Skip to main content

Shift focus from "overprotected" organised sector workers to unorganised labour: Top rights activist

By Our Representative
A well-attended seminar organised by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), Ahmedabad, in association with the Wada Na Todo Abhiyan, a national advocacy group campaigning to include social justice issues in political parties' electoral agenda, has reached the conclusion that there is an urgent need to campaign for building a mechanism to ensure that the existing legal provisions of social protection are implemented, and the focus should be on the unorganized sector. “Several laws guaranteeing people’s needs exist, but they are rarely implemented”, CSJ director Gagan Sethi, a human rights activist summed up the main sentiment.
The seminar saw around hundred demands having been compiled to be forwarded to political parties across India for inclusion in their electoral manifestos.Martin Macwan, founder of Navsarjan Trust, and director, Dalit Shakti Kendra (DSK), off Sanand, the new industrial hub near Ahmedabad following the Tata Nano plant taking shape there, suggested that the organized sector employees, especially of the government sector, are “too protected”, one reason why they remain indifferent to people's needs. However, nobody is there to look into the unorganised sector workers, whose basic human needs, whether minimum wages, healthcare, housing, or education to children, are never taken care of.
“Recently at DSK, we asked a simple question to the children who come to be trained at the centre: As most of them are in their teens, we asked them what they know of the national Parliament’s functioning. To our utter surprise, they knew nothing about electoral politics, beyond the Gram Panchayat. This is the state of affairs of our education. The teachers, sure of getting salary, do not teach, and the students, as a result, suffer. There is a need to understand why this happens”, he said, adding, “The need of the hour is look into the plight of the unorganized sector.”
“You do not need to go far. You just go to the road behind the Tatas' Nano plant. Once, small villages existed along the road. Now, for nearly 10 kilometre stretch, you don't see any of them. Instead, you can only see migrant workers, half naked, mainly from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, living next to their makeshift dwelling units, with tin roofs. Most of the time they live in the open, without any basic provisions, whether water, sanitation or health. These workers are totally unprotected, yet few care to look into their problems”, Macwan said.
Taking the issue a little further, Priti Oza of Prayas said, “These unorganised workers, since they are all migrants, are not considered beneficiaries of government schemes where they work simply because their permanent place of living is far away. This happens despite the fact that for ten months in a year, they live next to the place where they work. They are not considered beneficiaries of ration card, of electoral ID card, of free medical care, of housing schemes.” She added, “The plight of the unorganised sector needs special attention, as it forms 50 per cent of the population.”
The seminar saw reiteration of the important demand that Baba Ambedkar's statue should be higher than that of Sardar Patel. Raising the issue high for inclusion in electoral manifestos, Macwan -- one of India's important Dalit activists -- said, “We do not believe in having iconic statues. But, unfortunately, those in power do not seem to understand any other language. The decision of Sardar Statue, to be built for Rs 2,500 crore, was taken without caring once about the need to take approval from the Gujarat state legislature. Even the opposition is quiet about it for some strange reason. Hence, we say, since Ambedkar’s stature is even higher, his statue should be higher than the Sardar’s.”
For the first time, a group claiming to represent sexual minorities in Gujarat was provided the NGO platform to up forward its demands. One of the members of the group, Swagat M Shah, said Section 377, which is obsolete, should be abrogated as it is “discriminatory” in nature. Claiming to represent lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LTBG) groups, Shah said, Section 377 doesn’t just considers all LTBGs as criminals but “prohibits oral sex and masturbation” between husband and wife in a room. “The Supreme Court order is discriminatory. It has declared 20 per cent of adult population as criminal”, he said.
The seminar was held following Gujarat’s 20 grassroots community-based organizations (CBOs) working in Songadh, Mandvi, Navsari, Tapi, Ahmedabad city, Surendranagar, Shehra, Devgadh Baria, Daskroi and other places worked out demands for the tribals fighting for control over natural resources, especially land and forests, in the scheduled areas of Gujarat’s eastern tribal belt, and the Dalits seeking an end to untouchability practices across Gujarat. There were also important demands for electoral reforms, such as 50 per cent reservation to women in all electoral bodies, and separate electorate for Dalits and tribals.
Then, there were demands for reservation in the private sector industries for Dalits, tribals and other vulnerable sections in view of expanding wings of the industry, bringing about an end to indiscriminate land acquisition, provision of proper resettlement package to those displaced because of development projects, resurvey of below poverty line (BPL) families in order to include those left out, an end to the contract system of employment, increase in the proportion of budgetary allocation for Dalits and tribals, and a ban on caste-based manual scavenging across Gujarat and India.

Comments

TRENDING

Amit Shah 'wrong': Lack of transparency characterized bank frauds, NPAs, jobs data

Counterview Desk
India's senior RTI activists Nikhil Dey, Anjali Bhardwaj, Venktesh Nayak, Rakesh Reddy Dubbudu, Dr. Shaikh Ghulam Rasool, Pankti Jog and Pradip Pradhan, who are attached with the National Campaign for Peoples' Right to Information (NCPRI), have said that Union home minister Amit Shah's claim that the Government of India is committed to transparency stands in sharp contrast to its actual actions.

Untold story of Jammu: Business 'down', students fear lynching, teachers can't speak

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released report, seeking to debunk the view that people in Jammu, the second biggest city of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) after Srinagar, people had gone “out celebrating” abrogation of Article 370 which took away the state’s special status, has reported what it calls “abominably high levels of fear” across all sections in the town.

Kashmiris in a civil disobedience mode, are going against 'diktat' to open shops

Counterview Desk
A team of concerned citizens, including Ludhiana-based psychiatrist and writer Anirudh Kala, Mumbai-based activist and public health professional Brinelle Dsouza, Delhi-based journalist and writer Revati Laul, and social activist Shabnam Hashmi, travelled to Kashmir and Jammu to understand the impact of the abrogation of Article 370 and the subsequent security clampdown and communication blockade on the lives of the people of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).

Gujarat's incomplete canals: Narmada dam filled up, yet benefits 'won't reach' farmers

By Our Representative
Even as the Gujarat government is making all out efforts to fill up the Sardar Sarovar dam on Narmada river up to the full reservoir level (FRL), a senior farmer rights leader has said the huge reservoir, as of today, remains a “mirage for the farmers of Gujarat”.
In a statement, Sagar Rabari of the Khedut Ekta Manch (KEM), has said that though the dam’s reservoir is being filled up, the canal network remains complete. Quoting latest government figures, he says, meanwhile, the command area of the dam has been reduced from 18,45,000 hectares (ha) to 17,92,000 ha.
“According to the website of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd, which was last updated on Friday, while the main canal, of 458 km long, has been completed, 144 km of ranch canals out of the proposed length of 2731 km remain incomplete.
Then, as against the targeted 4,569 km distributaries, 4,347 km have been constructed, suggesting work for 222 km is still pending. And of the 15,670 km of minor canal…

Ceramic worker dies: 20,000 workers in Thangadh, Gujarat, 'risk' deadly silicosis

By Our Representative
Even as the country was busy preparing for the Janmashtami festival on Saturday, Hareshbhai, a 46-year-old ceramic worker from suffering from the fatal lung disease silicosis, passed away. He worked in a ceramic unit in Thangadh in Surendranagar district of Gujarat from 2000 to 2016.
Hareshbhai was diagnosed with the disease by the GCS Medical College, Naroda Road, Ahmedabad in 2014. He was found to be suffering from progressive massive fibrosis. He is left behind by his wife Rekha sister and two sons Deepak (18) and Umesh (12),
The death of Hareshbhai, says Jagdish Patel of the health rights group Peoples Training and Research Centre (PTRC), suggests that silicosis, an occupational disease, can be prevented but not cured, and the Factory Act has sufficient provisions to prevent this.
According to Patel, the pottery industry in the industrial town of Thangadh has evolved for a long time and locals as well as migrant workers are employed here. There are abou…

Cess for Gujarat construction workers: Spending less than 10%; no 'direct help' to beneficiaries

By Our Representative
While the Gujarat government’s Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board, set up in 2004, as of March 31, 2019, has collected a total cess of Rs 2,097.62 crore from the the builders, it has spent less than 10% -- Rs 197.17 crore. And, as on May 31, 2019, the total cess collection has reached Rs 2,583.16 crore, said a statement issued by Bandhkam Majur Sagathan general secretary Vipul Pandya.
Pointing out that just about 6.5 lakh out of 20 lakh workers have been registered under the board, Pandya said, vis-à-vis other states, Gujarat ranks No 13th in the amount spent on the welfare of the construction workers, while 11th in the amount collected.
And while the builders are obliged to pay just about 1% of the total cost of their project, the calculation of the cess is flawed: It is Rs 3,000 per square yard; accordingly, Rs 30 per square yard is collected. “Had the cess been collected on the real construction cost, it would have been at least Rs 7,000 cr…

Success of 'political' Hinduism: Kashmiris being depicted as antagonists of rest of India

By Anand K Sahay*
There are times in history when facts call attention to themselves; they assert their independence in all its amplitude and are in no need of the crutch of interpretation. Such a moment is visible in Kashmir now. Merely by being on the table, the facts there taunt the regime’s proclamations.

Gujarat CM aide 'doubts' authenticity of Gandhi article published in 'Harijan'

By Rajiv Shah
A top aide of Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani has doubted the authenticity of the article written by Mahatma on Gandhi January 27, 1948, three days before his death. Hitesh Pandya, who was assistant public relations officer (PRO) under Narendra Modi’s chief ministership in Gujarat, and is currently serving as PRO of Rupani, has said, there is “reason to doubt”, since the article appeared on February 1, 1948, two days after Gandhi’s assassination.

Why nobody objected to Gautam Gambhir, Sunny Deol in t-shirt, jean?: Activists

By Our Representative
Mimi Chakraborty and Nusrat Jahan’s excitement on their first day as MPs was overshadowed by a barrage of sexism over their ‘non- sanskari’ outfits, a group of civil society activists have said in a statement. According to Aarushi Nigam, Divya Kaushik, Riya Sharma, Ruman Ganguly, and Anulekha Agarwal, both Bengali actors and first-time MPs "were certainly excited to take them on when they posted pictures from their new workplace on social media."
Hit by misogynistic comments, the activists say, "Their choice of workwear – jeans and a white button-down shirt for Mimi, a wine-coloured peplum suit for Nusrat – was the first and last word on their political competence for many."
“You’re not on vacation”, “they have mistaken Parliament for Kolkata’s Nicco Park or City Centre”, “this is not a photo studio, this is a place where you should fight for people’s rights and legislate”, “keep some respect towards your Bengali society” were some of the &quo…

Australian protesters picket, stop work of Adani contractors for Carmichael coalmine

By Our Representative
Australian protesters have stopped work at the Mackay office of piping company AC Whalan, demanding the company withdraws its tender from Adani’s controversial Carmichael coalmine mine.Twenty-year-old Lisa Amato locked herself to the gate of the facility, while a group of 30 people formed a picket line. Adani is a top Indian tycoon close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The group say they have information that AC Whalan have put in a tender for Adani’s polyethylene pipe contract, though the company have not publicly announced. Spokesperson Donna Smit said, “AC Whalan have not publicly declared their interest in Adani’s Carmichael mine, understandably because the majority of Australians do not want this climate destroying mine.”
“The message we are sending to AC Whalan and all other companies involved with Adani is that we have our eyes on Adani’s contractors. With the effects of climate breakdown being seen right now across this country, any company that hopes to…