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

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Employment in Development: Connection between Indian Strategy and ILO Policy Agenda

Employment is a "soft" subject compared to labour standards - the hard core of the International Labour Organisation's mandate and agenda. The contribution that the agency can make to a member country regarding employment generally takes the form of assistance in developing approaches, strategies and programmes, rather than direct action. As such, it has significantly influenced Indian policy on the subject. On the other hand, the ILO has gained substantially from India's expertise and experience in formulating its own approaches and applying them to employment promotion policies and programmes in other developing countries. The collaboration, mostly in the realm of ideas, has thus been fruitful for both and perhaps for the rest of the world as well.

Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work: India and the ILO

The manner in which rights at work have been identified and articulated within both the International Labour Organisation and India since the founding of the agency in 1919, bears a close similarity. Despite what its mandate would suggest, the ilo (like India) has chosen to treat only certain selected rights as "fundamental" at the expense of issues such as those relating to conditions of work, wages and social security, which are equally constitutive of what it terms "decent work". This paper argues that recent developments within the ilo and India indicate the need for adopting a broader and more inclusive approach to ensuring decent work.

Secularism and the Indian Judiciary

The judgment of the Allahabad High Court of 30 September 2010 in the Babri masjid-Ram janmabhoomi case has put the final seal on the acts of installation of statues and demolition of the mosque. In accordance with our constitutional scheme one seeks remedial measures from the judiciary when the executive or even the legislature commits illegal acts. But what can one do when the judiciary itself commits unlawful acts? What is worse is that this verdict is the latest addition to a series of judgments by the highest courts in India which cast doubt on the secular character of the Indian judicial system.

Idols in Law

The findings and orders of the special full bench of the Allahabad High Court on the successful Bhagwan Sri Ram suit and the dismissed Wakf Board suit demand close examination. Central to the final order are two findings - that the disputed site in Ayodhya is the birthplace of Ram, and that it is a juridical entity. Both conclusions are of extremely doubtful legal tenability. In addition, it is on the basis of the dubious legal proposition of faith and belief that the court arrives at a finding of legal and lawful ownership. The placing of idols in the disputed site in 1949 was as much an act of illegality as the events of 6 December 1992, but the court gingerly steps around them. In short, its September 2010 verdict surrenders judicial soundness and integrity for political expedience.

Issues of Faith

For those who have chosen to explore the implications of the Allahabad High Court's verdict on the Ram janmabhoomi-Babri masjid dispute, one of the issues that have been particularly troubling is the question of faith. What is faith? What are the contexts in which it is invoked? And why are some of the implications of such invocations matters of concern? This paper focuses on the narrow perspective from which the richness and diversity of Hindu beliefs and practices have been represented in the verdict. Though many feel that the Ayodhya verdict has been successful in maintaining peace and harmony in turbulent times, what is distressing are the circuitous, even blatantly partisan, ways in which faith has been brought centre stage within legal discourse.

Was There a Temple under the Babri Masjid? Reading the Archaeological 'Evidence'

As witnesses to a major part of the excavations carried out by the Archaeological Survey of India at the Ram janmabhoomi-Babri masjid site in Ayodhya in 2003, the authors detail the many irregularities and outdated methods they observed. They also refer to the objections they filed regarding some of the procedures followed by the asi, as well as the objections to its Final Report on the excavations. In several ways, it was obvious that the asi was operating with a preconceived notion of discovering the remains of a temple beneath the demolished mosque, even selectively altering the evidence to suit its hypothesis. The authors stress that there is little doubt that the kind of archaeology practised by the statist asi, where archaeologists see themselves primarily as bureaucrats, suffers from a serious absence of academic engagement and training.

Dissecting the Ayodhya Judgment

Judged by the opinion of the two judges who constituted the real, as distinguished from the ostensible, majority of the three-member special full bench of the Allahabad High Court, the 30 September 2010 verdict in the Babri masjid title suits qualifies, in every sense, to be described as the judicial equivalent of the Ram janmabhoomi movement, which has had a highly "creative" character. Religious imagination and fervour have served to make up for a deficit of rationality, logic and historical evidence, with clerics turning into historians and judges becoming clerics. A close examination of the judgment shows much of it stands on flimsy legal grounds, and it would hardly be tenable if not supported by some very specious reasoning.

Seeing the Elephant in the Room: Human-Elephant Conflict and the ETF Report

The report of the Elephant Task Force acknowledges the gravity of human-elephant conflicts, and makes a set of potentially far-reaching and forward-looking suggestions to alleviate them. The spirit of most of them is admirable and positive, but the devil, as always, is in the implementation. Managing conflict is as much about protecting farmers and farmlands from elephants as it is about reducing our footprint on the elephant's domain. The first of five articles that discuss the Elephant Task Force report.

Blame the Forest Management System

The Elephant Task Force's report draws attention to the basic difference between tigers and elephants in that the latter do not operate in bounded territories. However, India's forest management system, inherited from the British, is still based on the premise that forests cover a specific territory that have to be governed in a repressive fashion for the extraction of profit. The plight of elephants is only a small part of the larger social and economic conflicts and issues this has thrown up. Unless there is true social and democratic land use planning in the country, there is little hope of the task force's many recommendations achieving anything substantial.

Did the Task Force Get It Right?

The Elephant Task Force's report makes a number of sensible recommendations and the body has by and large done a commendable job in the short time it had. That said, there are some serious omissions, which ought to be remedied before the proposed statutory agency called the National Elephant Conservation Authority with a governing council that includes representatives from various disciplines is set up. In addition, the report sets out a vision for India to become a global leader in elephant conservation. Though a laudable aim, this would require much better preparation and performance by the country's delegations in international forums.

An Elephantine Task

An assessment of the task force report, both in terms of the value of its recommendations and implementability and a comparison with the implementation of the Tiger Task Force recommendations of 2005.

Gajah and Praja: Conservation, Control and Conflicts

The adivasi people living near the Orissa-Andhra Pradesh border face the challenge of having to live with elephants which, according to the Elephant Task Force, have been "displaced" because their home ranges and habitats in the Lakhari Valley Wildlife Sanctuary have been severely degraded. These pachyderms are liable to cause serious human-elephant conflicts in the new areas they move to. Though the task force's prescriptions to mitigate conflicts pay lip service to involving local communities in conservation, in essence they lean towards displacing the adivasis who have lived in the forests for centuries and now have the legal right to do so.

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