Tuesday, December 8, 2009

For the Working People!

It was late morning when Dhatichiyani akka, our domestic help, came running to our house last Sunday, when most of our family had gone to church. She came to tell us that she wouldn’t come to work only on that day because a close relative of hers had had a fall. Her relative is a construction worker and so is her husband. They have all migrated into this city in search of jobs, fleeing perhaps caste oppression or agricultural labor, which is again unreliable thanks to the failing monsoons and of course land grab under the name of development! She had to make the arduous trip to another city, with the promise that she will return by the very next day so that she could save her job here, which anyway pays her a paltry sum. In any case, she returned one day late with the terrible news that her relative may not make it after all, or it would be tough to save his life. But, why did she return, if that’s the state of affairs? Obvious: to save her job and also to arrange for the money the family so dearly needed! It’s with a heavy heart, filled with anger, distress, sorrow, and helplessness I make this post, in the hope that we, the ones who have the means to read this post (we didn’t get here only by accident; there’s an entire class/state machinery that’s working continuously to keep us where we are) will think; yes, at least think when a entire generation of humanity is perishing under our very eyes as we surf channels, read the morning astrological predictions, match horoscopes, meditate on world peace, and shop at lifestyle to deal with our depressive episodes!

Why did this person have to fall? A skilled worker, who has experience in construction for the last 10-15 years, falls just like that and crashes his rib cage! This is how safe our construction companies are! And, the metro bridges crash in Delhi is of course not old news as yet. And, in this case, apparently the construction company, which must be grossing its profits in crores, has the murderous gall to say that the worker must have been drunk and so missed his step and fell! And, these companies will even be recognized with standrads adherence awards for their excellent working conditions (spit on you, you murderers!). In this case, I do not think the worker was drunk; even if he was drunk, why does he have to work under such high risk areas for such something as meager as Rs. 150 (or even less) for a day? And, our dear army personnel are paid in lakhs because they risk their lives every day; and, of course it is a separate matter that they also rape and murder women as part of their job requirements in Shopian and Meghalay! If it’s not bad enough that the worker had to fall in this manner when his management is distorting the case to save their skin, the civil society/government (the great welfare state that we are) doesn’t even have proper hospitals that can give him proper healthcare (where will our government have the time when it brings out stamps to commemorate the great service renedred to the uppermiddleclasses by private hospitals?). Of course, not to mention that the worker has been admitted in a ‘service-minded’ Christian hospital for better healthcare; the hospital apparently says they can’t do much, but please get a hefty amount ready, for which our domestic help rushed back!

Tell me, all of you, who is to blame? Is there a real way out of this capitalist mess? Is there any hope to redeem humanity? Can we really hope to make a new world? Can we break out of this tapestry of violence spun only by greed and selfish motives?

Only these words come to my mind; does anyone have any other alternative? (words in bold are my additions):

The Communists everywhere support every revolutionary movement against the existing social and political order of things.
In all these movements, they bring to the front, as the leading question in each, the property question, no matter what its degree of development at the time.
Finally, they labour everywhere for the union and agreement of the democratic parties of all countries.
The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win.
Working People of All Countries, Unite!
----The Communist Manifesto.


Jai said...

My 'maid', a sturdy female of 30 years from Allahabad, has two children, aged 12 and 5. Her husband, works for a construction company as an overseer. A nine to nine job pays him 3,500 per month; no benefits, no job-security. He is about to lose the position in a month or so. The family lives in one of the fast disappearing vacant plots in developing Indirapuram area in a jhuggi. She works in two homes, earning 1600. Her children are regularly ill. She has had to shift her jhuggi thrice in the last four days, because the plot is becoming occupied and so are other plots. She is in no position to take up rented accommodation in the closest basti, because a one room tenement would cost her 1500, and she will have to quit jobs here and find new ones. Evidently she doesn't have money to back up the transition. The husband is looking for another job. The 12 year child is already a full time peon in a babu's home, where he gets 1000. The little one doesn't go to school.

Jai said...

Today's papers tell us, one-third of India is reelign under poverty. What is the way out: politics? self-help? micro-credit? charity? revolution? communism? socialism? capitalism? development? growth? what!

Anonymous said...

I somehow think we went wrong with the whole industrialisation process. The shift from an agrarian society to an industrial one was commercially successful but eventually detrimental in the long run. All ills that plague modern society (inequality, environmental degradation, commercialism) seem to originate there. I agree with Daniel Quinn who tries to create an alternate history of the world in his book "Ishmael". If there was a way to revert the process or shift to a more humane gear then maybe we have some hope. Otherwise, no. It's all downhill from here. Unless something stops it—either a revolution or a large-scale environmental disaster.


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