Thursday, May 27, 2010

India.. a nation divided by "Caste"! ? is always useful to take a stock of what-we-are-most-critical-about... Specially when the media is abuzz with Khap Panchayat - with what-the-ground-realities-are...

And so, some news-items of the past weeks (click on the headline to read the news-items):

Maharashtra seeks Facebook ban
The Maharashtra government has asked the Centre about the possibility of blocking social networking site Facebook following such a demand from Muslim and Christian organisations...

77 per cent oppose same gotra marriages: HT survey
Even as the government proposes tougher laws against honour killings sanctioned by khap panchayats, a survey carried out by Hindustan Times in Haryana shows most people are against same gotra (sub-caste) marriages... The survey shows as many as 77 per cent of the respondents do not support same gotra marriages. The survey was carried out in Chandigarh, Rohtak, Jind, Bhiwani and Kurukshetra. Surprisingly, even in Chandigarh, 65 per cent of the respondents have opposed same gotra marriages....

Now, honour killings in Andhra
Honour killings came home to Andhra Pradesh on Wednesday night when two lovers were stoned to death by the relatives of a girl who had eloped with a man from another caste in Tadwai mandal in Nizamabad district....

After khaps, Arya Samaj shocker for lovers
After khaps, it is the Arya Samaj that has shocked couples in Haryana. A section of the sect has decided to ban marriages without consent of parents and villagers....

No.. Frankly, I don’t know where are the solutions
....but do believe that we will never find them, unless we accept that there is a problem!.....

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Nira Radia Papers - Raja, Tata, Ambani connection

I had read about Nira Radia in a recent issue of Outlook magazine on Corporate Lobbying... Her name again cropped up in an article in The Pioneer about the phone-tapping issue

These 14 internal GOI's documents, scanned and posted in the link below show the outcome of tapped conversations:

The Radia Papers– Raja, Tata, Ambani connection

Given the industry big-wigs and the media houses involved, this scam may never achieve the kind of publicity in the mainstream media, which the IPL/ Lalit Modi issue got.

The other reason for believing this is also because I got to know about this link through a group mail from a journalist friend, who works with a well-known and respected mainstream newspaper - obviously, if he could have published a story on this in his own newspaper, he wouldn't have shared the documents to all!!

Saturday, May 01, 2010

International Labour Day - The Forgotten Story

I had a vague idea about the origins of the "May Day"/ "Labour Day" (but not much) - besides of course that it coincided with some of the pre-Christian pagan festivals in Europe...

So, today when one of my senior colleague, who has spent more than four decades dealing with Industrial/Labour Relations, both as a practicing manager and then as an academic (besides being the author of "one of its kind" book on Industrial Jurisprudence, sent this mail, I thought that this forgotten history is worth sharing. I am reproducing his mail below:

Today is celebrated as a "Labour Day" all over the world. Quite a few of us may not be knowing "why May 1st only"; "why not some other day"; and "why at all should there be a special day of commemoration for working class"? Here is the story in a nutshell.

Explitation by US Industry - Long Working Hours
There was no law in US in the19th century (and until even as late as 1932), which conferred a right on the working class to form a union. Secondly, any attempt of workers to organise themselves was considered "criminal conspiracy" attracting prosecution under the criminal law of US. Thirdly, the US industry was guilty of forcing the workers, including women and children to work for long hours stretching to 15 to 18 hours a day.

Anarchist Movement - Strike by 400,000 Workers in Chicago on May 1, 1886
This was the state of affairs which prompted a few workers called as "anarchists" to secretly organise workers in Chicago in 1886 demanding "8-hour workday". The first strike in this regard was in McCormick Harvester Company, on 1st May 1886, in which workers of other industrial units numbering some 4 lakhs joined, sending shivers down the spine of business captains and the government. Police entered the fray leading to violence (including the throwing of a bomb by anarchists at the police party with the latter opening fire killing and wounding a few hundred protestors.

Trial and Execution of Seven Union Leaders
Finally, police picked up eight men stood trial for being "accessories to murder". They were: Spies, Fielden, Parsons, Adolph Fischer, George Engel, Michael Schwab, Louis Lingg and Oscar Neebe. The trial commenced on June 21st 1886 in the criminal court of Cooke County.

The trial was whimsical and wishy-washy in so far as no evidence was offered that any of the speakers had incited violence and indeed, in his evidence at the trial, Mayor Harrison described the speeches as "tame". No proof was offered that any violence had been contemplated. In fact, Parsons had brought his two small children to the meeting.

On August 19, 1887 the Court sentenced seven of the accused to death, and Oscar Neebe to 15 years imprisonment. After a massive international uproar, the state government relented and commuted the sentences of Michael Schwab and Fielden to life imprisonment. Lingg cheated the hangman by committing suicide in his cell the day before the executions. On November 11th 1887 Parsons, Engel, Spies and Fischer were hanged.


It also occured to me that for many people this history would be seen as a thing of past - a mere blot in the march of history. After all, we live in a more enlightened age, with the constitutional rights in a democracy, and the "rule of law" governing the social arrangements...

...till one comes across items like these:

2010 Games: Labourers go empty handed?

Migrant Worker Munee in Rural Bihar

...and not just in India, but across the world - numerous labour camps in Dubai, sweatshops in Third World countries...

Third World Slaves Making OUR Bargains to Buy