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Labour and its discontents

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Labour and its discontents - Himal Southasian Vol 28 No 1
(Vol 28 No 1)
Labour and its discontents
In the prevailing economic logic of our times – one guided by rising profits, increasing investments and further dismantling of state regulations – little can be found on the predicament of labour across the region. Where labour is discussed, it is largely viewed through the prism of business interests that consider labour rights and laws as inimical to the growth story. At the same time, the labour beat has disappeared from journalism, as our efforts to put together this collection revealed. The lack of attention belies the growing crisis – of decreasing real wages, shrinking opportunities and large-scale migration in search of work. As the articles in the issue illustrate, the problems are similar across Southasia.

In this issue, we take stock of the position of labour is Southasia, examining the struggles and experiences of the workers in the region. While analysing the shortcomings of labour movements, we also feature stories of individuals and groups that assert their dignity and mobilise for a better future.

Articles include:

Balasingham Skanthakumar on the history of Sri Lanka’s labour movement

Weena Pun on Nepali women migrants

Vrinda Marwah on commerical surrogacy in India

Anumeha Yadav on the unrest at Maruti Suzuki plants

Sarah Eleazar and Zoon Ahmed Khan on privatisation and its impact on Pakistan’s workers

Simon Harding on auto-rickshaw drivers in Delhi

Srilatha Batliwala on what feminists can learn from sex workers

Archana Aggarwal on the global retail assembly line

Prashanthi Jayasekara and Vagisha Gunasekara on the lives of Sri Lanka’s street cleaners

Neil Merrett on Bangladeshi labourers in the Maldives


Reportage by Rohit Inani on Delhi as the dumping ground for electronic waste

Photo essay by Sukruta Alluri and Valay Singh Rai on New Delhi’s invisiblised labour

Short stories by Vidya Panicker and Rihan Najib

Review of Vivek Bald‘s Bengali Harlem by Krishnendu Ray

Review of Michael Buckley‘s Meltdown in Tibet by Ross Adkin

Review of Sonali Perera‘s No Country by Ahilan Kadirgamar

Also, look out for our web-exclusive package for more. You can get more updates by following us on Facebook or Twitter.

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Kishore Dave, the bureau chief of the Gujarati newspaper Jai Hind, was stabbed to death at the newspaper's office in Gujarat's Junagadh district. According to a Press Trust of India report, the Superintendent of Police at the local police station said Dave (53) was attacked by unknown assailants at around 9:30 PM on 22 August 2016. Aaj Tak, the Indian television channel, reported that personal enmity prompted the murder.

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  • The world’s dumping yard

    J. Blue, 10 February 2017

    Solid narration. Very important story.

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  • My mother’s head

    Lakbir Mahajan, 06 November 2016

    Hi Sumana,
    I am a person who struggles with words and so my praise will not do justice to your writing style.
    Honestly, I have very little time fo...

    Read More
  • Literary sandbox

    bhumo, 04 November 2016

    Bhuchung, why is late Dawa Norbu not mentioned here? His works are immensely read and applauded.

    Read More