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Livelihoods : Background & Perspective

By Mari Marcel Thekaekara

 Several UN and world summits now accede that the achievement of sustainable livelihoods is intricately linked with the eradication of poverty. But between international and government fora where 'sustainable livelihoods' is the new buzzword and the situation at the grassroots is a huge gap. For a decade of structural adjustment and the development-at-any-cost doctrine have conspired to deprive millions of Indians -- adivasi tribals, marginal farmers, weavers and others -- of their traditional means of livelihood.


Land reform: More problems than solutions

Land is the most contentious problem in India today. Although land policy development is taking place, the issue is being looked at in isolation, rather than in the overall framework of human rights, says Mukul Sharma


NREGA: Where is the people's participation?

By Jamal Kidwai and Juhi Tyagi

The gram sabha is supposed to decide on the works to be undertaken under NREGS. But most people in the villages surveyed in Bihar recently had no clue how the work or worksite in their village was determined. This is in complete violation of the principles of decentralisation and local participation, which are as central to the objectives of NREGA as economic and political empowerment


A bargain-basement knowledge 'mandi'

By Rahul Goswami

The new US-India Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture will re-examine and overhaul existing curricula in agricultural education institutions in India. It will also leave Indian agriculture open to the interests of the world's largest food and agri-business corporations, says Rahul Goswami


Dance bar ahead: Keep out : Part 1: Fundamentalisms and sexuality

By Maya Indira Ganesh

The state government has embarked on a campaign to rid Mumbai of obscenity. The dance bars which employ 75,000 women, are amongst the targets. But is this just about dance bars or about the increasingly strident notions of purity and pollution, and about fundamentalism using the bodies of women as their locus of control?


Dance bar ahead: Keep out: Part 2: The right to sexuality

By Maya Indira Ganesh

The ban on dance bars in Mumbai is ostensibly to protect youth from the sexualised environment of the bars. Instead of keeping the shadows and silences around sexuality intact, we need a rights-based approach to young people's sexuality, giving them the right to information that has a direct bearing on their health and well-being


Baina beach demolitions: What about the sex worker's right to shelter?

By Rakesh Shukla

Acting on orders by the Goa bench of the Bombay High Court, around 250 huts belonging to sex workers, on Goa's Baina beach, were bulldozed in an effort to 'clean up' Goa. 'Operation Monsoon Demolition' appears to have been based on the assumption that sex workers have no right to shelter


Invisible, exploited: Home-workers of Agra’s footwear industry

By Aakash Mehrotra

Agra turns out 250,000 pairs of shoes every day. Most of them are made by invisible home-workers at the bottom of the global supply chain, who earn as little as Rs 30 a pair

Informal sector employment in footwear industry


The potential for transformation through MGNREGS

By Siraj Dutta

In Kuira, effective people’s planning and monitoring at the panchayat level has ensured the completion of several useful public works under MGNREGS, quick payment of wages, and a substantial fall in distress migration from the village

Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme


State, markets and civil society have failed migrant workers

India’s growth story rides on the distress migration of the poor and yet this large and growing segment of our population is completely overlooked, says Rajiv Khandelwal, founder of Aajeevika Bureau. In this interview Khandelwal suggests a possible course of civil society action and state policy for migrant workers

Aajeevika Bureau


Island women find freedom from four walls

By Candace Rose Rardon

In Mahinsa, an island village on Orissa’s Chilika Lake, new collective livelihood and self-help groups have helped women begin cultivating crabs for export, supplementing family incomes and giving the women a sense of ownership and purpose


Duped and exploited: Orissa's migrant workers

By Sudarshan Chhotray

Close to 2 million people migrate out of Orissa in search of work every year. Only 50,000 of them are registered with the authorities, making it difficult to protect these desperate migrants from tricksters and exploitative employers


Trafficking is big business along the Indo-Bangladesh border

By Usha Rai

Prostitution has become a booming business on the 151-km India-Bangladesh border. Many of the women, abandoned by husbands or trafficked across the porous border, have entered the trade and continue in it because it provides a steady income. Clearly, the challenge is rehabilitation, not rescue


Papamma's victory marks a milestone in the domestic workers' struggle

By Anuja Mirchandaney

Papamma, a domestic worker in Bangalore, took her employers to court and managed to receive a favourable judgment. This is a historic victory for perhaps the most vulnerable segment of unorganised workers, made possible by the support of a trade union, a dedicated team of advocates and a labour officer who adjudicated objectively


Transferring 26% of mining profits to local populations

The Indian government is thinking about giving local people a stake in the resources mined from their area by offering them 26% equity or payout of profits. But will government implement profit-sharing any more effectively than it implements the rehabilitation of the displaced?


Hope for domestic workers?

By Kathyayini Chamaraj

Karnataka was the first to notify minimum wages and working conditions for domestic labour. But in the six years since, not a single complaint about non-payment of minimum wages has been filed. A recent public hearing in Bangalore proposed several other measures to ensure that domestic workers are not exploited


Yellow metal blues

By Ritusmita Biswas

Despite being employed in the glamorous billion-dollar gold industry, India’s gold jewellery workers work long hours in inhuman conditions and are barely able to make ends meet. Indeed, many gold workers in Kolkata have left their trade in disgust to become rickshaw-pullers and vegetable vendors. Is this the end of the road for this traditional craft?


Beedi-rollers of Biharsharif: 'The living dead'

By Aditya Malaviya

Beedi workers are listed in the schedules of the Minimum Wages Act 1948, which do not list most other home-based activities. They are also entitled to health insurance, maternity benefits and housing assistance. Why then are beedi workers so desperately poor, with no access to these benefits?


Chhattisgarh: Lost battle

The people of Chhattisgarh appear to have lost the battle against industrialisation without rules. Even those who held out longest against the acquisition of their lands, forests and rivers are giving up the fight. Dilnaz Boga travels through the villages of Raigarh district, where thousands are being displaced


"Are projects for people, or people for projects?"

By Kathyayini Chamaraj

A public hearing on the Mangalore Special Economic Zone revealed how rules were flouted and records fudged, compensation was not paid and promised jobs never materialised, and how land and groundwater were polluted



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