ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Articles by Supriya RoyChowdhurySubscribe to Supriya RoyChowdhury

Power Looms in Maharashtra

Power looms are the largest producers of cloth in India, but in recent years, some policy decisions seem to have affected its effective functioning. The current crisis of this sector in Maharashtra, the state which has the largest number of power looms in the country, is examined.


Welfare without Work or Wages

Reiterations of the state’s responsibilities have emerged at a time when the market had gained legitimacy of hegemonic proportions. This new thinking can be seen as an effort to redefine the state’s welfarist profile. Closely tied to the idea of democracy and civil society’s initiatives as means of securing the state’s obligations, these discourses and policies remain exclusively focused on welfare-related social policies, while work and work-related rights have been pushed to the margins of the framework of state responsibility. This widely shared position fails to engage with broader political economy issues, particularly with the specificity of the ever expanding domain of irregular workers, and the contradictions of talking about welfare, but not about work or wages.

Class in Industrial Disputes: Case Studies from Bangalore

The decline of the political significance of industrial conflicts is not quite a result of the structural changes in management-labour relations (as commonly thought) in these times of globalisation. It is more a consequence of the lack of an appropriate agency and politics among the working classes, despite their increasing incompatibilities with globalising capitalism. A set of case studies of manufacturing industries in Bangalore illustrates this point.

The Scholar and the Manager

Social science institutes need outstanding academics as organisational heads. But unlike in the past, such academics are unwilling to occupy positions as head of institutions. A number of reasons are responsible for this reluctance. Ultimately, this is both a reflection and the result of the current state of social science institutions.

The Intellectual-Left Stand-off

The protest by some of India's most well known academics at the recent violence in Nandigram is laudable but it only addresses the symptoms of a wider malaise. It is in the inability of the left-leaning intellectuals to ask the underlying questions that matter that has left them locked in an uncomfortable stand-off with the political left.

Papiya Ghosh: In Memoriam

The tragic death of the historian Papiya Ghosh marks the demise of a truly extraordinary scholar, a popular teacher and a dearly loved friend. The manner of her death also exposes the rot that lies beneath our boasts of progress and in our systems of governance.

State-Directed Development

State-Directed Development: Political Power and Industrialisation in the Global Periphery by Atul Kohli; Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2004;

Labour Activism and Women in the Unorganised Sector

Wages and working conditions in Bangalore?s rapidly expanding garments export sector, employing a large number of women, remain completely unregulated. Governments and mainstream trade unions have been largely indifferent to this sector. A number of NGOs and new trade unions have now stepped into this vacuum. Their framework of activism focusses on developmentalism of a certain kind ? credit associations, slum or neighbourhood development, internationalising the issue of workers? rights ? rather than on confrontational struggles over wages and working conditions. This genre of activism is based on a broad understanding of the informal sector, where a large number are self-employed, as one in which the employer-employee or capital-labour relationship is opaque, if not absent. However, this understanding and activism may indeed be limited in a context where capital is internationalised and labour is recast, into contractual, casualised, and in this case, feminised, workforce.

Economic Reforms in Political Space

If it is accepted that the contours of the possibility of state-supported welfare are shaped by a continuous adjustment between capital's profits and public welfare then it is only democratic politics that can contribute significantly to the shape of that adjustment. In that case, the fact that economic reforms are a contested arena within the political space needs to be acknowledged, not denied.

Globalisation and Labour

The discourse on labour in the era of globalisation has gone in several directions. A central question has been ignored by this literature: in a period of marketisation, labour is disempowered on several dimensions: the numerical decline of the organised workforce; weakening trade unions; and, frequently, the politically right-ward turn of social democratic parties which shift to neo-liberal, market oriented policies. This essay provides, in brief outline, a discussion of some important shifts in labour's position in the current era when the economic policy framework has been pulled gradually, but definitively, towards greater measure of integration with markets, both domestic and global. In particular, the focus here is on the shrinking of the organised sector, the world of informal labour, inadequacy of social security nets, and the changing dynamics of trade union functioning.

Old Classes and New Spaces

Critical perspectives on globalisation acknowledge the need for mitigating the inegalitarian impact of marketisation upon disadvantaged sections on social security and welfare measures. However, scant attention has been paid to the fact that today the political leverage of the traditional protagonists of welfare - the welfare state, social-democratic parties and trade unions - has been eroded. As such, the discourse on welfare and social security is unanchored in any kind of politics. This paper looks at the activities of the National Centre for Labour. Its relationship to traditional trade unions and leftist parties frames the discussion of the limits of the effectiveness of new unions in empowering the poor.

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