Often do we come up with reports like women garment shop assistants forced to skip toilets during their longer than 10-hour shifts. Moreover they are forced to keep standing throughout the shift which can result in cardiac arrest or serious permanent health damages.
This is not merely a case of violation of ‘Right to Health and Right to Dignity’, it is a blatant violation of Human Rights also. However this mode of barbaric medieval torture, no less than slavery resembling the dark philistine age, is not witnessed in garment sector alone. In this “great” “economically-liberalized” India of “Good Days” basking in the “elitism” of attaining the Mars orbit, this type of inhuman torture gets witnessed throughout the country and in every sector specially the private ones(i.e. our “holy cows”).
A son of my colleague had to face the same inhuman ordeal in an overhyped luxurious Howrah shopping mall-multiplex just beside the Hooghly river and near the Vidyasagar Setu. Apart from an absolute ban on sitting a bit throughout his shift which may touch even 12 hours in peak season and highly restricted access to toilets; he and his fellow exploited brothers had to deposit even their mobile phones before joining the work. That means even in the case of an emergency in the family of the employee; his relatives, parents or children cannot contact him!
Yes, cheap, vulgar, brute money of a businessman, trader, entrepreneur or industrialist is infinitely more important than minimum human rights and matters of life and death of poor members of this “enlightened” “progressive” India! So much light, glitter, glamour and “modernity” in the exterior; but internally it still resides in the dark days of slavery resembling pre-Lincoln America! It seems that business/industrialization and humanity are mutually exclusive to each other in India!
When it forms the duty of the civil society, the state and the common people to protest against such horrific inhumanity and gross violation of human rights being practiced in stores, shops, private establishments, factories and industries; our “enlightened” “modern” friends in a section of the media and society are shamelessly demanding “reforms” in labour laws and project trade unions and NGOs as “obstacles” on the path of “forward movement” of the country!
Trade unions are indeed extremely “laggard” in mindset because they create obstacles on the path of industrialists and business groups who are real harbingers of progress and growth! How can the country move forward in the path of growth unless the industrialists and traders make huge profit, even at the expense of all essence of humanity!
So it remains the duty of all to remain absolutely blind when in many modern industrial establishments, workers are not allowed more than five minutes during the entire working day to visit the toilet! Thus the hapless workers find no other option but to drastically cut their intake of fluids, so that they do not violate their quota of five minutes of toilet visit per working day! In the process, they are suffering from many ailments also! What a barbaric assault on human rights and health of the workers! Moreover in many industrial units, workers are paid only eight hours' wages for a piece of work that actually takes them no less than ten hours! They do not get a penny for the two hours of extra work they do to fulfil their work norm.
How can the said industrial units exploit the workers in such a barbaric and medieval fashion if trade unions get recognized! So to ensure that none can prevent the workers from being exploited, the monsters in the guise of those industrialists have virtually exterminated the "nuisance" named trade unions!
And to gain more dominance on the workers so that they can be exploited to the maximum so as to maximize the profit; the industry mandarins, in a mission of taking India "forward", are replacing the regular workers with contractual ones! If the menace named trade unions get recognized, how can the dream of "forward movement" of the country be achieved! Thus to pamper the industrialists, trade unions should definitely be banned from the industrial sector! When the brutally exploited workers express their genuine grievance or demand their entitled dues; it amounts to “muscle-flexing” of the trade unions, the “victims” being the “hapless” industrialists, factory owners or businessmen!
But when basic human rights and dignity of the poor workers get ruthlessly exploited, the “progressive” “modern” lot prefer to look the other way! What an inhuman barbaric class-conscious society India has got “promoted” to! All norms of human rights should be the exclusive privilege of the rich “educated” and “elite” only; isn’t it! And let the poor go to the dogs! This moral bankruptcy is the very reason why India has to beat its own trumpet of “greatness” and “liberalism” in every domestic and international forum. Empty vessel sounds much!
If the “progressive” lot stand on the North Pole and fly aloft the flag of industrialists, businessmen and "growth" by trampling on the human rights of beleaguered workers i.e. our own brothers, sisters and fellow human beings; on the South Pole resides that epitome of humanity Pope Francis. In Cagliari, Sardinian capital, Italy; the Pope commented "We don't want this globalised economic system which does us so much harm. Men and women have to be at the centre(of an economic system) as God wants, not money".
India will have to choose one of the two paths --- "growth" at the cost of humanity as being championed by the “modern” brigade or the Pope's vision of humanitarian growth benefitting all sections of the society. However with the increasing influence and dominance of the privileged lot in highest decision making bodies, it is highly unlikely that the noble policy of 'Live and Let Live' can triumph over the jungle rule of 'Might is Right' in India.
Dignity and rights for all citizens of the country or economic interest of the rich and privileged class by exploiting the hapless weak --- let India indulge in a bit of introspection on the occasion of May Day.