ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Precarious Transitions: Mobility and Citizenship in a Rising Power

Over the summer of 2020, millions of migrants streamed out of Indian cities in the wake of the ill-planned lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 24 March 2020. The most conservative estimates suggest 30 million internal migrants in India (Ministry of Finance, Government of India 2018: 267). More realistic estimates peg the numbers at 140 million (Rajan et al 2020). If even half the most conservative figures are trekking back home, we are likely to be witness to the forced migration of at least 15 million people criss-crossing the country to get back to their homes. These numbers most likely dwarf the migrations wrought by the partition, estimated between 10 and 12 million people. At a time, millions have been cut adrift by the Indian state, we need to urgently reflect on what it means to be a citizen.

The Capital–Labour Rupture and the World Order

More than the rise of China, it is cyber-capitalism that is the driving force of the current changes in the global political economy. Emboldened by new age technologies, the capital is now breaking itself free from labour. Its efforts are being supported by the right-wing conservatives who are...

Great Exoduses

Migration has helped India weather many a crisis and also ushered in new challenges.

Raising the 'Labour Question' in a Deliberative Democracy

Today, in India, “deliberative democracy” is failing to translate into social, economic and political justice for its citizens, especially the 450 million workers in the unorganised sector. This is because of the growing gap between the elected representatives and the electors themselves, particularly a deep disconnect between the policies and politics of the state and the needs and demands of the working Indian masses (Yadav 2010). This deep disconnect has come to the fore more vividly amidst the pandemic. The question is: What option do the millions of excluded, overlooked and invisibilised Indian labourers have? Do they quietly accept their sad destiny because it has been served to them by their chosen representatives?

Ustaads, Shagirds, and the Drudgery and Virtuosity of Breakdowns and Repair

Maintenance and repair work constitute an important part of a thriving urban life, in this case, in Karachi, Pakistan. The connection between breakdowns, and repair and maintenance practices is looked at along with evaluating the promises around development and modernity. This is done by understanding the work dynamics of the ustaads and shagirds who form the backbone of all kinds of repair work.

Keeping Cities in Motion

As the cities in South Asia transform into global or “world-class” cities, the lives of those who construct, repair, and maintain these cities are changing. In this collection of articles on repair and maintenance in South Asia, we foreground how the repairers and maintainers of Kolkata, Karachi,...

A New Sociology Awaits Us

Classes of Labour: Work and Life in a Central Indian Steel Town by Jonathan P Parry (in collaboration with Ajay T G), New Delhi: Social Science Press, 2019; pp xxx + 702 (biblio+index), ₹ 1,850.

Gig Work and Platforms during the COVID-19 Pandemic in India

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted workers globally. This article attempts to highlight the impact that the pandemic-lockdown and its subsequent cautious relaxation in India had on geographically tethered on-demand gig workers.

Influence of Virulent Nationalism on Proletarian Internationalism

This article aims to study the global trade union initiatives and their efforts besides understanding the journey of global union federations’ in wading through the forked challenges posed by globalisation on the one hand and nationalism on the other. It is not known if global union alliances are prepared to combat nationalism the way it engaged the global capital. Is the national labour movement getting enamoured and absorbed by the rising nationalism or is the independent labour movement that has gathered momentum after garnering support from transnational labour alliances getting weakened because of rising nationalism?

Gamechanger or a Trojan Horse?

The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, a key legislation in India that enables women to transcend the public–private dichotomy and stake their claim for productive participation in the labour force, saw major amendments in 2017. Four aspects of the amendments—increased maternity leave, maternity leave for adoption and surrogacy, provision of crèche, and paternity leave—are juxtaposed with feminist and constitutional principles as well as ground-level realities and practices. An increase in maternity benefits in law with a neglect of paternity leave and benefits is a lopsided approach that further reinforces gendered division of labour and care work as the domain of women. The social responsibility of employers is emphasised, and a deeper engagement of the state with the policy of parental benefits is advocated.

‘Piloting’ Gender in the Indian Railways

Women loco-pilots in the Indian Railways, although few in number, face unique challenges as they negotiate with masculine forms of labour and technology in a male-dominated work environment. While, theoretically, they are treated at par with their male counterparts, new hierarchies are created on the job when they are expected to aspire to “masculine” standards of performance and discouraged from taking up the full range of tasks designated for loco-pilots. Thus, the entry of women in loco-piloting seems to reinforce its appearance as a masculine profession, and neither is the gendered nature of the system questioned, nor is it actively challenged.

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