Thursday, July 1, 2010
(New Series No. 176, Feb. 2003)
Faridabad and New Okhla Industrial Development Authority (NOIDA) are planned industrial cities surrounding New Delhi, the capital of India. Factories are in the network of the plan. The living quarters of supervisors, managers, and government officers are also in the plan. But where will the workers who are being squeezed in the factories live? The plans are silent about this. In the plans for Faridabad and NOIDA, no space has been set aside for the living quarters of workers. Good people will call this the naievete of the planners, and clever people will call it their stupidity...But, neither the naieve nor the stupid can sit for long on pyramids made out of the heads and shoulders of others.
Behind the characterization of people's very being as illegal lies an entire political economy. The basic pillars of this political economy are to foster an army of middle-men to increase the grip of control and lower the standard of life for the purposes of greater exploitation.
*Lowering the expense of the worker's housing is a means of lowering the cost of workers altogether. This lust for cheap labor is what is hidden behind allowing the construction of "illegal" shantytowns. In the name of obligation and protection, various levels of middlemen and their henchmen extort money from residents. The system of oppression and exploitation gets in these goods their "policy officers" and "lawyers" almost free of cost. When the bosses feel a need for these lands, the residents can easily be characterized as culprits for living on illegal lands, and it is then not very difficult to get these lands vacated.
*Illegal migration is an open business. From Mexico to America, Turkey to Germany, Korea to Japan, India to the Gulf area, Bangladesh to India...Overall, the number of those living illegally in the world today is in the tens of millions. The label of illegality is used to increase the helplessness of the person. This is a fantastic prescription to increase exploitaton and decrease the opportunities for resistance. Illegal migration also increases the exploitation of the "citizen" worker, and when the need arises for the bosses to turn victims against victims, it almost never misses its target. In this context, terrorism is certainly an handy tool in the government's hands to further crack down on the workers.
*If we look at hawkers and street vendors in different cities, only around 2% of them have licenses. Ninety-eight percent are knowingly forced into illegality, so that the policeman on the beat, the goon in the area, the political machine can extort money and harvest votes.
*Declaring this and that as illegal and creating an atmosphere of fear by the strict implementation of laws is not a leisure activity for the bosses. By doing this, the boss of the bosses, the government of America has imprisoned 2 million citizens, and has put 800,000 people waiting for trials into jails. Prisons are being turned into factories and offices where 2.5 million are put to work for wages that have been cut to one tenth of the minimum wage fixed by the American government. To cover up the Himalayan-sized exploitation and oppression, you have space programs, mega-events, accidents...
In Faridabad, the acceleration of the government-sponsored demolition activity has raised extensive questions in the shantytowns: How do we oppose this? How do we fight? What are the paths to save ourselves from sinking further into these swamps or getting our heads bashed in? In our view, recognizing and discarding the mystification being bandied about by middlement is the point of departure. Now is the time to critique this political economy with body-mind-passion (mann). We have to go beyond shedding tears and breast-beating...