Archive for March, 2018

How Workers Die

Five workers in Sonepat, Haryana, burnt to death, including a woman worker with her child on her chest. Sixteen jumped from the third floor to various serious injuries. But nothing appears in the news. This is not some random incident, either. Workers work almost as bonded labourers for a pittance. In the entire area, there is no ESI, no Provident Fund, no labour laws, no pretence of safety measures, no union, only ‘acche din‘.
 
Below we reproduce a fact-finding report done by members of four workers’ organisations (Inqilaabi Mazdoor Kendra, Nagrik Akhbaar, Jan Sangharsh Manch Haryana, Mazdoor Patrika and Grameen Mazdoor Union, Bihar) who visited the area on 20 March. English translation by Manali Chakrabarti.
See also Hindi version of report (PDF)

Fiery Death of Workers in Real Paint Factory in Rai Sonepat : A Fact Finding ReportSeveral workers met painful death due to a fire which broke out in Real Paint Factory in the Rai industrial estate in Spnapat Haryana. According to official sources the number of casualty in the accident is four. A fact finding team constituting of representatives of Inqilaabi Mazdoor Kendra and Nagrik Akhbaar, Jan Sangharsh Manch Haryana, Mazdoor Patrika and Grameen Mazdoor Union, Bihar went to the site of the accident on 20th March, 2018. The team prepared the following report based on their physical inspection of the site and conversations with workers working in nearby units.

The Rai industrial estate is situated in Sonepat district of Haryana. It is on the G T road, between Delhi and Sonepat, around 47 kms from ISBT Kashmiri gate Delhi. The factory which caught fire was situated on plot number 291. 292, 293 on Rai industrial estate. The factory used to manufacture industrial paint for automobiles. On 20th March when the investigating team reached the site, smoke was still emanating from the factory. (more…)

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The contrast could not be starker.

On the one hand, on March 3, BJP-led alliances won the Tripura and Nagaland elections, and the BJP managed to form a government in Meghalaya as well, despite not winning there. The national media, which normally ignore the northeast, seized on the election results of these tiny states as earth-shaking events, worthy of banner headlines and relentlessly ‘breaking news’ broadcasts.

The results reaffirmed once more that Modi still had the magic to win elections. We were duly treated to political maps of the country with states ruled by BJP and its allies highlighted in saffron, and speculations about how soon the remaining islands of non-BJP rule would join the rest. Maps of successive years conveyed that the saffron wave was unstoppable. It seemed the media were out to reassure foreign investors who are anxious about the country’s long-term political ‘stability’. (They want such stability in order to push through unpopular measures, such as privatization and forcible acquisition of land.)

Meanwhile, many who abhor the fascistic policies of the present Government were cast into gloom by the latest results. They fear precisely what the foreign investors desire: that India will be in the grip of these forces for a long time to come. Indeed, the victory ‘celebrations’ of hoodlums in Tripura, including the destruction of statues of Lenin, were intended to convey the message that there is a basic change in the Indian political scene, and Hindutva rule has come to stay. Among those who are (justifiably) horrified at this prospect, discussion has been focussed on what sort of electoral alliance would be most effective in defeating Modi in 2019.

On the other hand, a little over a week after the Tripura results, the press was forced to take note of a very different phenomenon. Some tens of thousands of peasants were marching to Mumbai to fight for their demands (an unconditional loan waiver, a stop to forcible land acquisition, implementation of the Swaminathan recommendation regarding support price for crops, adequate compensation for hail-affected crops, award of forest rights to claimants under the Forest Rights Act, recording the names of tillers on unclaimed farm lands, revamping the public distribution system, and a pension for farmers.) (more…)

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Now the Regime and its cohorts have started on the job of destroying statues of Lenin (these exemplars of Sangh Parivar culture at one place even kicked around the head of one such statue like a football).

Soon, on March 23, these very gentlemen will be observing the 87th anniversary of the hanging of Bhagat Singh – a profoundly committed supporter of the man whose statues they are destroying. For Bhagat Singh to be paid homage by the likes of them is indeed a second, and worse, hanging of him and of his comrades.

Indeed, he would certainly have been deeply insulted that he has been exempted by these hoodlums from the same treatment they have given to Lenin. Perhaps he would have demanded that, rather than being garlanded by them, they bring his portraits and statues too under the axe – much as Bertolt Brecht, in the following lines, demanded of the book-burning Nazis:

The Burning of the Books

When the Regime commanded that the books with harmful knowledge
Should be publicly burned and on all sides
Oxen were forced to drag cartloads of books
To the bonfires, a banished
Writer, one of the best, was shocked to find that his
Books had been passed over. He rushed to his desk
On wings of wrath, and wrote a letter to those in power
Burn me! he wrote with flying pen, burn me! Haven’t my books
Always reported the truth? And here you are
Treating me like a liar! I command you
Burn me![1]

 

[1] from Bertolt Brecht, Poems, ed. John Willett and Ralph Manheim, with the cooperation of Erich Fried, 1976.

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