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."


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.



The Vaccine War fails to reveal: Jabs not one of Indian scientists' 'proud' achievements

By Bhaskaran Raman*  On 28 Sep 2023, the movie “The Vaccine War” by Vivek Agnihotri was released internationally, as the story behind India’s Covid-19 vaccine development. While there will be many a review written, as for other movies, a technical review is important, as the film is supposed to be fact-based, on the science and scientists behind the science.

Insider plot to kill Deendayal Upadhyay? What RSS pracharak Balraj Madhok said

By Shamsul Islam*  Balraj Madhok's died on May 2, 2016 ending an era of old guards of Hindutva politics. A senior RSS pracharak till his death was paid handsome tributes by the RSS leaders including PM Modi, himself a senior pracharak, for being a "stalwart leader of Jan Sangh. Balraj Madhok ji's ideological commitment was strong and clarity of thought immense. He was selflessly devoted to the nation and society. I had the good fortune of interacting with Balraj Madhok ji on many occasions". The RSS also issued a formal condolence message signed by the Supremo Mohan Bhagwat on behalf of all swayamsevaks, referring to his contribution of commitment to nation and society. He was a leading RSS pracharak on whom his organization relied for initiating prominent Hindutva projects. But today nobody in the RSS-BJP top hierarchy remembers/talks about Madhok as he was an insider chronicler of the immense degeneration which was spreading as an epidemic in the high echelons of th

'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 The 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 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.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Why is green revolution harmful for nutrition, food safety, environment, climate change

By Bharat Dogra*  A lie repeated a hundred times will not turn a lie into a truth. The big media should realize this and stop perpetuating the lie of the green revolution saving India from hunger, long after the world has awakened to the reality of how harmful the green revolution has been from the point of nutrition, food safety, environment and climate change.

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. 

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Govt of India argument 'unscientific, it lied in SC': GM mustard environmental release

Counterview Desk  The advocacy group Coalition for a GM-Free India has urged the Supreme Court of India to pass orders to implement the unanimous recommendations of the five independent experts of the Court’s Technical Expert Committee, including the Government  of India’s experts. 

Busy in political event, Gujarat govt 'evaded' plans to reduce massive Narmada floods

Counterview Desk  Farmer rights group Khedut Ekta Manch Gujarat in a letter to Bhupendrabhai Patel, chief minister, with copies sent to the officials concerned, has asked the Gujarat government to form an independent committee to investigate the recent massive flooding in Narmada, even as seeking proper compensation to those affected by the disaster, many of whom are farmers.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.