Narendra Modi and the BJP came to power with a promise that they would double farmers' income by 2022. A committee was constituted in April 2016 to examine issues relating to the doubling of farmers' income. The Committee submitted its report to the government in September 2018 with the aim and strategy for doubling the income of farmers by 2022. The Committee further recommended that farm income has to grow at 10.4 per cent, at constant base-year prices, to achieve the goal.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the countrywide Lockdown in 2020 has been devastating for garment workers. Left without a means of income beginning from March 25, 2020, workers faced multiple blows from transnational apparel corporations to which they produced for, from the factory managements to which they worked for and from state governments that were constitutionally bound to protect the rights of workers.
The life and livelihoods of street vendors have been debilitated post-COVID 19 pandemic. Street vendors who have always been at the receiving end of the State’s wrath through constant spate of evictions from their market places, hafta collections, verbal and physical abuse at the hands of the police, local authorities, and private individuals, have now been deeply affected by the looming economic crisis in the country. Additionally, they are also impacted by the anti-farmer laws as also the growing communal violence and the atmosphere of intolerance in the country.
Given the characteristics of Indian labour market minimum wage becomes very important. Indian labour market is characterized by huge excess supply of unskilled labour. This puts downward pressure on the market wages. Existence of huge excess army of labour may lead to stiff fall in wages, in certain cases, at an abnormally low level. Such low level of wages does not even ensure minimum sustenance and consequently non-fulfilment and reproduction of labour power.
The present coal crisis, which has pushed the thermal power plants to the verge of closure in many states, is another addition to the list of devastating outcomes of the Modi government’s policies over the last more than seven years. Mid-night demonetisation, GST, sudden and unplanned cruel lockdown, handling of Covid-19, NMP and continuous, daily shocks of hikes in fuel prices, to name a few in the series of Modi’s policy decisions which have plunged the nation and its common people in a crisis and devastated people’s lives and livelihoods for the profits of his crony friends.
Zomato’s recent advertisement took the country by storm. It begins with a Zomato delivery worker in awe of having realized that he was delivering food to the Bollywood star Hritik Roshan, who says “Jadoo (magic), you reach on time no matter the weather, are you anything less than jadoo (magic)?”. The star proceeds to request the worker to wait for a selfie. While waiting, hopeful music engulfs the screen as the worker’s phone rings with his next delivery order. The worker promptly sacrifices the opportunity for a selfie with his hero and walks back into the rain for his next delivery.
(Based on the talk delivered at the webinar hosted by the West Bengal unit of All India Bank Employees’ Association - AIBEA on 15 September 2021)