Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Unplayed Piano - Damien Rice


In 2005, Damien Rice, an Irish musician wrote the song “Unplayed Piano” in support of the campaign to free the exiled Burmese leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. It was her 60th birthday and the 10th year of her house arrest.

"Come and see me
Sing me to sleep
Come and free me
Hold me if I need to weep
Maybe it's not the season
Maybe it's not the year...."

Aung San Suu Kyi was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1991 for her non-violent, pro-democracy struggles in Burma. She was placed under house arrest by the military dictatorship of the country without any charges or trial. Her crime: leading a people’s movement for democracy and human rights. Aung San Suu Kyi put the prize money in a trust to improve the health and education levels of the people of Burma.

"Maybe there's no good reason
Why I'm locked up inside
Just cause they wanna hide me
The moon goes bright
The darker they make my night"

She was put under house arrest first in 1989 but was given the offer for freedom if she left the country. She declined. The following year elections were held in Burma and her party won, but the military dictatorship nullified the process. The rest of the world protested but the military held their ground.

"Unplayed pianos
Are often by a window
In a room where nobody loved goes
She sits alone with her silent song
Somebody bring her home"

The period between 1995-2005 saw many ups and downs with her getting released, put on house arrest again and one time she was even imprisoned. She was detained each time for carrying out political activities for freedom which she was barred from. She never left the country for if she did, she would hot have been permitted to return. During this period her husband died in Britain, she could not meet him, he was not allowed entry into Burma and she decided not to leave her country.

"Unplayed piano
Still holds a tune
Lock on the lid
In a stale, stale room
Maybe it's not that easy
Or maybe it's not that hard
Maybe they could release me
Let the people decide
I've got nothing to hide
I've done nothing wrong
So why have I been here so long?"

I make this post today because since the past few days, hopes were building up
in favor of her release as her confinement ordered had expired recently. International pressure, urging the military government to review it in her favour went into deaf ears - the dictatorship has extended her confinement term, which is what the news says.

"Unplayed piano
Still holds a tune
Years pass by
In the changing of the moon"

I don’t know what more I can add to this, I really don’t know what more to say. Except that my sleepy brain at nearly 2.30 am in the morning is thinking about how in one part of the world a nation of people continue to struggle for their human rights while here in my own - in one of the largest democracies, politicians prepare grounds to divide people on the basis of caste lines.

I want to thank my friend Amin for bringing to me this wonderful song – unplayed piano. The quoted portions are parts of the song. It has been sung by Damien Rice and Lisa Hannigan.

35 comments:

Azahar Machwe said...

our nation was always divided..
initially along the lines of religion then wealth and caste.

These ongoing events just highlight those cracks..

India is a union only on paper and that paper is fast growing brittle and yellow with age.

The thinking thinker said...

I would say that this something media (if it feels responsible) should give more attention to.

This will give youths of today a much needed reason to value freedom. We take freedom for granted and should realise that this 'freedom' that we enjoy comes at a price and we should value it.


Yes, Indian society has always been divided. All societies are divided, this can be seen everywhere in the world.
Irrespective of country being small or large. Holding together a large union of states is a difficult task and people have to compromise here and there to make it work. If everybody sticks to their demands, then there is a no way out.

It is upto people to realise that because we are a union we are developing. For example, in eastern states of India - development is less. Reason - Social unrest, which has destroyed the whatever existing tea-estates etc. Businesses need calm, secure enviornment to be a success.

Well, enuff said; cherrios!!!

kalpalata said...

Wait...

Thinking Thinker, you sum up the problem in the eastern states so simplistically...

Think - why there was social unrest to begin with?????

If there is social unrest - should it not be addressed - rather than blame the social unrest for "development", not taking place???????

The thinking thinker said...

No I Do not state the reason so simplistically... Every problem has an underlying reason and various many aspects to it.

That was just something I said as an example. Which cannot be entirely true or false.

I did not mean to offend anybody.

Azahar Machwe said...

I think social unrest and lack of development are two sides of a coin.... one leads to the other which leads back to the one...

if only the people carrying out the struggle realised this.. they are the only ones who have maximum benefit in changing their circumstances...

kalpalata said...

did not understand as to what u meant by ............'if only the people carrying out the struggle realised this.. they are the only ones who have maximum benefit in changing their circumstances'

who realised what?

Azahar Machwe said...

"if only the people carrying out the struggle realised this.. they are the only ones who have maximum benefit in changing their circumstances... "
should be 'realise' not 'realised' sorry for the typo.. was posting late at night...

ambrosia said...

I think what Kalpalata means is - do you think people don't understand what their needs are and are not making efforts for change?

They are. Where ever there has been a repression of a democratic right/s, there has been a movement.

The isssue is how people have been coached to look that such things. The solace is that there are lots of parallel pro-people writings available. The task is to find them. The challenge is to make out the will for it. And success lies in being able to form one's own opinions independently. Cheers :-)

Azahar Machwe said...

by struggle i meant a violent struggle and social unrest...
coz violence never solves anything... it just brings in the negative effects of change...

filial connections said...

hey you guys get back to the point. is social unrest responsible for underdevelopment or non-development. If you say yes then do you say we stop social unrest so we can have development. But then what happens to the reason why social unrest started in the first place? Does development answer it. If for example social unrest was started by ceratin sections who could not participate in development due to social, political, economic exclusions, if they stopped their sruggle and stopped creating unrest, would development then suddenly reach them? Would development change anything for them? I think social unrest and development are not sides of the same coin for the people involved in the struggle. Because those who are involved in the struggle dont share the same coin.

The thinking thinker said...

First thing - Development is long process and takes time to reach every section of society.

5-10-15-20 years.

It is not your instant cup of coffe. You have to give it some time. But, with social unrest the area will never develop and will never get to develop. So you will never get what you are struggling for.

filial connections said...

You make sense. Its not my instant cup of coffee. Its not that nescafe + sugar+milk = coffee. Thats what i am saying too. the same formula that fits elsewhere cannot be applied to a place where there is social unrest. there you have to devie a different formula. otherwise your formula will remain a theory. there you will have to address the issues which need attention first.

Azahar Machwe said...

Theory always looks crisper than reality ;)
Guys and gals wake up n smell the (instant) coffee! Social development wont come till you show yourself to be worthy. Keep fighting like animals and things remain bad.

But then again what does development bring? Is development actually better than the way things are?

The thinking thinker said...

To reap the benefits of development you have to be qualified for that. If you say that you want it and then you are not qualified. Or too lazy to work for it, you will not be able to get the benefits.

Development means lots of hard work from all sections of a community and even harder work is
required to make it reach you.

Azhar the question you have put forward, is very difficult to answer - ...development better than the way things are now?

This depends on person to person.
An ambitious person will view development as an opportunity and needs development to put his energy to proper use.

kalpalata said...

Azahar Machwe, please think twice before you say something.

You say - development wont come to you - if you keep fighting like animals. And then you question - whether that 'development' is good or bad, or worthwhile.

If you are not even sure whether this 'development' is good or bad -then who are you calling 'animals'.

And why do we make the mistake of equating us 'humans' with animals? You know, the animal world is much more disciplined than us. They do not kill, except when they need to have food...and then their killing is according to the laws of nature... which goes to contribute towards the food cycle.

They do not kill, plunder - because of greed, because they want to hoard wealth.

We have much to learn from them, dont use them as a 'comparative' for us humans!

Azahar Machwe said...

kalpalata.. cool down :)
"You say - development wont come to you - if you keep fighting like animals. And then you question - whether that 'development' is good or bad, or worthwhile."
Firstly if you will read carefully I never said 'if YOU keep fighting..' and I never call anyone animals.. I say fighting 'like animals'.
Anyway it was not meant to point towards anyone specifically.

In fact the kind of social struggle where people become animals are where they are denied the basics. People won't become animals till their basics are not met. But people do end up doing crazy things when they are pushed into a corner by the very people they thought would protect them (as often happens).

And as to the question whether development is good or bad.. it often depends on who is doing the development and what kind is it..

Take Kashmir... if tomorrow the situation becomes ok and business and industry starts entering Kashmir would that be development?
Would it remain development when they start cutting up forests to make way for new hotels and houses?
Maybe people who work in those new hotels and factories see it as development but people whos lives depend on forests see it as plundering... and thus sparking of a new struggle to protect their source of income.

Thats why I said that it is very important to think about what development means since it is a relative concept.

The thinking thinker said...

Calm down people... I think we are trying to have a dicussion not fight. East/West/Kashmir they are just being taken as examples. NOT on personal BASIS to PICK UP FIGHT or show SOMEBODY DOWN.

I thought bloggers are intellects/intelligent people who can openly discuss world problems etc without getting into a fight.

Well, I think I am wrong.

God bless all!!!

filial connections said...

But thinking thinker how can you expect a person who is denied even the basics to be ambitious and to participate in development. For him you have to first make the playing field level, dont you think? For example, Gurgaon is now getting colonised by different groups of builders. Each day construction starts on a fresh plot of land. Every construction site has a slum colony of labourers working on the projects. they are mostly migrant labourers. They get work opportunities, ok, but does anything change for them in terms of a better quality of life. NO. there was a slum cluster right next to our house. We saw how the little boy, barely 10 years old, left school because it was a waste of time, how the daughters were never sent to school at all, how they were sent out to work, and we heard how they got harassed. Then one day when their work was done in our colony they were told it was time for them to leave and they left to set up shanties somewhere else. So what did development change for them?? Whose development are we talking about. Ambition? thats a word that does not exist in their dictionary not because they dont want to work but because they have no time after work to think about it, because even if they had, time they cannot participate in development because they do not have the skills to. Invest in development fine, but you have to invest on primary education, health, housing.........., too to make the playing field level for all. there are levels and levels of state responsibility. It does not cease at just one.

The thinking thinker said...

That is the saddest part of life esp in India and other developing countries. This just makes me too sad. But violence is not the answer still.

I think I have nothing to say after this. It hurts to see such kind of people and makes me wonder how can I help them.
Well,

I have nothing to say further.

Hmph...

filial connections said...

i thought we WERE having a very fair and intelligent discussion. Dont know why your faith got so shaken thinking thinker. the only person who has got personal here is you.

kalpalata said...

You know something...its a big question - that what is to be done? Sometimes the problems are so overwhelming that we just try and avert our eyes, thinking what can we do?

Even people who are struggling for their basic rights, do not really need pity or sympathy. Perhaps what they really need is respect for their dignity.

AND we can do something about that. Have a look around us - and treat people with respect, the people who work for us, the people who work in our homes, the people from whom we buy services...treat their jobs with dignity, relate to them with dignity. How often do we haggle with a rickshaw puller to bring down the fare by a ruppee or two on a hot summery day - and then buy a soft drink for double the price without batting an eyelid? How do we treat the woman who cleans our house? Do we have children employed in our homes?...

You say, violence is not the answer to anything. Thats true. I have a friend in Afghanistan who is working with the relatives of people who are supposed to be detained in Guantanamo Bay. He was once saying that boys as young as eleven years old have been arrested by US military forces and are now in G'Bay. Then he told about a story of a mother who lost five sons and two daughters in bombings by the Russians and then one son in the recent bombings by Americans. Their house was searched many times by the US forces, and the last time, they opened a trunk in which the mother kept the blood stained clothes of her children. The American forces said that the clothes were that of Talibaan terrorists and arrested her husband and the only son alive. She now lives with her grand daughter and daughter in law. Her story caused my friend, who has heard plenty of similar stories, depression for some time. He questioned as he must have done many times before - what do we mean when we say we have brought democracy to Afghanistan? Education, employment, economic opportunities are still non existent...

And I wondered - that this is not the story of just one woman and her family... there will be many such mothers, many such children whose childhood have been torn apart for reasons that they know nothing of... And in a situation where there are no productive opportunities to channelise their anger, their frustration, their energy - is it very surprising that they take up violence???

No - I dont condone violence. But I think we cannot simply say that violence is not the answer to problems. Perhaps we need to understand also - why do people resort to violence? What causes them to take arms. If we cannot address the issues - then however much force we use - we might suppress the violence for sometime - but it is sure to raise its ugly head again.

You talk about north east india...I once had a friend - who during his college years was pushed out of the north east by his family - sent to a different part of India to study and make soemthing of his life. He used to say that had he stayed in his home for a few more years - he would have been forced to join the insurgency. There was so much desperation between the youth as the education system was in shambles, not enough jobs, and a very non responsive government system.

He had the resources to make an exit, so he was luckier than his friends...

Azahar Machwe said...

The main point is..
When you go up to meet god (hopefully!) then they wont ask you how many comments you posted on a blog or what kind of things you wrote/said. You will be asked what did you do to bring about change.
Often change does start with talk but how quickly that talk turns into worthless discussion is amazing.
filial connections: you talk about the plight of labourers. The root cause for them to be there is the fact that back in their villages they dont have anything to live on and they are also harrassed by the upper class. Of course the State is nowhere to be seen in such a setting.
How can we address this? Provide job opportunities for people. Ensure a fast and fair system of justice.

But surprisingly cheap labour is the source of India's growth. Since we have such a large % of population living below the poverty line, cheap labour is one of the things needed to fuel the growth of the country and to bring people above it.
You will find in most cases if the parents are labourers or rickshaw pullers or even housemaids.. they always make sure that their kids get a better deal. At least the labourers child went to school. Probabaly this did instill in him the importance of education and he will make sure that his kids don't get pulled out of school?
Change is often slow and just as any engine needs fuel to run, this engine of change needs cheap labour and other such things to run.
In the short term it seems quite cruel and heartless... but in the long term we shall see these labourers as the heroes of a new India who (maybe unknowingly) sacrifice their today so that you and I can get what we have and in the long run the country can grow.

In fact its not just the case of labourers.. its there for each and every person working on an outsourced job where they get a fraction of what their counterparts in the source country get paid. The kind of jobs our people do, the work pressure, the odd hours.. all this sacrifice is there so that we have a brighter today and their children can have a brighter tomorrow.

Kalpalata: the problem is that when we look at the NE or Kashmir or Afghanistan.. the only way we can bring about change is by a social effort. Education and Jobs are something which we the common people can bring in. The reason I say this has to be done by the common people is because anything done by the govt will be seen by the insurgents as a ploy. Remove the reason for the insurgency.

This needs two things.. money and the will of one person. I know it is not as simple as it sounds.. but let us remember that if someone like Gandhi with his will could motivate and mobilise the entire Indian sub-continent I am sure the same can be done with the NE.

In all this one also needs to be careful about some people behind the insurgency... who are seeing their own benefit... for them economic growth is bad because then they will not have the same control over the people.

What say you?

filial connections said...

"Of course the State is nowhere to be seen in such a setting."

Exactly that is where the problem is. The State was nowhere to be seen when the person had to leave his native place to find job opportunities elsewhere. Why could the State not ensure job opportunities in his native place. You may have heard about the Rural Employment Gurantee Act. Is it enough to have an Act? Is the State not supposed to implement it too? It was nowhere to be seen when the builder refused him even minimum wages, when he and his family had to set up house under a 7X7 ft shanty, when his son left school because even if he went there he did not see what use it was to him, when the entire family had just one proper meal a day, when the son had 104 degrees fever and the local quack charged 40/- for just consultation.

What pray was the state doing. Why pray do we pay taxes to have the State machinery atall? Azhar please first tell me what your concept of the State is. And refer to Article 21 of the Constitution. The State is supposed to guarantee the Right to life and to live with dignity of EVERY citizen of India ?"

"How can we address this? Provide job opportunities for people. Ensure a fast and fair system of justice."

I respect your enthusiasm to address this yourself. And we CAN do our bit in our own ways. BUT whether we do it or not is our wish. If we do we are giving back what we take. If we dont know noone can crucify us. The labourer there cannot DEMAND a job from me. But it can DEMAND it from the State because the State is under obligation to provide him with a job and not only a job but a better quality of life. refer to our Constitution and refer to the International Covenant on Economic Social Cultural Rights which our State has ratified. Refer to its legally binding obligations under these documents.

Secondly i dont quite see how you expect you and me to ensure a fast and fair justice system?? How exactly please shed more light.."

“But surprisingly cheap labour is the source of India's growth. Since we have such a large % of population living below the poverty line, cheap labour is one of the things needed to fuel the growth of the country and to bring people above it.”

The logic escapes me. Cheap labour is needed to fuel growth since we have such a large percent age living below the poverty line you say. So you mean if you have ingredient A, B, C and cheap labour which can be used as building materials for the product which is growth, then use the cheapest of these so as to cut costs and since labour is the cheapest use it??? Aren’t you equating people, men and women to things? Isn’t that the entire definition of EXPLOITATION?

And why is labour cheap Azhar? The character of labour as it comes is not cheap. Its cheap because we do not remunerate it according to its worth. So you are saying employ them because they wont object anyways and pay them two pennies. See again this is what happens when you absolve the State of its responsibility. The labour cannot object because the State is not listening. And so they are made into cheap labour without impunity.”

“You will find in most cases if the parents are labourers or rickshaw pullers or even housemaids.. they always make sure that their kids get a better deal. At least the labourers child went to school. Probabaly this did instill in him the importance of education and he will make sure that his kids don't get pulled out of school?
Change is often slow and just as any engine needs fuel to run, this engine of change needs cheap labour and other such things to run.
In the short term it seems quite cruel and heartless... but in the long term we shall see these labourers as the heroes of a new India who (maybe unknowingly) sacrifice their today so that you and I can get what we have and in the long run the country can grow.”

How easily you romanticize. They make sure their kids get a better deal, all parents want to do that. But that which is better for them is it enough? What is their means afterall after we have made them into cheap labour? The laborers child went to school yes but I also said he left school when he was barely 10. What importance of learning did it instill in him? Change is slow but the ball has to be set rolling. The change would have been put into process if the State had ensured he stayed in school and the slow change would have materialized when he could give his own kids a better deal because he did much better for himself than his father.

Nothing need be cruel and heartless in the short term either. Taking your example of cheap labour again. They don’t want to be paid 10,000/- a month they just want the minimum wages that the Act guarantees them, and workers’ rights when they are injured during work etc. Why should it take 20 years to ensure that?

Who are we to sacrifice them? Why did we decide to sacrifice them? Who gave us the right to sacrifice them? Who told us they want to be heroes and martyrs. They just want to live. And it’s their right to live.”

“In fact its not just the case of labourers.. its there for each and every person working on an outsourced job where they get a fraction of what their counterparts in the source country get paid. The kind of jobs our people do, the work pressure, the odd hours.. all this sacrifice is there so that we have a brighter today and their children can have a brighter tomorrow.”

You really think we can equate you, me and cheap labour are at the same level??

filial connections said...

Ambroisa please delete my earlier comment. My entire comment did not get published so am republisihng the same. Sorry to mess up your blog.

"The main point is..
When you go up to meet god (hopefully!) then they wont ask you how many comments you posted on a blog or what kind of things you wrote/said. You will be asked what did you do to bring about change. Often change does start with talk but how quickly that talk turns into worthless discussion is amazing."

I will let go the God part. Why you bring him into this i am not so sure. But something i am also not so sure about and would like you to shed more light into is why you are so inclined to think that our talk is worthless discussion. Maybe i will comment more on that after you shed more light.

"filial connections: you talk about the plight of labourers. The root cause for them to be there is the fact that back in their villages they dont have anything to live on and they are also harrassed by the upper class."

When you say labourers come to Delhi and other places where they find work because they dont have anything to live on back home you are right. I dot know if they migrate because of harassment from upper class. Yes they do migrate for work. But i dont agree that the plight of labourers is the way it is because they had to migrate. Yes they had to migrate for lack of work but when they found work in Delhi or Guaragaon or elsewhere their plight could have been better. How? If the State was doing its job.

"Of course the State is nowhere to be seen in such a setting."

Exactly that is where the problem is. The State was nowhere to be seen when the person had to leave his native place to find job opportunities elsewhere. Why could the State not ensure job opportunities in his native place. You may have heard about the Rural Employment Gurantee Act. Is it enough to have an Act? Is the State not supposed to implement it too? It was nowhere to be seen when the builder refused him even minimum wages, when he and his family had to set up house under a 7X7 ft shanty, when his son left school because even if he went there he did not see what use it was to him, when the entire family had just one proper meal a day, when the son had 104 degrees fever and the local quack charged 40/- for just consultation.

What pray was the state doing. Why pray do we pay taxes to have the State machinery atall? Azhar please first tell me what your concept of the State is. And refer to Article 21 of the Constitution. The State is supposed to guarantee the Right to life and to live with dignity of EVERY citizen of India ?"

"How can we address this? Provide job opportunities for people. Ensure a fast and fair system of justice."

I respect your enthusiasm to address this yourself. And we CAN do our bit in our own ways. BUT whether we do it or not is our wish. If we do we are giving back what we take. If we dont know noone can crucify us. The labourer there cannot DEMAND a job from me. But it can DEMAND it from the State because the State is under obligation to provide him with a job and not only a job but a better quality of life. refer to our Constitution and refer to the International Covenant on Economic Social Cultural Rights which our State has ratified. Refer to its legally binding obligations under these documents.

Secondly i dont quite see how you expect you and me to ensure a fast and fair justice system?? How exactly please shed more light.."

“But surprisingly cheap labour is the source of India's growth. Since we have such a large % of population living below the poverty line, cheap labour is one of the things needed to fuel the growth of the country and to bring people above it.”

The logic escapes me. Cheap labour is needed to fuel growth since we have such a large percent age living below the poverty line you say. So you mean if you have ingredient A, B, C and cheap labour which can be used as building materials for the product which is growth, then use the cheapest of these so as to cut costs and since labour is the cheapest use it??? Aren’t you equating people, men and women to things? Isn’t that the entire definition of EXPLOITATION?

And why is labour cheap Azhar? The character of labour as it comes is not cheap. Its cheap because we do not remunerate it according to its worth. So you are saying employ them because they wont object anyways and pay them two pennies. See again this is what happens when you absolve the State of its responsibility. The labour cannot object because the State is not listening. And so they are made into cheap labour without impunity.”

“You will find in most cases if the parents are labourers or rickshaw pullers or even housemaids.. they always make sure that their kids get a better deal. At least the labourers child went to school. Probabaly this did instill in him the importance of education and he will make sure that his kids don't get pulled out of school?
Change is often slow and just as any engine needs fuel to run, this engine of change needs cheap labour and other such things to run.
In the short term it seems quite cruel and heartless... but in the long term we shall see these labourers as the heroes of a new India who (maybe unknowingly) sacrifice their today so that you and I can get what we have and in the long run the country can grow.”

How easily you romanticize. They make sure their kids get a better deal, all parents want to do that. But that which is better for them is it enough? What is their means afterall after we have made them into cheap labour? The laborers child went to school yes but I also said he left school when he was barely 10. What importance of learning did it instill in him? Change is slow but the ball has to be set rolling. The change would have been put into process if the State had ensured he stayed in school and the slow change would have materialized when he could give his own kids a better deal because he did much better for himself than his father.

Nothing need be cruel and heartless in the short term either. Taking your example of cheap labour again. They don’t want to be paid 10,000/- a month they just want the minimum wages that the Act guarantees them, and workers’ rights when they are injured during work etc. Why should it take 20 years to ensure that?

Who are we to sacrifice them? Why did we decide to sacrifice them? Who gave us the right to sacrifice them? Who told us they want to be heroes and martyrs. They just want to live. And it’s their right to live.”

“In fact its not just the case of labourers.. its there for each and every person working on an outsourced job where they get a fraction of what their counterparts in the source country get paid. The kind of jobs our people do, the work pressure, the odd hours.. all this sacrifice is there so that we have a brighter today and their children can have a brighter tomorrow.”

You really think you, me and cheap labour are at the same level??

Azahar Machwe said...

Hi filial connections..
I have posted my reply on my blog as a new post. titled
FOR filial connections
so that I can format it better and we do not clutter up ambrosias blog further.
You can post a reply to that on my blog.
I hope you wont have any problems with that... if you do then let me kno and I can post it here as a comment or email it to you.
The link: http://amachwe.blogspot.com/2006/06/for-filial-connections.html

kalpalata said...

*****In the short term it seems quite cruel and heartless... but in the long term we shall see these labourers as the heroes of a new India who (maybe unknowingly) sacrifice their today so that you and I can get what we have and in the long run the country can grow.*****

Pleeeeeease let not me and you glorify these cheap labourers. Its like how women were glorified in our country as deities and worshipped - ma durga, ma shakti, ma saraswati, ma kali - and then discriminated against...not sent to school, burnt for dowry and what not...All in the name of a 'good women', the ideal bahu, the ideal sister, the ideal ma - like 'sita', and 'parvati'.

No - I dont want to build my wealth on the backs of cheap labour....once in a meeting a person from the labour movement said, that whenever they ask for increase in minimum wages - they are criticised for it would increase in rise of all other prices...And he said - that such a fear comes true - only when we assume that whatever comes, the profit margins should not decrease!!!

Flip through the pages of a newspaper from Bangladesh. There were export processing zones there - where garment factories were allowed to function and all labour protection laws were suspended to encourage foreign investment. Last month rioting broke out in the factories - cause of the low wages and the long hours of work. It’s a survival issue for them and I don’t think they want to be ‘sacrificial offerings’ at the altar of economic growth and development.

Azahar Machwe said...

The question is not what can be or cannot.. the question is what is happening...
Like I said sacrifice is often not a matter of choice. They dont have any other kind of support (Govt./Corporate/Social) therefore they take the only way out. Everyone needs the basics and they will take whatever work they can get to fulfill it.. till an alternate is not shown to them.

I do not seek to glorify them. It is funny you say so. Because my intent is not to build a monument to them which gets a fresh set of flowers once a year. I just want their work and sacrifice to be recognised.

See the problem is not with the inc or dec of profit margin... what matters is where that profit goes. If a fixed % of the profit margin goes towards the welfare of workers then I am all for increasing profits (coz that means increase in money for welfare). If a fixed % goes towards education of the workers children then once again I am all for it.

Capitalism only goes wrong when greed comes into the picture and we forget who got us that big fat profit this and Research n Dev. are the two things which will lead to long term growth.

http://amachwe.blogspot.com/2006/03/sensex-at-11k-theory.html


Too bad people get emotional without thinking about these things... and seek to give a final argument in a debate which really has no end.
:)

filial connections said...

I bring back the discussion to the original forum. Ambroisa can indicate when we become a nuisance:)) Anyone interested may refer to Azhar's blog to see what the comment is on.

Er……… Azhar. A writ petition is filed against violation of Fundamental Rights. FRs are guarantees given by the State to the people and are justifiable, which means for their violation citizens can go to court against the State. Writ Petitions are the kind of petition which are filed by citizens against State for violation of FRs. It cannot be filed against a fellow citizen. Labourer cannot file a Writ Petition against his employer unless the employer is a State Agency. The State is under an obligation to ensure that the fundamental rights are enjoyed by all – by setting appropriate systems and structures in place including laws. So if a private company is violating any of my fundamental right – I will still somehow have to prove that the State failed in its duty to protect my fundamental rights from being violated…

Article 21 just does not say what you think it does. It says that every person has the right to life. And the duty to ensure this right is on the State. It is a very potent Article don’t dismiss it so easily. It is because the Article was used against the State so effectively that the Right to Education which we earlier strived to read under it, has now become a Fundamental Right.

You do very good when you elect the people you think are right. You are a very good citizen too as you pay your taxes and provide money to the State to do its work. But you see still State often does not act due to various political reasons. So therefore there are agencies which monitor State’s actions. There are numerous ways of doing so. One such way is budget monitoring by which method the budget prepared by the State is looked into and they try to see where the money is going. Whether too much money is being allocated towards defence and too little towards education, health etc. And then armed with this information the State is tried to be made answerable as to why there are not enough hospitals, schools etc. It IS a very slow process but a very workable one. You know ofcourse that India is answerable to the ICESCR committee for what it does to ensure these rights to its citizens? So there are ways of making the State responsible dont lose heart so easily.

Ah well again the tendency to find simplistic solutions.

Frivolous cases may be a nuisance in the judicial system. But its too simplistic to say they are the cause of the non-effectiveness of the judicial system. And its so easy to put a moral burden on people not file frivolous case, but moral burdens are not binding on anyone. So there the problem remains.

Bribing again is one of the things which are wrong in the judicial system. But it arises because it is allowed to happen. By whom? By those who take them. By those who do not take action against those who take them. And all these people are State Agents right down from the court clerk to the Judge himself. Because the judiciary is a State Organ. So that is why again the State is responsible.

Yes PILs have a lot of potential. But they are also a problem when filed indiscriminately for fame and name. By the way who do you think the PIL is filed against? The STATE! You cannot file a PIL against a private person. But here I would ask you to tread with caution.

And the rest IS indeed an fruitful debate because pragmatism and romance can never find a meeting place.

kalpalata said...

Well, maybe I can learn somethings from you. Tell me...

There are these garment factories in the EPZs. The State usually relaxes all labour protection laws in these zones to make it more competitive. So the wages are low, long working hours and bad working conditions. The workers are asking for more wages. And the industry is resistant to increasing it. Are you suggesting - that employers be requested to invest on education of workers and somehow we overlook the issue of minimum wages?

See - I agree that employers should contribute to education, but I think - it should not be dependant on the nobility of the employer. It should not be 'welfare', but a 'right'. Workers have a right to decent working conditions, where there are women working, they have a right to demand creche facilities, they have a right to leisure, they have a right to reasonable working hours...

And these rights - should not be dependant on profit margins. They should be non negotiable rights.

Azahar Machwe said...

Great going fillial managed to pick out mistakes in my arguments... :)
1) I do no dismiss Art 21 easily.. like I said it is one of the most debated Articles.

2) About your comment regarding frivolous cases and corruption.. see thats the problem with most people... who rather put the ball in someone elses 'court' (sorry for the bad joke) than their own.
You say its the States fault for allowing corruption in the Judiciary and State is wrong etc. well dear WE ARE the State. And thus the kind of people we are thats the kind of state we get.

So start the change with yourself and your kids and your family. Tell them not to pay bribes.

If you are a lawyer don't go filing cases which can be resolved by just making the two parties sit across the table (seen many such cases!). If you are a normal person don't think with your ego added in.

Even when you do file cases against the State as PIL or under 32/226 you are still targeting a person who is occupying some position in a Govt agency/office. So start the change there. Target those officers/agents who control things like rural development.

3) I don't know how effective the ICESCR committee could be for such situtations. I think in the end if we don't care about our own people how can we expect someone else sitting thousands of miles away to talk to us and address our problems?
Maybe you can shed more light on this?
It doesnt prevent the violation of HR in India (in some places like Kashmir on a DAILY basis)? I was speaking to some lawyers from Kashmir doing their LLM in Human Rights. They were telling me that there are procedures for appealing to the UN and some times they are effective too but because nothing is free of politics (even the UN) there is often the tendency to 'look the other way'.


-----------------------------------
It IS a very slow process but a very workable one.
-----------------------------------

EXACTLY! Finally the light at the end of the tunnel! I have not lost any hope. In fact what I think is that we can't just blame the state and hope that UN will come to our rescue. No way.
I think till now we have been ruled by the State which we helped create.
Thus the change cannot come from the State only. It has to come from within us as well. Its not something that you can say State is the big bad bully for allowing labourers to be exploited.
Any movement has to start from the mindset of the people. Because we make the State. If our mindset changes then indirectly we change the State.

Extreme practicality and extreme romanticism are both bad. But I disagree with you where you say that both cannot meet.
Often a mixture of the practical and impractical is the only way out of a tight situtation.

Mahatma Gandhi's way of peaceful protest seemed impractical and romantic to many people during the freedom struggle. But it did have a major impact on the British.

See being practical all the time can often lead to frustration the same way as being romantic all the time can lead to frustration.

Combine the two.. keep an open mind so that you can bring the change within you. It is a difficult thing to do... but I believe that if you cannot change yourself for the better then you have no right of going around trying to change anything else.

This in no way means you stop struggling for justice and your rights. It just means that as you struggle outside so you must struggle within to bring change.
:)
BTW I was just wondering... what did happen to the labourer family.
Did you do any work with them?

Azahar Machwe said...

Firstly education was just an example and in no way should human rights be negotiable.

What I mean is that even if you give them very low wages supplement that in some way. Maybe by providing day meal to the workers? Or by funding free education for their children and providing free health care?

In fact in EPZs there could be a policy of supplementing the income. For example the State (or the industries or both in partnership) can build a colony near the EPZ for the workers working there. So while you are working in EPZ you (and family) get to live in the colony for free or minimum rent?


These are just some ideas.
The main point like I said is to supplement the low wages by providing something else.

Maybe you can throw more light on this since you seem to know a lot about the situations in these EPZs and other such places where people are exploited? Since you seem to have knowledge about these places I wanted to ask you is there no help available to the workers in form of say lawyers willing to take on the State/industries or international aid agencies?

I saw this documentary 'The Corporation' and there are Govt. agencies in the countries where goods manufactured in such EPZs are sold. They do act against the people originally responsible for creating these kinds of sweat shops. I don't know how effective or active they are.

The only reason I said re-invest the profits because that is the main thing industries are after when the relocate to these EPZs. In fact many times it might be more effective to provide support services and facilities for the workers as well as the industries than to just increase the wages.
Because we know that an increase in wages doesnt always translate into an improvement in the lifestyle of the worker. That is the hard part because we don't know whether that increase is going towards savings or not. With supplements you are guaranteed to improve the conditions of the worker.


:)

Azahar Machwe said...

Fillial Connections
Oh yes.. and
"A writ petition is filed against violation of Fundamental Rights"
- it is not confined to fundamental right
even a legal right violation can be addressed using a writ petition.

Are you a lawyer by any chance?

Azahar Machwe said...

hahahah my favourite blogger and comment makers have gone to sleep is it? or maybe everyone is out on their annual vacations to escape the heat... :)

Meera said...

Hey Ambrosia ! Where are you ? Really miss your posts. I hope everything is fine. Take care !

ambrosia said...

Thanks friends. Meera, I had an entertaining as well as an enriching time reading your posts today :-)