Skip to main content

NFIW asks G20: You want to promote trade, business between nations, but at what cost?

Counterview Desk 

The well known gender rights organisation, National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW), has asked heads of state at the G20 summit, to take place in Delhi, to work for building an inclusive, just and equitable society. Pointing out tha the G20 intends to promote trade, business, and commerce between countries, the NFIW letter, signed by Aruna Roy, president, and Annie Raja, general secretary, asks, "At what cost?"
Stating that while democracy in its formal and institutional form remains popular as a method of governance among G20 nations, the letter states, it is also a fact that there is "persecution of religious and sexual minorities, criminalizing dissent and criticality, dispossession from land and other key resources, otherizing sections of the populace, especially those from historically marginalized sections."
Stating that all this has become "the norm in the new world order", it underlines, "Unjust and undemocratic social and economic systems also marginalize women, children and other minorities."

Text:

The theme of the 2023 G20 Summit is Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (One Earth, One Family, One Future). The National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW), a 70-year-old national women's organization places before this platform our demands for building an inclusive, just and equitable society. We want the world to be one where no one is left behind. We seek social, political and economic empowerment for all sections of society.
We are aware that the G20 grouping intends to promote trade, business, and commerce between countries. This being stated, we put forth a pertinent question: at what cost is business and commerce being pursued? Advancement cannot be at the cost of basic human dignity, human rights and natural resources. Currently in India, people’s lives are marked sharply by extreme precarity. This precarity is strongly present in the economic, political, social as well as cultural domains. With dwindling job security on the one hand and alarming unemployment on the other hand, the young population of India is living through a crisis. Education and healthcare too are being aggressively commodified making it an unrealistic goal that cannot be pursued by the majority of the people.
Corporate loot of natural resources especially land and forest is pushing people into hunger, malnutrition, ill health, and poverty. The situation that prevails in our country, we clearly understand it as being part of the larger global arrangement of State, economy, and polity. In the contemporary world of neo-liberal capitalism, the pursuit of super profit is firmly built over super exploitation.
People world over are being forcefully emptied out of their humanness. Accompanying the super-exploitation is the rise of aggressive xenophobic nationalism that is further aggravating the crisis faced by the people. Persecution of religious and sexual minorities, criminalizing dissent and criticality, dispossession from land and other key resources, otherizing sections of the populace, especially those from historically marginalized sections, have become the norm in the new world order. Violence too, both structural and brute, has become the essence of everyday life for the vast majority of people.
Today, a large section of the world’s population lives in subhuman conditions, with ills such as poverty, under-nourishment, illiteracy, trafficking and bonded labour. They are being denied access to basic government protections and welfare measures.
While democracy in its formal and institutional form remains popular as a method of governance, yet it is precisely here that the quest for democracy seems stagnated. Multiple marginalities in society instead of being remedied is in fact being further entrenched and milked for profits by the powers to be. The essential idea of substantial democracy is unfortunately being set aside.
As in the case with any crisis, in this de-humanized present too, it is the women who are the worst affected. They remain the first casualty in the mechanical pursuit of growth and profit.
We urge the G20 to pledge to uphold social and gender justice; equality, liberty and dignity for all
G20 represents 20 governments, who believe in the principles of democracy, and it therefore becomes their responsibility to foster and promote democratic human rights and a rights based approach to policy and development.
We urge all the participating G20 countries to consider the following demands:
  1. As the foundation of any democracy lies in non-discrimination, on grounds such as religion, caste, class, creed, ethnicity, color, gender or any other form of vulnerability, we hope the leaders will work towards strengthening inclusive and substantial democracy rather than turning it into an electoral or majoritarian autocracy. We also ask you to consider ensuring proportional and equitable representation in all policy making processes.
  2. Women constitute half the world’s population but continue to be discriminated against and excluded in all spheres of life. Our primary demands remain: socio-economic-political equality for all women, right to life with dignity, food security, end to violence, and universal health care, which was part of the goals outlined in the last G20 summit. We would appreciate a template to secure political representation for women and marginalized communities.
  3. Unjust and un-democratic social and economic systems also marginalize women, children and other minorities. An example of this can be seen in the low labour force participation of women, rise in child labor, bonded labor, and human trafficking. As women, we want systems that lead to more equality and equity at home and work. Women should be paid the same as men in the same jobs, and get social security net and welfare. Most importantly, care work & home-based work should be recognized as work. We also demand that women should be delinked from male identities for official purposes.
  4. Every human being has a right to freedom of speech, expression, dissent and association. Classifying political opponents, human rights defenders, social activists and groups as seditionists or criminals is antithetical to the concept of democracy. We want the governments to ensure that political opposition is not criminalized or repressed and that all 1political prisoners are released.
  5. All participating countries today are witnessing social strife fomented by partisan media, including news channels and social media, which propagate misinformation, hatred and violence towards the ‘other’. Such media justify lynching, rapes, torture and assault of the weak, which in the long run creates conditions for the entrenchment of not only deep intense social and economic segregation but can also genocide. It is up to the governments to ensure that no media house becomes a mouthpiece for insidious ideological interests. Leaders and media that promote violence need to be firmly held accountable.
  6. We urge all participating countries to sign and ratify UN Conventions and Resolutions and ensure their accountability, as they act as the guiding principles and guidelines for the betterment of humanity. Accordingly, we urge the G20 platform to design and set up mechanisms that will monitor, assess and pressurize each participating country to be transparent about their human rights records, human development index and other similar indices.
  7. We especially urge the governments to sign, ratify and implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Also, as governments who understand the gravity of climate change, we demand that the transition from polluting to non-polluting fuels, as agreed upon in the Paris Agreement, will not be a cause for further destruction of lives, such as the potential impact on food security caused by switch-over to agro-based fuels.
In view of the above, the NFIW urges you to take up and strongly consider our submission to proactively ensure dignity and equality for all. Recognition, representation and redistribution should be taken up as a collective mission to be pursued with utmost political will and honesty. We urge the G20 to pledge itself to uphold social and gender justice. The principles of equality, liberty, and dignity for all should be the core kernel in the imagination of a just society.

Comments

TRENDING

IMA vs Ramdev: Why what's good or bad for goose should be good or bad for gander

By Dr Amitav Banerjee, MD* Baba Ramdev and his associate Balkrishna faced the wrath of the Supreme Court for their propaganda about their Ayurvedic products and belittling mainstream medicine. Baba Ramdev had to apologize in court. His apology was not accepted and he may face the contempt of court with harsher punishment. The Supreme Court acted on a public interest litigation (PIL) moved by the Indian Medical Association (IMA).

Women innovators on simple, revolutionary alternate solutions for water problems

By Proshakha Maitra, Mansee Bal Bhargava* The detrimental effects of uncontrolled population rise and accelerated change in the global climate have posed tremendous pressure on the water and sanitation. This calls all stakeholders, from both developed and developing nations, to improve their resilience and to instigate sustainability. It is more crucial than ever to optimise the use of the resources we have on hand since the world population is projected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050.

Magnetic, stunning, Protima Bedi 'exposed' malice of sexual repression in society

By Harsh Thakor*  Protima Bedi was born to a baniya businessman and a Bengali mother as Protima Gupta in Delhi in 1949. Her father was a small-time trader, who was thrown out of his family for marrying a dark Bengali women. The theme of her early life was to rebel against traditional bondage. It was extraordinary how Protima underwent a metamorphosis from a conventional convent-educated girl into a freak. On October 12th was her 75th birthday; earlier this year, on August 18th it was her 25th death anniversary.

Alleged killing of another Bangladesh youth inside Indian territory: NHRC inquiry sought

By Kirity Roy* There was yet another incident of the killing of a Bangladeshi youth by the Border Security Force personnel attached with ‘Barthar’ BOP of ‘G’ Company of 75 BSF Battalion. In last five years several incidents of killings happened under this police station’s jurisdiction and the cases will get the award as “Not Guilty” as usual.

Modi model, Hindutva icon 'justified' alliance with Muslim League before Independence

By Shamsul Islam*  Our PM describes himself as ‘Hindu’ nationalist and member of RSS. He proudly shares the fact that he was groomed to be a political leader by one of the two fathers of the Hindutva politics, MS Golwalkar (the other being VD Savarkar) and given the task of establishing Hindutva polity in India after eradicating secularism.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Crusader for people’s causes, this Hollywood actor entered 'unexplored zones' in US

By Harsh Thakor*  Marlon Brando on April 3rd completes his birth centenary. He perished in 2004, on July 1, aged 80 years. Arguably in Hollywood Brando penetrated sensitivity and versatility at an unparalleled scale and discovered new horizons or explored path breaking zones in acting.

Nuclear power expansion: Is AEC's new, 'unrealistic' target fully backed by PMO?

By Shankar Sharma*  Another unrealistic and tall claim by Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) has been announced: India is eyeing 100 GW nuclear power by 2047, the AEC chairman  AK Mohanty   has said. A few years ago, the dream target for the Indian nuclear establishment was 275,000 MWe of nuclear power by 2050 (as per DAE document of 2008 "A Strategy for the Growth of Electricity in India”). Now this target of 100 GW nuclear power by 2047. And as at the end of February 2024, the actual nuclear power capacity was only 7,480 MWe, which formed only 1.7% of the total power capacity in the country. 

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

How huge crowd at Mukhtar Ansari funeral is comparable to BJP's 'people's court' talk

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  The massive crowd at the funeral of Mukhtar Ansari in Mohammadabad reflects the power and influence that his family wields in the area. One can't deny that he had enormous power in Ghazipur and Mau districts. But the crowd that came and chanted slogans in his favour does not exonerate him of his conviction by the court.  It is important that we understand this.