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Domesticity and Its Substitute

During the lockdown, the heightened burden of domestic work has been shouldered by women. This article analyses the class dimension involved in domestic work, namely the devolving of the bulk of such work by upper-class women onto domestic workers. The persistent vulnerability of domestic workers during the lockdown and its later phase is examined. The undervaluation and feminisation of paid domestic work has reinforced the gendered image of housework. In the situation of lockdown, wherein paid domestic “help” was unavailable, upper-class women were easily pushed back into gendered domesticity, proving the inadequacy of paid domestic services as a solution to mundane, back-breaking household work. The necessity of transforming the private nature of domestic work, which is more in the direct interest of workers than compared to their richer counterparts, is also further explored.

Identity of a Disease

The intersections of class, region and other social dimensions that go into the discovery and identification of some diseases as epidemics while relegating other pervasive and lethal illnesses as “ordinary” are examined. In this regard, the lopsided relationship between epistemology and epidemiology is explored in detail. It is argued that the combination of Covid-19 with other diseases (also referred to as co-morbidity), as well as undeclared silent epidemics of several other diseases, require recognition.

The World of Domestic Workers

Working at Others’ Homes: The Specifics and Challenges of Paid Domestic Work edited by Neetha N, New Delhi: Tulika Books, 2019; pp x + 314, ₹ 89 5. Domestic Workers of the World Unite! A Global Movement for Dignity and Human Rights by Jennifer N Fish; New Delhi: California, London and Singapore: Sage Publications, 2018; pp xiii + 291, ₹ 895.

Quasi-magisterial Power of ‘Madams’

The “Noida case” in Delhi, whereindomestic workers protesting the torture of one of their ranks were booked by the police for rioting, showcases the exploitation at different levels that these workers and their families suffer. Not only do their employers virtually treat them like slaves but the police and lawyers also take advantage of their helplessness and ignorance to foist false charges and fleece them of their hard-earned money. In this particular incident, a union minister who is also the local MP gave the entire incident a communal colour by insinuating that hard-pressed employers were forced to employ “Bangladeshis” in their homes.

Fears and Furies of Sexual Harassment

The Internal Complaints Committee to deal with sexual harassment cases at workplaces has absolved the state of its responsibility to uphold workers' rights to form labour unions to demand better working conditions. The gender-labour bifurcation, inherent in the ICCs, is erasing rather than establishing the fact that gender discrimination is embedded within labour relations.

Workers' Discontent and Form of Trade Union Politics

An assessment of the Maruti Suzuki Employees Union's struggles against the Suzuki management in Manesar (Gurgaon) reveals that like central trade unions, plant unions also tend to reproduce a form of bureaucratic functioning. This results in a split between leaders and the rank and file - a tendency which often leads to the betrayal of the interests of the struggling workers. This propensity of isolation of the rank and file in workers' struggles is a product of the complex process whereby the trade union form of politics has been integrated within the legal apparatus of the bourgeoisie-friendly state.
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