish Patel’s room is decorated with Statue of Liberty and Obama – deities that he needs to propitiate. However, his inability to answer satisfactorily the questions  asked by the visa officer at the US embassy leads to his failing to get a visa. The film builds up in comical vein the “trauma” of this event,  which prevented Harish Patel from  fulfilling his dreams in the promised land.  Several abortive attempts, including one involving fake sponsorship papers, bring to the viewer the satirical picture of a community that in the film at least, cannot see beyond motels and United States. The title poses  a real and rhetorical question for Harish Patel, who finally realizes that there are opportunities in his motherland  and this self-realization, certainly not a profound one, is suggested by signifiers of home-made food made by his mother.  A thoroughly ordinary film that this was, its success lay in striking a chord among young viewers who may also have been the chief patrons of such an economic venture.

To my knowledge, there was no counterview to the film contesting the stereotype of the Patel community, for this is indeed the dominant image of an urban Patel in popular imagination—affluent, enterprising and obsessed with the United States. Read more…

Kudumbashree in Chandydesham/Muneerland — In Three Parts

September 17, 2015

Part One: Prologue

In 2008, I reported the results of research on Kudumbashree women leaders at the village level, from seven districts in Kerala. Those were the days when Kudumbashree was being projected as the ultimate answer to all of women’s woes, and the chorus consisted of politicians, official feminists, researchers, bureaucrats, development experts – in other words, everyone, well, almost. What I had to say was not pleasant to their ears. However, implicit in my reporting was the essential changeability of Kudumbashree, which was after all a government programme. The discussions around the modifications of the Kudumbashree bye-law and its approval were on during our fieldwork, and even though we reported after it was finalised and approved, it was too early for us to assess its impacts.

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A Contested line – Implementation of Inner Line Permit in Manipur: Deepak Naorem

September 15, 2015

This is a guest post by DEEPAK NAOREM

Violence and the accompanying disruption of everyday life in Manipur is not a recent phenomenon. This year too, the state was plunged into a spiral of violence following demands for the implementation of Inner Permit Line, a law originating in the colonial period. This demand is based on real or imagined fears that Manipur, like Sikkim and Tripura, would be overwhelmed by the ‘outsiders’ and that the ‘indigenous people’ of Manipur would become a minority in their homeland. Such demands are neither new nor surprising in this part of the world, where a nearly-unfathomable ethnic, demographic and political jigsaw puzzle was created by British colonialism; one that was deepened by even more myopic and inconsistent policy in the post-colonial years. However, this year, following the death of a young student by police firing during a student protest in Imphal, the movement demanding the Inner Line Permit (ILP) gained considerable momentum in Manipur. Subsequently, the legislature was forced to introduce three bills in the Manipur State Legislative Assembly on 28th August, 2015, ensuring the implementation of Inner Line Permit in the state. This in turn triggered another wave of violence with the ‘tribals’ and tribal organizations opposing the three bills, eventually bringing life to a standstill in the state.

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Scramble for Muslim Votes as Owaisi Jumps into Bihar Polls: Abhay Kumar

September 15, 2015

Guest post by ABHAY KUMAR

Ever since Asaduddin Owaisi, president of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (henceforth MIM), addressed a well-attended public meeting in Kishanganj  on August 17, speculation about his party contesting election in Bihar has been rife. Three weeks after the rally, Owaisi, eventually, decided that he would field candidates in Muslim-dominated Seemanchal region of Kishanganj, Araria, Purnia and Katihar. “MIM will put up candidates in Bihar’s Seemanchal region, which is not only backward but also has a lot of problems. There has to be over all development,” Owaisi told media, giving the leaders of anti-Hindutva Grand Alliance jitters.

Contrary to Owaisi’s latest move, some political observers had held the view that given the weak organisational structure of the MIM in Bihar and late entry in the state, Owaisi was unlikely to jump into assembly election. For example, senior journalist and political commentator, Khurshid Hashmi said that if Owaisi had been serious about Bihar election, he would have launched his campaign much earlier as he did in UP. Read more…

The Woman Worker Re-emerges – Lessons from Munnar

September 15, 2015

For once, the praise of the mainstream media in Kerala does not sound like empty hyperbole or sickening sycophancy. More than six thousand women workers were on strike in the Kannan Devan tea estates of Munnar in defiance of their trade union leaders, seeking higher wages — and equal wages with men workers who are paid more though their work is lighter — and alleging that the trade union leaders were pocketing benefits due to them. The workers receive very low wages and live under truly despicable conditions not far removed from colonial conditions despite the fact that the Kannan Devan Plantations in now technically under the workers who own sixty per cent of the shares. The blather about losses in the tea industry conceals the enormous control over land that the Tatas hold for a trivial sum paid to the government. It also deflects attention from the serious charges of encroachment made against the Tatas, which our political class has not pursued much. Read more…


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