Mazdur : Suspension of Labour Laws

Rakesh Dwivedi, Senior Advocate
12 May 2020 10:41 AM GMT
Mazdur : Suspension of Labour Laws
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Mai mazdur hun. Mere pas mere shram ke alava kuch nhi hai (I am a labourer. Apart from my labour, I don't have anything else with me).

I was born to labour. Labour in fields ; labour in factories ; labour in shops, restaurants, homes, schools, construction works, railways, metro, etc; labour to clean drains, build roads, flyovers, and so many services.

Indian economy cannot function without my labour. The country knows this. I am called Vishwakarma. Some say I am Seshnag and the world hinges on my hood.

But what are my rights and what is my existence?

I stand in a separate social queue and many amongst us are untouchables. My queue is noticed rarely. Perhaps only when I am required to sacrifice my labour for the common good. Though I am deprived and subjected to coercion of all kinds, including lynching, I have little option to selling my labour for subsistence.

Even when disease like corona is brought by travelers from abroad, they are the ones whom state prefers to protect and reach them safely home, but though I have lost my job for no fault of mine and I am penniless I cannot go home to my loved ones. I am asked to stay back in shelters on assurance of food. I am told I can spread this deadly disease by going home. But I didn't bring it to my country. Again no fault, Yet I stayed back much against my wish. Though I had to stand in long queues for hours to get half of the promised food and sometimes I didn't get at all yet I stayed on. Many like me lost patience and marched back on foot, on cycles and on trucks. Some died on way and some faced lathis of police and were sent back to shelters. It is not corona spread by us that worried the sarkar initially for there were few cases and we could have gone back home by trains and paid for the tickets. None of us had corona and there could be no spread .

The truth is that I or my labour is needed to kick start the economy after lifting up of lockdown and the rich and the rest are worried that if I go back the economy cannot start. So it is my energy that is required. I will be asked to stay and sacrifice for the country. As always I will shed my sweat and blood for my country. I will take care of production, and the GDP. I am warrior. I am a patriot. I am an important stakeholder in the economy and society, and my labour input is sanjeevni equal in value to the capital investment. But there will be no call to people to shower petals of rose on me or to clap for me. May not.

( Art by : Jyotsna Dwivedi)

All I want is some respect ; some dignity ; some fraternity ; some Justice and a little bit of equality and equity which the Constitution of India guarantees to " We the People" by its Preamble and Art 14, 19 and 21. I want this but I know that I will not get it. I am told you have to sacrifice more and forego the protective and beneficial labour laws as economy faces depression, it has to be resurrected and foreign investors have to be attracted with a "red" carpet to India from China. Ordinance for suspending large number of labour laws have been tailored. Labour reforms is the cry of Capital. So I must bear some more economic lynching. My blood will make the carpet " red" and that is what suspension of labor laws means. I should be ready for more exploitation. And if I will protest I may be branded anti national and either lathi charged or incarcerated. Capitalists want peaceful environment to profit for capital seeks maximization of returns. State thinks I am meek, an embodiment of suffering and I can bear this pain, but the rich cannot afford to sacrifice as they are not used to bearing loss and pain . They will not be able to bear hardship, deprivation of even a little of their happiness. There will be no restrictions on their earnings, profits and returns. Nay these have to be secured else, as they say, investments will not come in and employments too can't be generated and protected. Rather packages will be tailored to prevent or minimize their pain. May be all this is true. But I don't understand this economics which requires the lowliest mazdur to sacrifice for the rich.

Some shayar said " Jis economics (khet) se mazdur (dahkan) ko mayassar na ho roti, us economics( खेत) ke panno ko jala do." However, public interest show must go on. I will bear some more deprivation. I must seek happiness and salvation in my suffering. May be that is the law of Karma. But the untouchables cannot even get moksh through karma _ Vedas are beyond them, they can't even listen to Vedas. And if I demand this right to Vedas I fear this demand itself may invite lynching. Oh humanity why I am another human who is always to be lynched, lynched and lynched.

Late Sri Surendra Narayan Dwivedi, Former Judge, Supreme Court of India, father of Rakesh Dwivedi, had written a poem years ago on the same topic.

मजदूर तुम्हारे छूते ही,

जिंदा हो उठती मरी मिले

चढता उन्माद जवानी का

हंसती खिलखिल कंकाल कलें

घन और हथौड़ा की चोटें

करतीं लोहा पानी पानी

टुकड़े टुकड़े करता कुदाल

ढाती पहाड़ की चट्टानी

तुमने ही चुन चुन शिलाखन्ड

ये भव्य भवन निर्माण किए

जो तुम्हें घ्रणा से देख रहे

तुमने ही इनको प्राण दिये

मोटर जहाज रेलें मिलें

मजदूर तुम्हारी ही माया

तुमने अपना सब स्वाहा कर

दुनिया में वैभव बिखराया

चल रहा जगत का कारबार

मजदूर तुम्हारे ही बल पर

तुम शेषनाग है सधा हुआ

संसार तुम्हारे मस्तक पर

करवट बदलो फट जायेगा

भू का पाषाण वक्ष स्थल

सागर मे सांसें लेगा मरु

बालू में लहराएगा जल

पड़ जाएगी जिस ओर धमक

मजदूर तुम्हारे पैरों की

धंस जायेगी पाताल धरा

हस्ती क्या पूंजीपतियों की

जो बांध सके निर्बन्ध जोश

जग के संगठित मजदूरों का

जो रोक सके मदमत वेग

नव इन्कलाब की लहरों का

[ कवि ः स्व श्री सुरेंद्र नारायण द्विवेदी Written during Quit India Movement in 1942. He was jailed for participating in the movement. Kept in Naini Central Jail, Allahabad]. 



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