As Migrants Begin their Long Trudge to Nowhere, A Note on Migration in Delhi: Jamal Kidwai

Guest Post by JAMAL KIDWAI

Most of the people in Delhi, like in rest of India (according to official estimates, 92 per cent of India’s work force comprises of informal labour) earn their living from working in the informal sector. There is extensive academic literature on this subject.  Typically, informal economy is that which does not find mention in official data, is not formally registered and regulated and falls outside the tax regulation.

The concept of informality became current in economic and social thought in the early 1970’s. It has since been re-considered and re-interpreted. The idea that the informal sector presented a liminal space for workers waiting to be absorbed by the formal sector, has been negated. Instead, current trends suggest that a majority of the Indian work force (approx.92%) labour under short-term informal contracts.  Well-known labour historian Jan Bremen has somewhere written that the fact the informal economy is not officially regulated does not imply a complete absence of regulation. There are many unofficial means of regulation. Quite often activities that do not possess registration and legal sanction get denoted as informal or ‘underground’. This practice results in the official erasure of the economic value of the goods and services produced therein. It also serves the purpose of masking the over-exploitation and socially-levered extortion to which the most unprotected and vulnerable members of the working class are subjected.

Continue reading As Migrants Begin their Long Trudge to Nowhere, A Note on Migration in Delhi: Jamal Kidwai

Srinarayanadharmam: Raghavan Thirumulpad (Part 2)

The third chapter is about precepts applicable to all human beings;  the aacharyan speaks here on the panchadharmas and the panchashuddhi. The panchadharmas are : nonviolence, truth, non-covetousness, the rejection of intoxicants,  and the avoidance of licentiousness. Dharmoyam Saarvavarnikah, say the earlier aachaaryas, mentioning nonviolence, truth, non-covetousness, celibacy, and frugality as the five crucial dharmas. The Yogasastra mentions these five as the panchayamas. Continue reading Srinarayanadharmam: Raghavan Thirumulpad (Part 2)

Balm in Troubling times – Raghavan Thirumulpad on Srinarayana Dharma

[The lockdown ought to work as a great leveler. For once, all who live in mortal bodies have been reminded of their inevitable mortality, of the absurd fragility of our existence on this planet. Even the living-gods who command a huge following have shut darshan. We have also been reminded that life on earth will not grind to a standstill if we go. Indeed, the signs are that it will thrive. 

But at the ground level, that is not happening. The better-off can see how, starkly, like never before, the privileges they enjoy, and given as they are to an amoral worship of consumption which inhibits their capacity for compassion, are more likely to shield this by resorting to any kind of ideology that justifies their privilege, probably eugenics or some kind of functionalist interpretation of caste oppressive practices. We are seeing how the poor are suffering for no fault of theirs at all. Indeed, the lockdown may help to normalize privilege even more, and render us all the more insensitive to the suffering of the working class poor. One reason why this happens is because we are already, as a society, afflicted by moral viruses — of religious bigotry, caste privilege, and ruthless capitalism. As a society, we are sick, and the pandemic is likely to exacerbate it

It must be this connection that made me turn to the work of Raghavan Thirumulpad, who was one of Kerala’s finest ayurvedic physicians, a multi-lingual scholar whose conception of individual and human wellness was inextricably related to the wellness of society and the natural world. I have long admired the ease with which he moved between theory and practice in ayurveda; but what really connected us as privileged-caste-born people who sought to become human  was that we found in Sreenarayana Guru a common refuge. For Thirumulpad, the Guru is not just a social reformer or preacher but a healer — a healer of society and individual, who drew upon Indian traditions to reinterpret a dharma adequate to the disease that afflicted society in his times.

Continue reading Balm in Troubling times – Raghavan Thirumulpad on Srinarayana Dharma

Appeal for Contributions – A Citizens’ Initiative to Provide Humanitarian Relief to the City’s Working Classes

In the wake of the health and subsistence crisis triggered by the rapid spread of Covid-19 in India, the Citizen Collective for Humanitarian Relief, in association with the Centre for Education & Communication, is organizing emergency distribution of food among the working-class families of Delhi NCR. As part of this initiative we have set up a Mazdoor Dhaba (workers’ kitchen) in Delhi University.

Our aim is to provide two cooked meals a day to those families who have lost all source of livelihood following the complete nation-wide lockdown ordered on 25th March. The cost for one family’s meal (5 persons) is about Rs. 250, and as of today we are able to reach 500 people every day. We need your help and financial support to sustain and expand this effort.

On behalf of the Citizen Collective for Humanitarian Relief

Apoorvanand, Aruna Roy, Avinash Kumar, Lokesh, Najma Rehmani, Naveen Chander,  Rahul Roy, Richa Jairaj, Satish Deshpande, Usman Jawed

If you wish to assist us, please transfer money to the following accounts. If you are an Indian citizen (even if you live abroad), then please make sure to transfer money only to the Corporation bank account. If you are a foreign national, please transfer money to the SBI account.

Bank details for INDIAN CITIZENS:

Centre for Education & Communication

Corporation Bank

SB Account No: 520101261257941

IFSC Code: CORP0000286

Branch: Greater Kailash, New Delhi

 

Bank details for FOREIGN NATIONALS:

Centre for Education & Communication  

State Bank of India

Current Account No: 10786724071

Swift Code: SBININBB710

Branch: Green Park Extension, New Delhi

If you are sending money to these accounts, please inform us of the same by sending an email to the following ID along with your name and address. If you want to send more than Rs 5,000/-, please send us your PAN number. We request the foreign nationals to send a copy of their passport.

Donor Information required for Foreign Citizens

Name:

Address:

Amount donated in foreign currency:

*Please attach copy of valid passport.

Please inform us when you make contribution to following email ids:

accounts@cec-india.org/ finance@cec-india.org

workersdhaba@gmail.com

For queries regarding the relief work, and how you can support it, please contact

workersdhaba@gmail.com

Avinash – +918010833325

Naveen – +919013074978

Praveen-  +919911078111

Richa-     + 919820027364

Usman –  +919953947739

 

For queries the money transfer, please contact the Center for Education and Communication (CEC) by email or on phone

accounts@cec-india.org/ finance@cec-india.org

Ruchika – +919899230545

Covid-19, the Climate Crisis and Lockdown – an opportunity to end the war with nature: Vishwas Satgar

This post written by VISHWAS SATGAR was first published in Daily Maverick

With the coronavirus, we are really trying to mitigate the revenge blow from nature. It’s a moment to be humble and realise our finitude in a wondrous and infinite natural order.

Covid-19 has pushed an already weak and crisis-ridden global economy over the edge. Massive value has been erased from crashing stock market prices. Many commentators are talking about the return of economic conditions similar to the great financial crash of 2007-2009. The most powerful countries in the world from China to the US have ground to a halt.

This pathogen, possibly from delicate creatures like a pangolin or a bat, has engendered the worst global pandemic since the Spanish flu (1918-1920), which killed 100-million people. Death rates are going up globally. Right-wing nationalists in Europe and the USA have been confused as this virus has jumped racist border regimes, and infected all populations. Citizens are no longer concerned about their racist messages, but rather about how to survive.

Continue reading Covid-19, the Climate Crisis and Lockdown – an opportunity to end the war with nature: Vishwas Satgar

Corona Biopolitics and Life After Capitalism – A Manifesto of Hope I

 

‘It seems we are massively entering a quarantine of consumption where we will learn how to be happy just with a simple dress, rediscovering old favourites we own, reading a forgotten book and cooking up a storm to make life beautiful. The impact of the virus will be cultural and crucial to building an alternative and profoundly different world.’ – Li Edelkoort, trend forecaster and fashion advisor

As large parts of the world reel under the impact of a lockdown that has prompted several people to recall the great lockdowns during the early twentieth century Spanisht flu and even the 14th centry plague, my thoughts in fact strayed in another direction. With international and national air traffic down to the barest minimum, with arenas of conspicuous consumption shut down, zillions of cars of the roads and construction activity to a halt, I was suddenly struck by a not-so-crazy thought: with all the suffering that a lockdown necessarily entails for the poorer sections of the population in particular, there might still be a silver lining here. Perhaps the temperature of the earth will have come down a few notches by the time we are done with this crisis and what is more, it might initiate a different mode of being in the world. It might give the world an opportunity to see what is continuously being denied by climate-deniers (as Naomi Klein recorded, backed by huge funds from right-wing US based foundations and  corporations). It might – it just might – reconnect us with what we have long left behind and have been longing for – a different pace of life where slow is beautiful, as it were.

Continue reading Corona Biopolitics and Life After Capitalism – A Manifesto of Hope I

Weaponising Idiocy: Milk-Drinking Ganesha to Taali Bajao

Then and now, a conservative Hindutva organisation had a role in spreading rumours.

coronavirus and cow urine

Representational image. | Image Courtesy: Deccan Herald

 

Yad ihasti tad anyatra, yan nehasti na tat kavcit. ‘Whatever is here might be elsewhere, but what is not here could ever be found’.—The Mahabharata, 1.56.33, from Meera Nanda’s The God Market: How Globalisation is Making India More Hindu, Random House 2009.

It was the fag end of the 1st decade of the 21st century when the historian Rink Shenkman wrote his marvellous book, Just how stupid Are We? Facing the Truth about the American Voter. In an interview, he said that Americans are “ill-prepared” to guide the world’s “most powerful” democracy. The book points out the astounding inability of even “two of five voters” to name three branches of the federal government, the fact that half of Americans think that their president can suspend the Constitution, and a large section’s ignorance of the 9/11 attack and the Iraq war that followed.

His concern was the mass of people who could easily, repeatedly and systematically be misled and manipulated by politicians and further “dumb down” American politics.

This “stupidity” was on full display in images of rowdy college crowds hitting California’s beaches during spring break, prompting the governor to close them down. New York governor Andrew Cuomo warned that “young people are not Superman/woman” when it turned out that people, especially the young, are not socially distancing themselves. But only Americans are not to blame. Media tells us that “virus rebels” are displaying their stupidity virtually all over the Western world, prompting crackdowns by authorities.

There’s perhaps no similar study for South Asia, especially India, probing our “stupidity” in this crisis-time, though there’s immense fodder for it.

( Read the full text here : https://www.newsclick.in/Hindutva-Coronavirus-COVID-19-WhatsApp-Fake-News)

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