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 (full article available)

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 (full article available)


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 that complements this issue. You can get more updates by following us on Facebook or Twitter.

Buy now - rest of the world Buy now inside Southasia

You can find the issue in book stores starting April 2015 or buy them in their print or digital formats online  (shipping will begin in April). You can also get the subscription to Himal here. Do check this page (and our Facebook and Twitter profiles) to get the latest updates!


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  • Hussain Miyan’s last journey

    Dipanwita Chakravarty, 10 September 2019

    A good read

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  • Hussain Miyan’s last journey

    Pankhuri Zaheer, 09 September 2019

    What a beautiful well written story! Couldn't stop reading it once I started. Can't wait to read more by the author.

    Read More
  • Hussain Miyan’s last journey

    Khalid, 09 September 2019

    Very well written Buno. This is not fiction there are hundreds n thousands of Hussain Miyan now in our country.

    Read More