Sunday, June 5, 2011

[ZESTCaste] the original title was developed states revisited


Indian express: Plight of dalits ranjani kamala murthy
Dear Editor:
While the Indian economy has been growing, growth has been uneven across regions, caste, class, ethnicity etc
In India the Planning Commission for the twelfth five year plan has classified some states as backward based on economic and social indicators (
In the light of huge migration of dalits, landless laborers and other poor from these backward states to to so called developed states one needs to definitely address the reasons for this migration in the long run, but IMMEDIATELY address the abysmal conditions of migrant workers in recipient 'developed' states.
To site an example a fact finding done by me at the request of Unorganized Workers Federation and Rural Development Trust in Tamil Nadu showed that migrant workers from Orissa, Andhra, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal etc were living in abysmal conditions in construction sites with same water for drinking and bathing, housing in Aluminum tins closely knit together with no privacy, no toilets, rudimentary child care provided by a NGO,  education in one language provided by a NGO (under Sarva sikshya abhyan), no ration card, workers having to work 10-12 hours, receiving  half a days leave per week, some not receiving payment after a month by the agent and men doing night shifts, inadequate medical services and not being allowed to go to native state immediately in case of death.  Women were working upto eighth month, and when men went to work were vulnerable to sexual violence.  Single women with children were also there, extremely vulnerable to exploitation.  Migrants were procured through agents with some payment made to them by workers.  While acts for protecting migrant workers are there, they are poorly implemented
It is time to give migrant workers voting rights in destination states,  right to attend Gram Sabha in destination states, organise them in unions,  for destination states to provide same services to migrant workers (but in their mother tongue) as to local residents irrespective of whether they collect tax/levy from employers or not,  ban middlemen/women, register migrants in origin and destination states. IT SHOULD NOT BE THE ROLE OF NGOs TO PROVIDE SERVICES  BUT THAT OF GOVERNMENT. Migrant workers  should be covered under the proposed sexual harassment Act. All migrant workers should be registered under labour welfare board in both origin and destination states, but this is not happening.  ULTIMATE EMPLOYERS- WHETHER INDUSTRIES OR SO CALLED RELIGIOUS TRUSTS (IN THIS CASE),  SHOULD BE BROUGHT TO BOOK IMMEDIATELY.
Last but not the least the concept of 'Developed states' has to be revisited.  Not only migrant workers' situation is dismal, but the gap between dalits and not dalits and adivasis and non adivasis is worse in Tamil Nadu and Kerala than all India which are classified as developed  Kerala has seen a decline in CSR and is TN's better performance due to in-migration?  The problem is displacement from rural and urban areas, lack of land rights in addition to MNREGS and the entire neo liberal paradigm.   
Yes root causes of uneven development have to be addressed, but till then can the government allow migrant labour, dalits, adivasis and unorganised workers in developed states to live in near bondage? Just to (re) produce labour power for capital?
* Gratitude to migrant workers, Unorganised workers Federation, and Rural Development Trust

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