Symposium on Forced Labour in India and their Living Hell by HRDI
Human Rights Defense India (HRDI) organised a symposium in Delhi on “Forced Labour in India and their Living Hell” on September 14. A huge gathering of people from different walks of life including eminent judges, lawyers, journalists, professors, students, poets, authors and human rights activists and organisations attended the symposium.
Introducing the topic, general secretary of the HRDI, Shri Rajesh Gogna lamented the fact that even after six decades of Independence, the problem of forced labour continues to persist and there is no law or administrative effort to address this issue. Shri Rajesh Gogna said forced labour is not only a violation of fundamental rights but also is an offence against human dignity where an individual is compelled to provide labour or service against their wish. The ILO estimates that at least three out of every 1,000 persons worldwide are suffering in forced labour.
This coerced form of manpower takes different forms, including debt bondage, trafficking and other forms of modern slavery. The victims are often from the most vulnerable groups such as those who are unorganised labour, members of Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe, women and girls forced into prostitution, migrants trapped in debt bondage and sweatshop, mine or farm workers kept there by illegal means and paid little or nothing. “These victims of modern slavery and their stories remind us of the kind of inhuman treatment, we as a society, are capable of extending to the poorest section of society who have nothing to loose,” Shri Gogna said.
National Project Manager of International Labour Organisa-tion, Sushri Bharti Birla discussed various dimensions of the problem of forced labour. Senior Advocate and Member of Law Commission of India Shri R Venkatramani discussed innovative ways through which legislative interventions in the field could be made more effective.
Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh national President Shri Saji Narayanan spoke with the authority that can come only from working at the grassroots level for a long period of time. He said, “the unionisation of workers in the unorganised sector can go a long way in addressing the problem of forced labour”. Shri AK Parashar from National Human Rights Commission highlighted the role being played by the Commission in addressing the issue. He talked about the vast gap between the legislations on the subject and its implementation and the need to sensitise the society and more importantly the Government machinery for any significant positive development.
Swami SARV Chaturvedi, the chairperson of Ramanujan Trust, Chennai held the audience captive with his erudition. He said that it is the responsibility of the privileged sections of the society to speak on the behalf of the disadvantaged and the disenfranchised. He also emphasised the need to bring everyone working on the issue of forced labour on a single platform for it to have a meaningful impact.
Justice Ravindra Bhat of Delhi High Court in his keynote address reminded the audience of the poignant reality of two India existing side by side where a large section of the society barely manages to survive. Quoting from the Indian Constitution and Constitutional Assembly Debates he wondered if we had failed as a society in fulfilling the promises that we had made to ourselves at the time of independence. Shri Gauri Shankar Gupta, treasurer of HRDI proposed a vote of thanks.
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna is playing cheap politics on providing ex gratia payments to Kedarnath disaster victims from other states. Earlier, he had declared that all disaster victims would be granted ex gratia payments without discrimination, whereas Nepali citizens were not eligible for the ex gratia payment as it was contrary to the central Government’s policy.
Now after one month’s interregnum of uttering these words, he has made volte-face rebuking the victims hailing from other states than Uttarakhand, who would not be given any ex gratia payment. Whereas flouting the central Government’s rule, Bahuguna declared that ex gratia payment amounting to Rs 2 lakh would be given to each Nepali victim, mostly the mule, horse-owners, Palaki-bearers, labourers, dish-washers in hotels, etc.
Bahuguna’s this announcement is causing tremendous resentment among the people of Uttarakhand itself, let alone the victims hailing from neighbouring Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and elsewhere. Bahuguna’s cheap tactics, one after another, have given rude jolts to the people all over India. Governments of all other states, NGOs and even individuals had all through been pouring financial aid and relief material into Uttarakhand.
Sources claim that Bahuguna has made volte-face on Nepali citizens due to his obsession with nursing his son Saket’s parliamentary constituency Tehri, which in the recent election he lost to BJP candidate Mala Rajyalaxmi Shah. Here Gorkha and Nepali voters constitute a sizeable chunk, who have become a decisive factor. Besides, he also wants to nurse one assembly constituency in this parliamentary constituency for his younger son Saurabh Bahuguna.
However, CMs of other states have taken note of open misuse of relief funds sent to Uttarakhand by Bahuguna, who had earlier been pouring funds and relief materials into Uttarakhand with open hand. Recently, UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav took serious note of Bahuguna’s flippant attitude towards the relief measures, and stopped giving alms to the Bahuguna Government. Besides Bahuguna’s move has also caused widespread heart-burn among the people of Uttarakhand who bear grudge against Nepalis for various reasons.
Interaction with North-East people in Delhi
Need to tap the huge potential of North-East—Prakash Javadekar
BJP North East India Sampark Cell (NESIC) oganised an interaction with the students and professionals living in Delhi on September 14. Senior BJP leader Shri Prakash Javadekar apprised them with the steps taken by the BJP for the betterment of the north-east region and also for the benefits of the nation during the NDA regime. National Convener of NEISC Shri Sunil Deodhar was also present on the occasion.
Shri Javadekar said North East region is suffering from many problems and the region has huge potential. Today, the IT sector is full of people from North East and if proper job opportunities are provided, they will be happy to return to their home states.
He said during the NDA regime, Atal ji always gave special care to North Eastern states. Many infrastructural projects were started and tremendous work was done in those five years. But in last ten years the situation has just deteriorated, even the National Highway 39 that connects North East is in a bad condition. He said the BJP, if comes to power at the centre, would take up all those projects to their logical conclusion.
Answering the questions posed by the students and professional of North-East, Shri Javadekar said the bad experiences in past have made Vanvasi people unfriendly and skeptic towards people from other states. This situation will change if inflow of capital as well as entrepreneurship is increased in those areas.
While concluding the programme, Shri Sunil Deodhar said it was the third meet of its like; and the concept behind this monthly get-together is to make North-Eastern people understand the BJP’s policies and strategies for them; to stop the migration due to lack of job opportunities and to inculcate a feeling of national oneness in them.
Awareness campaign for organic farming in Gorakhpur
A Jaivik Jagran rally (a rally for generating awareness about organic farming) was organised in Gorakhpur on September 16 under the aegis of Influx Group of Companies active in Uttar Pradesh particularly in eastern part. The procession, joined by over 70 participants including field leaders, dealers and active sahyogis, was jointly led by Shri Ashnarayan Tiwari and Shri Jagdamba Mall. The slogans raised were Jaivik Lao, Desh Bachao, Dharti Mata Kare Pukar, Jaivik Apnakar Karo Uddhar, Keetnashakon ka Prahar, Girta Swasthya Jahreela Aahaar, Kuposhan se Hahakar, Vikalp Ek Santulit Aahar, etc. The gathering at the compound of Commissio-ner’s office was addressed by Shri Ashnarayan Tiwari, Shri Manoj Pal, Shri Sumant Tiwari and Shri Jai Prakash Madheshia. A memorandum was also submitted to Commissioner Gorakhpur Mandal.