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

Noam Chomsky, top scholars ask NRIs to take stand on human rights violations in India

Counterview Desk
Renowned world scholars, including Noam Chomsky, James Petras, Angela Davis, Fredric Jameson, Bruno Latour, Ilan Pappe, Judith Butler, among others, have issued a statement castigating the Narendra Modi government for allegedly creating an environment of fear through arrests, intimidation and violence.

Actionable programme for 2019 polls amidst lynch mobs, caste violence, hate mongering

Counterview Desk
Reclaiming the Republic, a civil rights network, has released a document prepared under the chairmanship of Justice AP Shah (retired) -- and backed, among others, by Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan, bureaucrat-turned-human rights activist Harsh Mander, economist Prabhat Patnaik, Right to transparency activist Anjali Bhardwaj and social scientist Yogendra Yadav  (click HERE for full list) -- with the "aim" of putting forth policy and legislative reforms needed to “protect” and “strengthen” the Constitutional safeguards for India’s democratic polity.

Call to support IIM-Bangalore professor, censured for seeking action against Uniliver

Counterview Desk
Sections of the Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs) across India have strongly reacted to the decision to censure Dr Deepak Malghan, a faulty at IIM-Bangalore. Prabhir Vishnu Poruthiyil, who is faculty at IIM-Tiruchirapalli, has sought wider solidarity with Dr Malghan, saying, "The administration has censured Deepak for merely suggesting a meaningful action against Hindustan Unilever for their abysmal environmental record" by “disinviting” it for campus placement.

India under Modi "promoted" crony business, protected financial fraudsters, fueled bigotry

By Sandeep* and Rahul Pandey**
Narendra Modi's ascension to power was accompanied with jubilation and expectation. His supporters were expecting an end to era of corruption and initiation of good governance which was described as Achche Din. His party's adherence to idea of nationalism was believed to make India a vibrant country and guide India to be a world leader. He gave the slogan of 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas' conveying that his government was for all.
Corruption The government system is infested with corruption. A minimum of 10% is siphoned off from government schemes and projects, some of which goes back to political party in power and remaining is pocketed by various administrative, executive and political functionaries. This corruption continues and has increased. Now an additional Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) person working as Official on Special Duty or some equivalent position in every government department also has a share in this booty.
The Narendra M…

Inviting Rajapaksa to India "insult" to 1,40,000 Tamils killed by Sri Lankan army

Counterview Desk
In the context of Sri Lankan opposition leader Mahinda Rajapaksa being invited in India, about 75 human rights activists*, claiming to be concerned about rights violations during the civil war in Sri Lanka, especially in 2009, have joined together to express their dissent through a statement.

Post-advisory, Govt of India appears reluctant to ban e-cigarettes, "harmful" to kids

By Rajiv Shah
Is the Government of India dilly-dallying over the issue of banning e-cigarettes, which have been declared by anti-tobacco activists across the world as providing “an entryway to nicotine addiction”, especially among the kids? It would seem so, if the latest developments are any guide.

A Godse legacy? BJP rulers have "refrained" from calling Gandhi Father of the Nation

By Dr Hari Desai*
What an agony! On one hand, the entire India is celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but on the other side, so-called Hindu Mahasabha members have been found mock-enacting the killing of the Mahatma and celebrating the murder by distributing sweets!

No aadhaar, no ration? Hard blow by Gujarat govt on poor and marginalized

By Pankti Jog*
Only those who have aadhaar registration and linked it with ration card will get ration from a Public Distribution System (PDS) shop. This decision of the Gujarat government has hit very badly thousands of poor and marginalized communities of Gujarat, especially during the drought year.

World Bank needs a new perspective on development, not just a new president

By Maju Varghese*
The resignation of the World Bank President Jim Yong Kim was an unexpected development given the fact that he had three more years to complete his tenure. Resignations at such a high level after bidding for a second term is unusual which prompts people to think what would have led to the act itself.

Not just Indian women engineers, men too face sexual harassment at workplace: US study

By Rajiv Shah
A recent research, carried out jointly by two US-based non-profit organizations, Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and Center for WorkLife Law (WLL), based at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, has found that 45% of women engineers as against 28% of men engineers complained that it was perceived as “inappropriate when women argued at work, even when it was work-related.”