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

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Pandemic, Protests, and Workers: India and Sri Lanka Considered

The climate of protest currently characterising India and Sri Lanka continues to receive staccato scholarly attention with barely any attempt to peak into either contemporary history or significant workers’ participation by way of explanation. Both regimes have pushed the pandemic as the proximate reason for the economic downturn in their countries even though the individual national trajectories have been vastly different. Our attempt is to evaluate the recent spate of public protests in both locations as continuities in public response to the larger injustices of policy that have characterised these contexts. While we do not do an explicit comparison, the presence of a few factors that offer some similarities in understanding the contemporary scenario in both locations have been mobilised in this effort. In doing so, we take a longer view of workers who have also been part of the protesting public but have rarely been acknowledged as such.

Mirror and the Lamp

Land, Guns, Caste, Woman: The Memoir of a Lapsed Revolutionary by Gita Ramaswamy, New Delhi: Navayana Publishing, 2022; pp 432, `599.

Labour versus Labour

Echelons of labour in the production process are investigated. There is labour directed at the flow of output. Unproductive work also exists. It is concluded that the government expenditure supports production, and the taxation of unearned incomes should be 100%.

An Illusion Built on Tragedy

Continuing the Central Vista redevelopment amidst the pandemic reveals a sinister stubbornness.

Wage Code and Rules

The minimum wage policy is regarded as an essential tool for improving the welfare of low-paid workers, reducing inequality and poverty within the labour market. The Government of India recently reformed the country’s wage policy and enacted the Code on Wages in August 2019. To give effect to the code, the government has now outlined the implementation mechanism by notifying the draft Code on Wages (Central) Rules in July 2020. This paper examines some of the key reform measures undertaken in the wage code and the implementation mechanism, as provided in the draft wage rules, identifies shortcomings therein, and provides suggestions for improvement.

 

Labour, Livelihoods, and Employment in the 2021–22 Union Budget

Coming in the midst of the immense damage inflicted on the Indian economy by the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021–22 Union Budget needed to perform the unenviable task of compensating households for massive livelihood losses as well as stimulating economic growth while maintaining some fiscal discipline. As it turned out, the government chose to focus on the second and third goals and largely ignored the first.

 

Trump’s Policies and Billionaire Indian Dreams

Passage from India to America: Billionaire Engineers, Extremist Politics & Advantage to Canada & China by Ignatius Chithelen, Bryant Park Publishers LLC, New York, 2018; pp 212, $40.95 (hardcover).

Reviewing the Labour Code on Industrial Relations Bill, 2015

The National Democratic Alliance government released an early draft of a bill attempting to codify the statutes dealing with industrial relations, that is, the Trade Unions Act, 1926, Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, and Industrial Employment (Standing Orders)Act, 1946. The Labour Code on Industrial Relations Bill, 2015, is one of the three labour codes the government is working on to consolidate all the important labour legislation. It is important to analyse the text of the 2015 bill when the ruling party’s own affiliate, Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, protests against the proposed bill.

The Nokia SEZ Story

The closure of Nokia's mobile phone assembly plant in Sriperumbudur, near Chennai, just eight years after it commenced production, illustrates how corporations can quit operations at a point when it is no longer profitable for them to continue, while the impact of such closures on workers is profound. The special economic zones policy of the state actively promoted corporate-led industrialisation promising employment, and creating aspirations among young workers. There was no accountability or labour-centred exit policies factored into the state's industrial policies when state governments welcomed private investments. With the closure of Nokia, not only have promises been broken, but its workers and supply companies have lost their livelihoods and future possibilities of work. 

Sharit Bhowmik, 1948-2016

A fellow academic and comrade of 33 years writes about the labour studies scholar, much loved teacher, indefatigable trade unionist and writer who combined street studies with grass-roots work and organising.

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.

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