Call for images from the IG Khan Memorial Trust



Calling for images

The IG Khan Memorial Trust is looking for images on the broad theme of
Labour and Dignity. The Trust, founded in memory of the late Dr IG Khan (a
historian and teacher at Aligarh Muslim University who worked on a variety
of social issues), organizes an annual lecture and events in association
with the university on the idea of social justice. For more on our work and
past events, see our website www.igkhan.org

We are looking for images on the (very) broad idea of labour and dignity.
These can be photographs, or drawings, or sketches, or calligraphy,
graphics or graffiti. The images can be to do with gender, work, child
labour, manual labour, obsolete labour, rickshaw pullers, paid and unpaid
work…feel free to interpret the idea in any way. For more details on our
event and work see www.igkhan.org

We will use these images in different forms during our memorial event/s on
AMU campus. Photographers and artists interested in sending work can email
us high-resolution copies at igmemorialtrust@gmail.com with permission for
one-time use. We can give credit (please specify credit line) but cannot
afford to pay for use.

Look forward to receiving your images!

 

Labour MP John McDonnell urges India to end the #deathpenalty #humanrights


THURSDAY 28 FEBRUARY 2013, The Independent

The British Government should use “every mechanism of communication” to urge India to end the death penalty, a Labour MP has said.

John McDonnell said Britain was “uniquely placed” with its shared history with India to urge its government to halt executions and sign up to the UN Convention opposing the death penalty.

Introducing a backbench business Commons debate on the Kesri Lehar petition to abolish the death penalty in India, the MP for Hayes and Harlington paid tribute to the campaigners, many of whom sat watching the debate in the public gallery.

He said that last year when the “first inkling” was received that India was considering ending its eight year moratorium on implementing the death penalty, members of the Punjabi community in the UK, especially the Punjabi Sikhs came together and launched the campaign.

They secured more than 100,000 names on their petition to abolish the death penalty and address other human rights concerns.

Mr McDonnell said “fears were compounded” when in November 2012 India ended its moratorium and carried out an execution, with a hanging taking place in February this year.

In December 2012 the UN voted for the fourth time for a resolution calling for a global moratorium on executions and while 111 countries voted for, India voted against.

He argued there was a “real risk” that with more than 400 people on death row in India and 100 more sentenced to death each year, many more executions were likely to follow unless action was taken.

He said: “First of all we need to recognise the historical relationship between India and Britain means that the UK Government is uniquely placed to urge the Indian government to end the death penalty.

“Therefore I’m calling on the UK Government to use every forum, every mechanism of communication established with India both formal and informal, to press the Indian government to halt the executions now and then to sign up to the UN Convention opposing the death penalty.

“I wrote to the Prime Minister before his recent visit to India to urge him to raise this issue with the Indian government and I hope that the minister can report back on that, and the continuing pressure that successive governments now across party have been placing upon the Indian government.”

Mr McDonnell urged Britain to raise the issue with European partners to seek a joint representation from all of Europe to India on the subject.

He also said Britain should work with other countries to raise this call within the UN, adding: “With a UN Human Rights Council meeting imminent this is an ideal time to place this back on the UN agenda.”

He appealed to India to “embrace humanity by ending the state killing once and for all”.

The Backbench Business motion, signed by a cross-party group of MPs, states: “That this House welcomes the national petition launched by the Kesri Lehar campaign urging the UK Government to press the Indian government to sign and ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which encompasses the death penalty, with the result that India would abolish the death penalty and lift this threat from Balwant Singh Rajoana and others.”

Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire said the death penalty “undermined human dignity” and said the British Government continued to aspire to its global abolition.

He told the Commons: “Use of the death penalty in India is a complex issue and it continues to be the subject of much debate across Indian society.

“It was disappointing India’s de facto moratorium on the death penalty which had existed for over eight years ended with the hangings of Mohammad Ajmal Kasab and Mohammad Afzal Guru last November and February this year respectively.

“Kasab and Guru were convicted of very serious crimes, involvement in the Mumbai attacks in 2008 and the 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament. It is important to remember the impact such acts of terrorism have on the people of India.

“Notwithstanding this, it remains the British Government policy to oppose the death penalty in all circumstances as a matter of principle. I hope the Indian government re-establishes a moratorium on executions in line with the global trend towards the abolition of capital punishment.”

Mr Swire said he had reiterated the Government’s position to the Indian administration last week when he accompanied Prime Minister David Cameron to the country.

And he said the India-EU Human Rights Dialogue would present a further opportunity.

The minister added: “They listened to what I had to say, was aware of our consistent position, and stressed to me the very real fear in India created by these acts of terrorism.”

Shadow foreign office minister John Spellar said: “I congratulate Kesri Lehar for their campaign.

“Uniting the community, whatever their views may be, and also gaining very wide public awareness of the issues we are discussing today.

“I also reaffirm the united determination of this Parliament on all sides to secure justice for the Sikh community of the Punjab.”

PA

 

BMC refuses safai karamchari study leave for TISS course #WTFnews


Sukanya Shantha : Mumbai, Sat Feb 09 2013, , IE
FP

For nearly a year, Sunil Yadav has been trying to take study leave from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), where he works as a safai karamchari, to complete his Masters at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences. It was only through RTI that he got to know the reason for the delay. A “safai karamchari is not qualified to avail the leave”, as what he will learn is not connected to his duties, the RTI reply told him, a stipulation that is incidentally missing from the BMC rule book.

The first person from his family to have gone to college, the 33-year-old has been working as a conservancy worker with the BMC. It was on his third attempt that he managed to get enrolled into TISS’s Masters (Globalisation and Labour) course of two years.

When Yadav’s applications for a study leave received no reply, his course mates swung into action and sought a reply under the RTI seeking the definition of the term “employee” and asking who were eligible for a study sabbatical. In a reply in Marathi, the Public Information Officer of the D Ward of BMC said, “an academic course which is connected with his duty as a corporation employee or is in public interest then the employee may be permitted to attend such a course or a study tour. However, taking this into account, a conservancy worker is not entitled to such study leave.”

Recently, Yadav, who holds a double Masters degree and diploma in social work, was shortlisted for a student exchange programme at the University of Witwatersrand, in Johannesburg. But the recommendation can be processed only after BMC agrees to allow him to travel to South Africa and to continue with his education.

The BMC has even overlooked orders by the National Commission of Safai Karamcharis to expedite Yadav’s application. “Denying/any delay in grant of study leave… may lead to refusal of admission by TISS,” reads the Commission’s letter to the BMC, which had on two occasions sought action taken report.

Calling the BMC’s reply a product of highly casteist mentality, chairperson of the commission Kamlaben Gujjar said, “It is unconstitutional to deny anyone a right to study. Officers of higher grades can any way educate themselves, it is the Class IV employees who need support and affirmative atmosphere to grow.”

While Additional Municipal Commissioner Mohun Adhtani was not available for a comment, BMC commissioner Sitaram Kunthe said he could’t reply. “I have not seen the reply and hence it will not be appropriate to comment on it.”

Conservancy workers, who predominantly come from the Scheduled Castes, have a very low literacy rate. Given the nature of work and lack of any civic measures, life expectancy is very low.

Yadav has been working at night and attending lectures during the day to complete his studies. He is now in his second semester. “I have worked for over seven years with the BMC. In the past nine months I tried several times to find out why I have not been granted leave. But no one cared to respond. Now I understand. The system wants a safai karamchari to remain one forever.”

 

#UK- #David Cameron rejects votes for #prisoners #humanrights


 

channel4

David Cameron rules out giving prisoners the vote despite the advice of his chief law officer in the face of pressure from the European court of human rights.

In response to a question from Labour MP Derek Twigg, the prime minister told the House of Commons that “no one should be in any doubt, prisoners are not getting the vote under this government”.

Mr Cameron was clarifying the issue following advice from the attorney general, who had said the government, under pressure from Europe, may need to back down over the issue of prisoner votes.

The European court of human rights has ruled, in what is known as the Scopola ruling, that there should not be a blanket ban on prisoners being allowed to vote.

International obligation

Dominic Grieve QC, the attorney general, told MPs this morning that the ruling “imposes an international legal obligation on us”.

Giving evidence to the justice select committee, Mr Grieve warned that Britain was obliged to obey the judgment and could face huge damages claims from prisoners.

“The issue, it seems to me, is whether the United Kingdom wishes to be in breach of its international obligations and what that does reputationally for the United Kingdom,” he said. “This is not a matter where there’s not parliamentary sovereignty. There clearly is. Parliament gives and parliament can take away.

However, Mr Cameron said during prime minister’s questions: “The House of Commons has voted against prisoners having the vote. I don’t want prisoners to have the vote, and they should not have the vote.

“If it helps by having another vote in parliament on another resolution to make absolutely clear, to help put the legal position beyond doubt, I am very happy to do that.”

In February the House of Commons voted by a margin of 234 to 22 against removing the blanket ban.

http://www.channel4.com/news/david-cameron-rules-out-giving-prisoners-the-vote

Tea Labourers dying of hunger in Assam


Feb 1, 2012-Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) has learnt about 11 recent deaths due to starvation, malnutrition and lack of medical care in Bhuvan Valley Tea Estate, a privately owned tea garden, in the district of Cachar in North-East Indian state ofAssam. The conditions of at least 5 others are so bad that it would be hard for them to survive a month without urgent medical and nutritional intervention. Arbitrary and exploitative actions of both the estate management and government drove about three thousand labourers and their families on the verge of starvation. The management abruptly closed the garden on 8 October, 2011 without paying wages due for 9 weeks, dues from provident fund and other benefits and alternative livelihood. The government public distribution system (PDS) and health care facilities are conspicuous by their absence. It is feared that without urgent and substantial intervention reports of deaths will keep coming.

BHRPC learnt about the deaths from the reports published on 16 January, 2012 in the local newspaper about a gathering of the tea labourers in front of the district administrative headquarters at Silchar. The labourers gathered to know the outcome of the tripartite meeting among district administration, Barak Cha Shromik Union (a tea plantation labourers union known to be affiliated with ruling political party) and estate management about the situation of tea garden and labourers. Speaking to the news reporters the labourers informed that 9 persons had already been died due to starvation and malnutrition till 15 January.

To verify the claims of the labourers and gather more information about the situation BHRPC formed a fact-finding team comprising of Dr. Prasenjit Biswas, Mr. Neharul Ahmed Mazumder, Mr. Sadique Mohammed Laskar, Mr. Waliullah Ahmed Laskar, Mr. Raju Barbhuiya and Mr. Nirmal Kumar Das. The team visited the tea garden area on 27 January and talked with the victims, their family members, neighbours and leaders of the labourers. This report is the outcome of that exercise.

It is learnt that Rameshwar Kurmi (45), Subhasini Paul (80), Shachindra Ree (32), Shyamacharan Bauri (55), Nagendra Bauri (55), Sonamani Pandey (40), Bharati Kal (45), Susham Tanti (35) Ratna Goala (50) and Atul Bauri lost their lives due to starvation, malnutrition and lack of medical care. All were labourers or ex-labourers of the tea garden or their dependents.

Mr. Ramashish Dushad (80) of Didarkhush Grant is suffering from swelling on his legs and is now completely impaired, his body does not even permit him to get up from the bed. He is an ex-labourer. According to him, he did not receive his dues from provident fund, gratuity and arrears. He has none to take care of him, and he has no such ability to engage someone as caretaker, moreover the management and the government are indifferent about him. He is waiting for his last moment.

Mr. Prakash Ghatowar (80) and his daughter-in-law Moni Ghatowar (32) of Didarkhush Grant are also suffering from swelling on their legs. They also narrated the same story of government apathy and injustices of the management. They are deprived of livelihood, remunerations and proper medical treatment. Prakash is half fed with his family of one daughter-in-law, three daughters and grandchildren. He lost his physical strength and in no position to exert himself in any kind of manual works. His grand children Pinki Ghatowar (17), Kamalabati Ghatowar (15) and Rinki Ghatowar (12) are compelled to collect firewood from the far off jungles and sell them in the far off markets ignoring their studies. Prakash and Moni are suffering from acute mal-nutrition and may die if no early intervention is made.

Belbati Bauri (75), wife of late Debendra Bauri, is also waiting for her last moment. She is week, pale and in need of medical care. Although her son Sricharan Bauri was a permanent labourer in the estate, he was not getting any ration, medicine or remuneration for last six months. Ironically they were regarded as being above poverty line (APL) family, and therefore, are not eligible for government schemes meant for the poor. According to them, other facilities provided by the PDS did not reach to them properly. Other members of the family including a college girl Moni Bauri engaged themselves in hazardous works like collecting firewood and selling them for food and medicine for themselves and the sick members. The family has six members.

Putul Bauri (50) is also suffering from swelling of his legs. His health does not allow him to work, so he resorted to beggary. Wiping his tears again and again he tried to express his sufferings and his anger against the estate management and the labour unions. According to him, the situation of the labourers of the tea garden did not become so bad in a day. It took decades. The labour unions did not raise their voice against the unjust and exploitative policies of the management; for example, wages lower than the all Assam average, non-payment of wages, non-payment of other benefits, gratuity and making the labourers to work overtime without remuneration. Condition of his health is very bad.

Bablu Bauri (25) and his mother Surabala Bauri (55) had been living under-fed for months. Bablu’ father Atul Bauri (60), died recently due to malnutrition and lack of medicine. Bablu was a casual worker in the estate though he worked regularly. They are now confined within the house as it is not permitted by ritualistic rules of their community to go outside the house after death of a family member. They can not go outside in search of livelihood.

Plantation labourers Bashistha Dushad (42), Anjana Dushad (42), Gulab Dushad (50), and some other grassroots leaders like Shyamlal Tanti (45), Budhan Goala (45), Mahendra Majhi (36), Jaharlal Goala, Kamal Ghosh, Nirmal Goala, Luchan Kumar Ghosh and Bachun Satnami narrated the story of their sufferings and expressed their grievances against the indifference of the administration in spite of several representations from them. They stated that for years the estate management was exploiting them in various ways. Some of the labourers were employed as permanent labourers and are paid wages as low as rupees 50/- per day at the time of the closure and the rest were engaged as casual workers and paid even lower wages at rupees 41/- even though they worked for years. It is also alleged that the estate management did not provide any residential quarters for housing the labourers and their families. The management has engaged hired hooligans to suppress the voice of the exploited whenever they tried to protest, the labourers said.

They also claimed that while the neighbouring estates were providing facilities in spite of all drawbacks, this estate was exploiting them. The wages of the labourers remained pending for long under various pretext, they were told that the estate was suffering loss and would recover very soon but that soon did never come. The management tried to push them to such a situation that the workers would be compelled to search for alternative livelihood and would forget their dues. The workers demanded their dues and stopped working. The estate closed down on 8 October, 2012. Since then the management escaped and engaged their agent named Fulan Ahmed, a local resident as assistant manager to suppress the protest. Finding no other way the workers approached the administration several times. The Deputy Commissioner of Cachar district assured them that he would find a way out. However, the labourers are not in a position to trust any assurance from the government or the management.

The labourers and their families living in the garden area further stated that they were also deprived from the benefits of various welfare schemes launched by the central government and state government. For example, there are only about 7 Anganwadi centres in the whole estate where more than three thousand people are living. The centres are run under the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) to provide nutrition and health care for the children, adolescents and gestating and lactating mothers. The Supreme Court of India in People’sUnionfor Civil Liberties and others vs. Union of India and others (Writ Petition (C ) No. 196 Of 2001) directed the governments to establish such a centre in every settlement that has at least 40 children under six but no Anganwadi.

Even these few centres are not properly functioning, according to the local inhabitants. They said that workers and helpers of Anganwadi centres come only once or twice in a month. But they also cautioned not to go by the records maintained in the office of the Child Development Project Officer (CDPO) since they maintain false records to show proper utilisation of the money which they siphon off to other channels.

There are also a few houses granted under the Indira Awas Yojna (IAY) in the garden area. However, the people claimed that most of such houses are grated to the labourers who are connected with management and the labour union affiliated with ruling party of the state. The poorer are completely deprived from the IAY.

There is, of course, a house proclaiming through its signboard to be a health centre run under National Rural Health Mission of the government ofIndia. But the local people informed that it is not functioning properly. According to them, it is run by an unqualified practitioner. Moreover, the medicines are not made available.

There was also a canal reportedly dug under a scheme under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005 (MGNREGA), an Act of parliament that provides for 100 days of work for one person from every household and in case of non-availability of work it guarantees unemployment allowance for the same number of days. Due to corruption the provisions of the Act are not implemented properly, particularly in remote areas. The people of the area stated that it is the only work done under MGNREGA in the garden area and it provided only few workdays for only some labourers.

They also stated that the canal is the only source of water. It gives them water for all types of use. People bath in it as well as wash their utensils, cloths and use the same water for drinking and cooking foods.

It is also learnt that the district authority sanctioned Rs 15 lakh per year for primary health care, but there is no sign of its utilization. There is an ambulance, but the driver demands rupees 400 as fare from each patient, which is not affordable to them.

The meeting in the office of the Deputy Commissioner, Cachar resolved that the estate would be opened on January 23, 2012; but nothing happened like that. Again on January 25, 2012 another meeting held in the conference hall of the Deputy Commissioner. ADC Mr. Debashish Chakrabarti, ADC Mr. S. K. Das, Assistant Labour Commissioner Mr. K. Singson, the MLA and the Scretary of Barak Cha Shramik Union Mr. Dinesh Prasad Goala, Assistant Manager of the Tea Estate Mr. Fulan Ahmed and others took part in the meeting. This meeting decided that a committee will be formed under the chairmanship of the SDO (civil) of Lakhipur Sub Division to manage the estate. The workers are still anxious about their future.

BHRPC finds that the anti labour policy of the management and the political interference has led to this situation; every estate is more or less affected by this. The management exploits the illiterate workers with the acquiescence of the authorities, the government facilities does not reach to the beneficiaries, there is no facility provided for the senior citizens and the healthcare facilities are only for namesake. Malnutrition, illiteracy and uncertainty are the common ingredients of the lives of the tea labourers.

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