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

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Tales of Bhiwandi

Bhiwandi, the power loom town close to Mumbai, is reeling from several challenges that threaten its existence. Labourers, power loom owners and local people, predominantly Muslims, are struggling to cope with the financial and logistical problems of the power loom industry. 

Narratives of Health and Well-being

This paper deliberates upon the physical body of labourers as well as their health and well-being in order to reveal the contradictions in the state's discourse of national development and defence. Narratives of and interviews with the imported casual paid labour working on the Manali-Leh highway as for the Border Roads Organisation show us that illness, death and injury accompany the dangerous work of building roads in the high altitude of the upper Himalayas. The "unskilled" or "disposable" labourer is never able to accumulate additional utility or human capital even after many years of experience. His only capital--the body--is treated as a disposable and inanimate piece of machinery that loses its value in order to generate value for the nation.

Tribal Migrant Women as Domestic Workers in Mumbai

Focusing on female migrant domestic workers from Jharkhand, this article looks at their lives before and after migration. Jharkhand witnesses heavy migration and mobility to cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata, especially female migration. Girls and young women coming from marginalised communities migrate through different means and organisations like placement agencies, religious institutions or with the help of friends or relatives. Most of them get into the unorganised sector such as domestic work. Lack of social security measures continues to be a major challenge and a source of distress for these workers.

Occupational Health and Safety in India

In light of the focus on the manufacturing sector it is important to scrutinise the existing occupational health and safety provisions in Indian law and their implementation. This article argues that the current disregard for workers' health and safety could prove costly in the long run, and any growth in manufacturing must entail a clear practicable system to ensure occupational health and safety for workers.

Performance-Based Incentives of the ASHA Scheme

A study of Accredited Social Health Activists in Shahapur taluka of Maharashtra, a drought-prone adivasi-inhabited area, shows that the remuneration of ASHAs is a growing concern both for them, as well as their families. Recognising their contribution to public health services, the government should provide fixed payment to them, beyond which task-based incentives should continue to be given, though at a revised rate. The current system of remuneration is making it difficult for ASHAs to meet their family's needs and the community's expectations. Further, payment and reimbursement procedures need to be simplified.

The Plight of Domestic Workers

Domestic work has increasingly become part of the global division of labour and inextricably integrated within it. While migration for domestic work is an opportunity, in the absence of social protection, it also renders such workers more vulnerable. This essay takes its cue from how the feminist movement has approached the contradictions within domestic work and the various problems that domestic workers face. It throws light on the multiple hierarchies that the domestic worker is confronted with, as also the peculiar problems that the Indian domestic worker confronts. It explores a whole lot of different aspects of the domestic employer-employee relation within the context of the near absence of state intervention and the lack of legal protection. It also delves into the attempts that some trade unions, NGOs and church-affiliated organisations have made to bring protective measures and organise domestic workers to win labour rights.

Marriage, Work and Education among Domestic Workers in Kolkata

This paper analyses the findings of a research project undertaken by the School of Women's Studies, Jadavpur University on questions of marriage and related issues in the context of paid domestic work among the working women from two squatter colonies in Kolkata. The respondents are seen to be caught between the imperatives of early marriage and girlhood employment, but they insist upon the value of education for their daughters. Many of them have experienced and suffered early marriage and childbirth and are vehement in their rejection of such a trajectory for their daughters, even though not all of them are able to carry through such decisions. Parents from urban working-class neighbourhoods are not obsessed with sexual chastity of their daughters; they accept courtships and elopements, sometimes hailing the latter with some relief. What these mothers share with their middle class counterparts is an interest in tremendous investment in their children's education, which is in both cases accompanied by great expectations for the future.

Nursing Grievances

Nurses in private hospitals are little better than bonded labour.

Nurses' Strikes in Delhi: A Status Question

A comprehensive change in looking at nurses' issues is required, not only from the perspective of "quality healthcare", but also of their working conditions and treatment by hospital management. Better organising and increasing strikes by nurses has compelled the state - the Delhi government - to respond to their concerns.

Recycling Mill Land

From the perspective of Mumbai's economy, the controversy over developing land of the closed textile mills is linked to the decline of manufacturing and the rise of services. This has pushed skilled labour into the informal sector resulting in the dramatic reduction of their income, which has also pushed them into informal housing. How should a city cope with such a process in terms of the impact on the economy, employment, land use and environment?

Worker Politics, Trade Unions and the Shiv Sena's Rise in Central Bombay

The Shiv Sena's rise from the 1960s was assisted in large part by its ability to effectively channel emotions based on identity. It was the mill areas of central Bombay that formed the battleground for different political parties as they fought for representation of the class that had played a key role in shaping the city's destiny. Whereas the actions of the left parties were limited to the workplace, the Sena, through its shakhas, ensconced itself in the neighbourhood and rather than radical worker concerns took up emotive issues relating to livelihood and identity that played up the image of the deprived Maharashtrian.

Mode of Labour Control in Colonial India

From the late 19th century onwards, managing agency firms acquired a firm control of most cotton, jute and other mills as well as tea gardens and local mines, while looking at processes of labour control in the Bengal jute mills, the coalfields of Bengal and Bihar and the cotton mills of Bombay and Ahmedabad, this paper probes deeper into the dichotomy that prevailed as industrial capitalism first set up roots in India, for while policy decisions relating to wages, technology, etc, was vested in the managing agency system, disciplining of labour took place at the shop floor and in workers' neighbourhoods. Further, these middlemen, jobbers and agents came to exert overweening influence in the 'culture of coercion' that was thus established.

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