Archive for October, 2012

INDIAN’S FIGHT FOR THEIR COMMONS – “LAND” AND RESOURCES, IF THEY WIN, AN ESTIMATED 400 MILLION PEOPLE MAY BE ELEVATED FROM POVERTY.

October 24, 2012

Commons are resources that are owned or shared in communities such as water or land (Berry, 2005) http://www.freesoftwaremagazine.com/articles/commons_as_ideas.
It is understood and recognised that the world has moved from the traditional idea of “commons” as natural resources. Anything that can be held in common by a group of people from natural resources to software can be identified as commons (Berry, 2005) http://www.freesoftwaremagazine.com/articles/commons_as_ideas.  However, it is important to keep in mind that commons is not about the actual resource; however it is also about the social entity attached to it.
Using India as a case study; the commoners of India are not just fighting for their land. They are fighting for their lives. This land will help them raise money for daily activities either by growing crops or goods that can be sold to other local people. This land can help women send their children to school and have them educated.
Is it fair then for a few elites to come and start saying that they own the land. Is it right for the government of India to allow privatisation of land to individuals whilst this will result in displacement of groups of people and also damaging the environment?
The latest update in India on this issue is that, the 60,000 commoners fighting for their land did not do so in vain. Well, on paper anyway. The questions now are; what will happen next? On paper these people will be given land, however how many of the 60, 000 people will actually be given their right and how much support will be given to them by their government

Click on the link below for more information. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/video/2012/oct/09/india-landless-march-delhi-video

IS THIS THE END-TIME FORM OF ENCLOSURES OR ANOTHER DESPERATE EXPROPRIATION BY GOVERNMENT?

October 24, 2012

Last week, I read with utmost disgust and dismay on the Metro Newspaper, of a new supposedly ‘economy-boosting’ government initiative aiming to offer tax-free shares to workers in exchange for them to surrender their hard-earned employment rights, and l can’t help but wonder and ruminate on whether this is really some end-time desperate form of enclosures or just a regular habitual expropriation by our self-effacing government and their behind-the-scene capitalists and economic advisers.

Although, undoubtedly l had known  the crucial moments following  the global financial meltdown, that many capitalist economies, and even the so-called welfare states of Europe and America would struggle hard-line on the home front and tilt desperately to balancing their recovery postures in the face of the world economy in order to minimise impacts of public opinion, politics and to attract business investors, what l could not discern in time is the marked level of desperacy that would inform and follow, or at most influence the tone and direction of public policies, especially those directly impacting on the everyday livelihoods of  middle working class, and the millions  of people far-below the average poverty  mark.

Under this shambolic plan unveiled by George Osborne in UK, it is said that ‘Employees will receive as little as £2,000 if they agree not to sue their bosses if they are mistreated or sacked unfairly’ (Metro Newspapers, Tuesday October 9, 2012).

The damage would have been stopped at that, barring the already harsh economic situation and hard-felt welfare cuts. However,  the irony that followed the government backed policy, which critics are already saying was marred by ‘lack-of-consultation’ was one that workers, and most especially women, will also have to give longer notice to their employers if they intend to come back to work after parental leave; give up their rights for time-off for training; and lose their redundancy protections. You can imagine the scale of slap this would dealt Workers Unionists, who are hell-bent and had fought endlessly to protecting ‘powerless’ worker’s rights which took them several years and struggles to gain, when a case is been made for such pro-rich and capitalist agenda under the pretext that it would make businesses create a new generation of workers-owners.

For workers to own shares and become shared-owners of the companies they work for is not in itself, on the surface value, a harmful idea. What seem harmful about the idea is the suspicious manner at which the economic jugular of existing employees contracts are been strangled at their own expense, and the form in which new recruits will be compelled to sign up for the initiative or lose their job offer, just because the government think there is an incentive for offering employees a £50,000 capital-tax break, which in real terms will actually amount very little to them.

I am not saying the government does not own a right to its own policy-formulation and implementation functions, but must they go as far as deploring further attack on maternity provisions and protections against unfair dismissal? Besides that, it is common sense to know that, owning a few shares would perhaps be worth little to a worker who has already been sacked after giving up their right to claim for unfair dismissal or redundancy payment. So what the UK government is trying to achieve with this sinister policy is still, at most, very unclear, crude, ‘unthought-of’ and should be consigned to the recess of bad-politics, because it seem to me that actually that George Osborne and his economic team are just making another galvanising attempt to putting a price tag on the employment rights of well-able and hardworking UK working class.

Indian sex workers are a shining example of women’s empowerment

October 17, 2012

Hello. I read the below article in the Guardian today. I decided to post it because it is quite interesting to know what other countries in the world thinks about women’s empowerment:

As the alternative Aids summit in Kolkata has shown, society should start treating women who work in the industry with respect instead of disgust. When the multi-country research programme that I direct, Pathways of Women’s Empowerment, began its search for inspiring examples of empowerment, in 2006, few might have imagined it would take us to a collective of sex workers in a town in the heart of Maharashtra in India.

But the stories of empowerment I heard when I visited the Sangli headquarters of the Vamp collectivenot only summed up some of the most important lessons we were learning in the programme about what works to support women’s empowerment, they were also among the most impressive. If I’d been married, I would have been HIV positive by now,” says one of Vamp’s stalwarts, Shabana, reflecting that married women are far more vulnerable than she is as a sex worker, unable to insist on condoms with their husbands as she does with her clients. And her face breaks into a smile as she describes the life she leads: the freedoms she enjoys, her choice of clients, and the autonomy and empowerment she has. “I’m as free as a bird,” she says.

It is all too often assumed that disempowerment leads women to sell sexual services – as a last resort, as the ultimate step before destitution, and out of coercion rather than choice. The sex workers I met in Sangli, however, made it quite clear that being in business – they refer to their work as dhanda, meaning business – was not something they did out of desperation.

Some had been married and returned to sex work full of pity for those women who had to put up with the privations and lack of freedom marriage brings. Some had tried other jobs, and found them tiring, exploitative and badly paid, echoing the findings of the first pan-India survey of sex workers. Sex work was, for them, an occupation they spoke of with pride, despite the stigma. And, they say, this is where the problem lies: with the societal attitudes towards them, and the violence, stigma and abuse of human rights they experience as a result.

Vamp’s mission is to change society. Rather than treating sex workers as victims to be rescued or rehabilitated, it demonstrates the power of collective action as a force for women’s empowerment, mobilising sex workers to improve their working conditions, and claim rights and recognition. And they’re yielding results.

Founded in 1997, Vamp now has more than 5,000 members. Weekly meetings bring the collective together to tackle a wide range of issues faced by members. Health work and advocacy for sex workers’ human rights are interwoven with Vamp’s everyday work in the densely populated alleyways in the red-light districts of Sangli and other towns in the region.

The collective’s work includes HIV prevention with those who sell and buy sex – not only sex workers but housewives who engage in clandestine sex work, men who have sex with men, sex workers’ clients and lovers, and truck drivers whose routes crisscross the state. Vamp works with doctors, the police and the local authorities to combat stigma and violence, offering support and care to people with HIV and orphaned children, and fighting for workers and their families to be treated with dignity.

Recognised locally for its members’ feisty response to the violence and abuse meted out to sex workers on a daily basis, and internationally for the model that its approach to HIV prevention and trafficking has become, Vamp has become a shining example of the power of organisation. Vamp members don’t want to be “saved” by foreign organisations; they want to be respected as human beings. To see them as “prostituted women” is to treat them as not fully human, incapable of determining their own destinies or, indeed, of working together to claim justice. It’s precisely that kind of attitude that perpetuates the abuse sex workers experience.

It’s time that the toxic mist of pity, disgust and moral opprobrium that swirls around the figure of the sex worker was replaced by a willingness to put prejudice aside and listen to and learn from women like Shabana and her colleagues. There are some surprises in store for those who do.