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February 20, 2023, at 11:19 am
Fight Inequality Campaign in South Asia: Tax the Rich!
Economic Inequality in South Asia Fast economic growth need not necessarily go hand in hand with growing inequality. Implementation of inequality-reducing policies has the potential to redistribute the returns from growth proportionately, allowing for the growth process to be pro-poor. However, since the 1970s, in response to the global stagflation, the institutions that kept inequality at check – minimum wage, union, taxes, and regulation – have been blamed for the sluggish growth and, thus, discredited to celebrate the unabashed accumulation of private wealth by entrepreneurs. Subsequently, since the 1980s, a series of deregulation and liberalization programs have been implemented, which have taken different forms in different countries. Such policies have exacerbated income and wealth inequalities in the world. Global inequality has increased to the same level as they were at the peak of Western imperialism in the early 20th century. The richest 10% of the global population currently takes 52% of global income, whereas the poorest half of the population earns 8.5% of it.[1] Gender income inequality remains high – women make up only 35% of global labour incomes while men make up the remaining 65%.[2] Moreover, global wealth inequality has become more pronounced than income inequality. The poorest half of the global population barely owns any wealth at all, possessing just 2% of the total. In contrast, the richest 10% of the global population owns 76% of all wealth.[3]The South Asian region is going through multiple crises, including debt crisis and stagflation, further exacerbated by human-created climate disasters and the supply chain crisis arising from the geopolitical tension from the West. While the pandemic and other overlapping crises have pushed millions into poverty, there has been an enormous concentration of wealth and income in a few hands and more so at the time of the recent COVID-19 pandemic. South Asia is the most unequal sub-region in all of Asia. Every country in South Asia has a level of disposable income inequality high enough for it to be reduced per capita GDP growth by between 1 and 4%.[4] Income inequality produced by the market is the highest in India.[5] While the top 10% and top 1% in India hold respectively 57% and 22% of total national income, the share of the bottom 50% has gone down to 13%.[6] Likewise, the top 10% and 1% in India respectively own 65% and 33% of the total wealth while the bottom 50% own only 6% of the same.[7] Meanwhile, after direct taxes and transfers by governments, the most unequal country in Asia is Sri Lanka, which is currently reeling under severe debt crisis.[8]Inequality is a choice!History has, however, shown that inequality need not be an inevitable outcome of economic growth. It is, in fact, a matter of policy choice. Income inequality in India, for instance, was very high under British colonial rule (1858-1947) with the top 10% earning around 50% of income.[9] Later, the socialist-inspired five-year plans, following the independence, contributed to reducing this share to 35-40%.[10] Since the 1980s, income and wealth inequalities have been on the rise nearly everywhere following a series of deregulation and liberalization programs. The rise in inequality has, however, not been uniform with certain countries (the US, Russia, and India) experiencing a spectacular rise in inequality while others (European countries and China) experiencing relatively smaller rises.[11] The Commitment to Reducing Inequality (CRI) Report 2022 finds that OECD Asian countries outperform other Asian countries in reducing inequality followed by North and Central Asia, with South Asia lagging behind.[12] Asia’s bottom 10, as per the CRI index, includes five South Asian countries.[13] The difference in the extent of inequality over different time periods across different regions shows that inequality is not inevitable, but a political choice. The key inequality-reducing government policies include universal free education, health services, and social protection; equitable taxation; and enhanced labour rights, especially for women.[14] Out of these policy options, a taxation is an important tool that could be used to gather resources for public spending and at the same time correct the economic system that breeds inequality. The current taxation system in the South Asian region is, regrettably, regressive and corrupt in nature. The rules of taxation are rigged in favour of the few and are geared towards consumption and wage taxes, disproportionately impacting poorer households with a higher tax burden. For example, consumption taxes account for about 60% of the total tax revenue in Bangladesh.[15] The rates for consumption taxes are high in the region, for example, 15% in India and Pakistan.[16] Meanwhile, big corporations continue to receive multiple tax breaks while the poor are abused by higher indirect taxes.The rapidly widening inequality, the disproportionate profiting by a few out of the crises (as observed during the COVID-19 pandemic), the highly regressive tax system, and the huge budget deficit following multiple crises in the region call for the introduction and implementation of highly progressive taxation legislation that would generate resources to invest in public infrastructure, including health, education, and social protection, which in turn would be crucial in reducing inequality. While the revenue that could be potentially raised from consumption and income taxes has declined following the economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of countries have not gone for the alternative, such as increasing taxes on the rich, to fund a more just post-COVID recovery.[17]Tax wealth now!Taxing wealth is an important redistributive policy through which the tax base can be broadened to raise revenues for financing inequality-reducing public services. For instance, according to the South Asia Wealth Tax Report 2022, a progressive net wealth tax in India (taxing net worth USD 5 million to USD 50 million at 3%; USD 50 million to USD 1 billion million at 5%; greater than USD 1 billion at 10%) could raise USD 84.30 billion by taxing 66,860 individuals with a wealth of over USD 5 million.[18] This amount is enough to double the education spending or more than triple the healthcare spending in India. Similar progressive net wealth taxation could raise USD 1.82 billion in Bangladesh and USD 1.34 billion in Pakistan, enough to increase healthcare spending by two-thirds and 50% respectively.[19] Amidst the inequality-reducing potential of wealth tax policy, civil society can play a crucial role in pressing governments to introduce wealth tax policy, especially at a time when the revenue sources have shrunk due to the economic slowdown caused by the pandemic. Civil society organisations (CSOs) can educate the general public on the progressive nature of wealth tax and its revenue potential to generate broader support. Even in the cases when some forms of wealth taxation policies are in place, CSOs can pressurise the government to publish data on the revenue raised through wealth taxes and launch public information campaigns on wealth taxes, including how they should be implemented, how they should target the wealthy, and what revenues would be used for.  [1] World Inequality Report (2022) World Inequality Report 2022[2] Ibid.[3] Ibid.[4] Development Finance International and Oxfam International (2022) Asia’s Extreme Inequality Crisis: Building back stronger from COVID-19[5] Ibid.[6] World Inequality Report (2022) World Inequality Report 2022[7] Ibid. [8] Development Finance International and Oxfam International (2022) Asia’s Extreme Inequality Crisis: Building back stronger from COVID-19[9] World Inequality Report (2022) World Inequality Report 2022[10] Ibid.[11] Ibid.[12] Development Finance International and Oxfam International (2022) Asia’s Extreme Inequality Crisis: Building back stronger from COVID-19[13] Ibid.[14] Ibid.[15] Mahmood, M. (November 7, 2020) Rising income inequality in Bangladesh: the case for a wealth tax[16] Development Finance International and Oxfam International (2022) The Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index 2022[17] Ibid.[18] South Asia Alliance for Poverty Eradication (SAAPE) 2022 Tax wealth now: How taxing net wealth, inheritances and windfall profits can help South Asia overcome multiple crises[19] Ibid.
July 1, 2022, at 6:27 am
LDC Watch International Secretariat
Digital Advocacy & Communication OfficerJob posted on 30 Jun, 2022 Apply before 15 Jul, 2022LDC Watch International Secretariat Detailed Job description / requirements:Position: Digital Advocacy & Communication Officer - One LDC Watch/SAAPE is looking for a full time Digital Advocacy and Communication Officer with expertise in online and social media communication, public relation and writing skills. He/She will work closely with the Secretariat team of LDC Watch/SAAPE and will be responsible to develop overall communication strategy with a visible social media presence. This would include a strategic plan for effective impact, visibility and dissemination of all aspects of LDC Watch and SAAPEs' work.Essential tasks & responsibilitiesThe responsibilities of the DA & CO will include:Supporting campaign member organisations to organise, caption, tag, and upload infographics/photographs/contents to social media.Collaborating with other national and regional campaign members to develop social media plans ahead of key conferences, events, and opportunitiesManage organisational social networking accounts, profiles and engaging with diverse audiences across key social media sites.Tracking and assessing social media metrics, insights, and best practices to help organisations to improve and engagement with key audiences.Drafting and publishing posts, creating pages, content creation and reviewing site contents to ensure it is up-to-date and accurate on social media pages.Doing research and maintaining lists of relevant influencers and high-impact hashtagsProduce video bites, collection of human stories on the issues of fair value chain, fiscal justice and vaccine equity.Create and manage audio-visual documentation of organisationa''swork and impact.Qualification and experience:Bachelor degree or equivalent in communication, journalism, international relations or related area.Knowledgeable in social media tools and techniques (2 years of work experience in these areas)Strong communication skills in related fields and ability to write creatively.Demonstrated interest in social issues such as women's rights, right to food and food sovereignty, labour rights, social justice, inequality, human rights etc.Contract Duration: 12 months with possibility of extensionRemuneration:Digital Advocacy & Communication Officer is a full-time position in the organisation. Salary is negotiable.To apply:We treat all applications for employment fairly regardless of gender, race, religion, ethnicity, nationality, caste, tribe, belief, age, marital status, pregnancy, caring responsibilities, sexual orientation, or disability. Interested candidates who meet the above requirements are requested to apply by sending your CV along with cover letter and examples of work in pdf document, no later than 15 July 2022 at encourage potential applicants to visit and for more details on our work.Source:
February 17, 2022, at 3:08 pm
Women Continue Struggle To Rebuild Life & Livelihood
One year ago during the month of July/August, the floodwaters that ravaged southern parts of Pakistan have long receded. Though gone are the makeshift tent camps on roadsides but revival of normal life and livelihood still remain a challenge. Thousands continue a daily struggle to support their families and re‐establish livelihoods. As a new monsoon season is on full swing, last year’s trauma and economic pain still linger. While last year’s victims struggle to recover, others now worry that changing world weather patterns will cause renewed flooding.The devastation caused by the 2010 floods was worst in Pakistan’s history; almost 2,000 deaths, nearly 20 million displaced or affected and one‐fifth of the country went under water. The deluge inflicted unprecedented catastrophic damage on a country already reeling from the effects of US‐led war on terrorism. A year later, the picture is dismal.Although many flood refugees have returned homes but little is known to the world about their miserable conditions and stories of struggle, to combat the horrific effects on lives and livelihoods. Particularly the women who are the worst‐hit still facing multiple challenges after one year. Their work burden is multiplied. While husbands and male members in poor families, being daily wagers, are struggling to find sources of livelihood, women remain busy in rebuilding their damaged shelters and dwellings. In small villages and hamlets, one can find these women doing brick work and plastering their mud and half cemented houses. The brave ones who have done the reconstruction work are out in the fields to assist their tilling husbands. Rest or respite seems rare thing to them.Their lost possessions have been replaced at higher costs or not at all. Many marriageable girls who lost their dowry and valuables are making fresh start to make it again to get marry. To address the issue a new culture of collective marriages is gaining ground, which was earlier unknown to these areas. Unfortunately, the phenomenon is giving rise to another social trend of early girl marriages. Though the custom of girls’ early marriages is already present in Pakistan however, the post flood conditions have given new impetus to this trend. It must be stopped and the only way to tackle it is to initiate women focused anti‐poverty programs in the area. For instance, any scheme to allocate state land and distribution of livestock among poor women in area will be helpful in addressing the issue.
February 17, 2022, at 3:05 pm
Do Human Rights Exist?
Do human rights exist in Sri Lanka? The UNDP organized a human rights day program at the Colombo University and Ms Sunila Abesekara, Executive Director of INFORM and Human Rights Defender, was invited as the keynote speaker. But the vice-chancellor of Colombo University decided not to permit Sunila to speak at the Colombo University. Thus the UNDP had to cancel their program at the University and relocate it. The situation is so bad in Sri Lanka even the UN cannot talk about human rights. In the present context the Supreme Court judge advice the president of the student union not to get involved in student activity, which means a violation of fundamental right of engaging in student activity during university period. The Supreme Court of Sri Lanka is a part of the human rights violation mechanism. Are all the communities in Sri Lanka enjoying their human rights equally? If we have the environment and protection to talk about Human Right violations then Human Rights exists. When the violation of human rights happen a picket, rally or a petition or case was filed at the court. But in the present context none of these methods are effective. Thus the human rights defenders have to take a different role now. They should not act as buffer zones. They should allow the people to directly face the situation of violation of their human rights and then to guide the people to protect their rights once it has been violated by the state. The meeting was followed by a Protest at Lipton Circus at 12.30 pm. Human Right activists, representatives from social and political organizations, civil society, religious leaders, politicians and general public participated.
February 17, 2022, at 3:04 pm
Pakistan After Osama
Pakistan after Osama is not the same. Relationship of different political trends and countries are changing. After the initial shock, the religious fundamentalist terrorist groups are back in business. There have been several suicidal attacks after 10th of May, just 8 day after the assassination of Osama. On 12th May 2011, twin bomb attacks on a paramilitary force academy in North-West Pakistan have killed 80 people. At least 120 people were wounded in the blasts at the training centre for the Frontier Constabulary in Shabqadar, Charsadda district. After early suspicions that one of the bombs was planted, police said both blasts were suicide attacks. The Pakistani Taliban said they carried out the attack to avenge the death of Osama Bin Laden.There have been similar suicidal attacks in other areas of Pakistan since then killing dozens. The continuations of terrorist attacks illustrate that the network is still intact in the absence of Osama. The “great victory” by Americans has brought more miseries for the ordinary masses of Pakistan.The presence of Osama in Pakistan and subsequent successful attack by Americans Navy Seals violating all internationally accepted values of sovereignty has changed the political arena of Pakistan at least. Although, the national parliament was able to bring one joint resolution to condemn the 2May incident and opposing drone attacks, none of the content of the resolution was even mentioned when there was an eye to eye meeting with Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relation Committee. This has further polarized the relationship of Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). Mian Nawaz Sharif head of PMLN is trying to capture the anti imperialist mood among the masses that has strengthened more as result of the killing of Osama.After Osama Bin Laden’s assassination, the mass reaction in Pakistan is very mixed. The reaction against the attack on the compound in Abbot Abad is growing wider and it will spread to other areas.Many religious fundamentalists fled Afghanistan and took refuge in Baluchistan and Khaiber Pakhtoonkhawa. The two provinces were ruled by MMA, a religious alliance, from 2002 to 2008. This fundamentalist rule occurred while General Musharraf was playing a binary game with American imperialism. On one hand, he joined the “war on terror” coalition while on the other he depended on the fundamentalist’s growth to receive more for military and economic support from the American imperialism on the name of fighting the fundamentalists. During this period, Osama Bin Laden must have crossed into Pakistan.The May 2011, attack took everybody by surprise; people were bewildered and speechless. No one expected such a brazen act so soon after the release of David Ramond, the CIA operative who killed two Pakistanis in broad day light earlier this year in Lahore. In contrast to the mild reaction to Osama’s assassination, the mass reaction to David Ramond’s murders was so strong it put the government in a defensive position. With this attack it seems that American imperialism has advanced its conquest of Pakistan.Religious political parties like Jamaat Islami and Jamiat Ulemai Islam slam Americans for their “violation of Pakistan sovereignty.” Hard liner Jamat Dawa of Hafiz Saeed is the most active religious fundamentalist consoling Asama Bin Laden and offering Nama Jenaza, (the prayer upon death of a Muslim) in some areas. It will not be long before these parties organize the sympathy toward Osama and take the streets against the attack.Bourgeoisie parties like the Pakistan People’s Party and Pakistan Muslim League Q support the American action, seeing it as a great victory against the rise of religious fundamentalism. After three weeks of assassination, the parliament considers it as an attack on the sovereignty of Pakistan. The government has not yet come up with a coherent explanation. Instead, various officials make contradictory statements. Pakistan and U.S. Governmental Alliance Over the last year the Pakistan and U.S. government have cemented their relationship. This can be seen through more exchange visits among intelligent officials and in the number of visas provided to CIA agents. The government also gave Washington a free hand for launching drone attacks, abandoning the pretense of condemnation that was practiced during the initial phase of the attacks. It seems that Washington has known Osama Bin Laden was in Pakistan. All along, the U.S. government has provided political backing to a very fragile PPP government. Without hesitation, the government acted on the advice of American imperialism, the IMF and the World Bank. The U.S. government could not have a better partner than this government, which is led by the most corrupt and anti-people elements. Further, Washington seems to have blessed bringing the Muslim League Q — which shared power with General Musharraf – into the government. On the very day, Osama was killed, 14 ministers from the PMLQ took their oath and joined what one newly inducted federal minister called a “drowning boat.” The open violation of Pakistan sovereignty by sending the U.S. Navy SEALS to take out Osama Bin Laden will not worsen the relationship between the two ruling classes. Notice that Obama and his aides have not uttered a single word against the Pakistani government. On the contrary, they have praised the mutual sharing of intelligence. With John Kerry arrival, it was agreed that there will be joint military attack if any other hard target is found in Pakistan.A Joint effortThe attack on the Osama group has been a joint effort of Pakistan and American intelligence agencies. General Kiani, who has headed the army since Musharraf was president, is the former head of ISI. He has a long history of working closely with American imperialism. Back in 2007, he was the one who began negotiations with Benazir Bhutto for sharing power with Musharraf. As Benazir put pressure on General Musharraf to resign his position with the military, General Kiani took over. Under his watch, the Pakistani military establishment began to break their traditional links with the religious fanatics, launching military operations against them. The fanatics fought back, targeting military headquarters and killing top military officers.3 Polarization in Army ranksAs a result, there is a polarization in the military between the officers and the ranks. Top military officers have formed close relationships with their American counterparts. They are in control of vast assets and maintain a more liberal way of life. But the lower ranks are still religious, sympathetic to fundamentalism and the religious parties and still hold to anti-Indian and anti-Western feelings. Because of this polarization, Washington hesitates trusting the ability of the army and intelligence agencies to carry out vigorous prosecution of its war on terrorism.Religious terrorism will not endDespite the big blow of Bin Laden’s death, Al-Qaida and other religious extremist terrorist groups will grow. In his excellent pamphlet, “Why Marxists oppose individual terrorism,” Leon Trotsky remarked, “The most important psychological source of terrorism is always the feeling of revenge in search of an outlet.” The feeling of revenge does not end by with Osama’s death. Both his murder and the throwing of Osama’s body into the Arabian Sea will not put an end to terrorism. In fact, religious terrorism will grow as a result of American imperialism’s actions. A certain portion of Muslim youth who are looking for ways to oppose American imperialism may be attracted to terrorism. New terrorist groups will form. This does not mean that the religious fanatics can capture power in Pakistan. The Pakistan military is a brutal force and they have demonstrated several times how much violence they will use once their power is threatened. The Pakistan army will work hand in glove with Americans to ensure that the fanatics do not take over Islamabad nor get their hands on the country’s nuclear technology.The threat of individual terrorism by fanatics with a world view is not confined to one country. They are not so much like IRA who fought in the name of national liberation but more like the Red Brigade, who fought an ideological war but was successfully crushed because it had a very narrow social base.Al-Qaida and others religious fanatics are exploiting the religious feelings of millions of Muslims.Although these fanatics represent several different trends and sects within Islam, nonetheless they have been able to lay down a mass social base in several countries.Al-Qaida is no doubt one of the most successful terrorist organizations the world has ever seen. They have survived over two decades and successfully planned and struck targets several times. They have a brigade of suicidal missionaries who are ready to go heaven by killing themselves and others. Despite their main leader’s murder, there are no sign of their demise. However acts of individual terrorism have their own limits.State terrorism cannot be separated from individual terrorism. Both have the same nature and direction; both give raise the same consequences. However, the act of state terrorism can have lasting positions and takes refuge on several issues.The Al-Qaida most successful act of terrorism on 9/11 has not benefited Muslims and the lives of the millions of Muslims one of absolute misery and sadness. It has satisfied the soul of the few fanatics like Osama but damaged the souls of the millions. Imperialism responded to the attack with barbaric fury.4 Would the killing end religious fundamentalism?Examine the following 2009 quote from U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, about Washington’s past support to the Mujahidin in Afghanistan:“Let’s deal with the ISI [Pakistani Intelligence Agency] and the Pakistan military and let’s go recruit these mujahedeen…. it wasn’t a bad investment to end the Soviet Union but let’s be careful with what we sow… Because we will harvest,” Hillary Clinton, 23 April 2009Over the last 10 years, both Washington and the fanatics are harvesting what they have sowed. One act of revenge leads to another.Religious fundamentalism cannot be defeated by force. The war and occupational policies of American imperialism present examples of failure, not success. The lesson is clear: “You cannot kill ideas.” Instead there must be a political fight to expose the real meaning of religious fundamentalism to the lives of ordinary people.The rise of political Islam is linked to the growing weakness of left parties in the Muslim world. On the one hand, during the 1990s, after the fall of Soviet Union, Socialism seemed to have failed. On the other hand, populist, anti-imperialist, mass-based parties such Bhutto’s Popular Party also loss credibility. Religion seemed to be the only available anti-imperialist platform.In reality religious extremists such as the Taliban and Al-Qaida in no way represented an alternative against imperialism. They themselves exploit, oppress, and kill those who do not share their beliefs. They believe in the physical elimination of political opponents. They are not a progressive force fighting against imperialist hegemony but an extremely right-wing reaction. They want to forcibly turn the clock of the history backward. Religious fanatics are the new fascists.Religious fanatics and the imperialist powers provide each other with justification for escalating violence. This is a never-ending cycle.The growth of religious fundamentalism is also a response to the complete failure of the civilian and military governments in Pakistan to solve any of the basic problems of the working class and peasants. Successive regimes have been unable to end the grip of feudalism, the repressive and exploitive nature of Pakistani capitalists and their humiliating treatment of workers, the repression of the country’s smaller nationalities and exploitation of their natural resources.The failure of the civilian governmentThe Pakistani ruling class has failed miserably to bring about any democratic norms. As a result, when civilian regimes have been overthrown by military dictatorships, the vast majority of the masses did not offer resistance. Today the policies of the civilian government are dominated by American imperialism and institutions such as the IMF and World Bank that dictate misery for the people of Pakistan. War and economy misery along with daily suicidal attacks have left the population in a fearful state. The general psyche has become one of an uncertain future. Hope vanishes. Clearly the Pakistani government must 5 change its political and economic priorities. It must end corruption and cut its ties that bind it to American imperialism.The confusion among the Left was at its height after 9/11. There were those advocating cooperation with NATO forces against the religious fanatics, saying there was no need to build an alternative. “Religious fanatics are fascists and NATO is powerful enough to eliminate them” was the argument put forward. “NATO is doing our job. A military solution is the only alternative; we must keep quiet, close our eyes and cooperate with the Americans. There is no need to build the antiwar movement involving the masses” was the line of argumentation.On the other side, to reinforce the central paradigms of the dominant actors of the conflict, the problem was presented as “Us vs. Them,” “The Battle of Good Against Evil,” “Crusades against Islamic terrorism,” “Civilization versus Chaos.” The state, the media and liberals, hand in hand with some progressives, were able to dominate the discussion.What should we do?The killing of Osama by the Americans opens a new era of conflict. The groups and individuals linked to Al-Qaida as well as other terrorist religious fundamentalists will use the incident to mobilize people in support of their reactionary agenda.We have to oppose U.S. imperialism, the fundamentalists and the complicity of the Pakistani government with both of these forces. In this debate, we have come forward with our own position on imperialism, the capitalist state and religious fundamentalism. We have to expose their propaganda and dead-end solutions.We call for a comprehensive and wide-ranging political and economic strategy to fight the fanatics. The Pakistani state must end its all forms of support to religious madrassas. At least 10 percent of the national budget should be spent on education; education must be free University level for all Pakistanis. The state must delink itself from religious practices and provide an institutional alternative to madrassas.We call for an end to subservience to the economic policies of the IMF and World Bank. The government must serve the interests of workers and peasants.We call for an end the ties to U.S. imperialism and the war machine. We call an end of occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq by the imperialist forces.The rise of religious fundamentalism is a direct result of governmental policies of a ruling elite and its dependence on American and other imperialist forces. A fight against imperialism and colonization and neo-colonization must have the main priority of all our propaganda, with no concession to the fanatics. An alternative has now been presented by the great Arab Spring. The era of suicidal attacks, bomb blasts drone attacks and other violent means are far less effective than the mass upsurge of the great Arab6 people against dictators, and dictatorial regimes. The Arab way of fighting back will ultimately start brings a confidence among the masses to go all the way from changing regimes to a Socialist alternative.
February 17, 2022, at 3:03 pm
Growth Of Informal And Precarious Work In Journalism: The Indian Scenario
– Babu P. Remesh, Professor and DEAN, School of Development Studies, Ambedkar University Delhi (AUD), India During the first few decades since India’s Independence (i.e from 1950s till 1980s), journalists were one of the most protected lot of employees in India. Way back in 1955, a protective legislation, Working Journalists and Other Newspaper Employees (Conditions of Service) and Miscellaneous Provisions Act (WJA), was passed, which included many welfare oriented clauses. Protection from retrenchment, stipulation of terms of work and assured compensation during retrenchment and so on were some of the major provisions in this act. The act also stipulated that the journalists needs to be paid a sum of gratuity, when they leave their organisation – after serving for a stipulated period. It is important to note that this was much before the enactment of Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972. Among the many benefits of Working Journalists Act, the most important one is the setting up of Wage Boards, which acted as the statutory wage setting and revising mechanism for journalists. The first wage board was set up in 1956 and since then 5 more wage boards were constituted – the last one being the 6th Wage Board chaired by Justice G.R. Majithia, which submitted its report in 2010.After the successful implementation of awards of first wage boards, journalism has become one of the highly protected, fairly paid occupations in the service sector – with impressive terms and conditions, which inter alia provided a very conducive environment to journalists for carrying out their work without any fear and prejudice. Job security was the most important feature of journalism in those days.  All the journalists were permanent employees and were popularly known as `wage board employees’, as their terms and conditions of work were as per WJA and wage boards. An overall patronage provided by governments of those times, coupled with a non-interfering approach of the owners of the news-papers in the editorial matters and press freedom added to the independence and empowerment of journalists. Trade unions of journalists also flourished during this conducive environment and the journalists had a visible upper hand in employer-employee relations.  The above explained good times of formal and protected employment in Journalism did not, however, last for long time.  During the past few decades, in many ways, informal and precarious work flourished in this profession. Many decisive factors cumulatively resulted in a situation of faster informalisation of work in journalism. Prominent among these factors are: growth of contractual work, advent of new media forms, changes in technology of news production, deepening income-inequality, decline of trade unionism and decline of legal protection/wage boards.From 1980s onwards, there has been continuous growth of contractual jobs in Journalism. By now, considerable proportions of workforce in media firms (print and other forms of media) are working with fixed-term short duration jobs and task-based assignments.  In many of the prominent print media houses, the proportions of temporary/short-duration staff are between 40-50 per cent.  This growth of temporary employees is indicative of the increasing precarity in journalism.  The contract workers are not covered by the labour welfare and protection clauses, stipulated in WJA, 1955. Nor they are beneficiaries of the wage board awards. Thus, the increase in proportion of contract-based journalists led to an emergence of dualistic workforce in the profession, where the majority are without legally backed job security and reasonable terms and conditions at work. The intensity of precarity is more in the case of stringers, who are the most vulnerable category of workers. Stringers often offer their work on call and as per requirement of the media houses. They do not normally figure in the pay rolls of the firms for which they are working. These workers essentially do freelancing and commissioned work, on a very short term basis for a payment. As they are not formally employed with assured terms and conditions, they often face deep insecurities such as inadequate wages and irregular, delayed payments (and at times even non-payment for their work). This forces many of them to engage in supplementary income earning activities (including gathering of advertisements for the news papers – to get a small proportion of the advertisement-income as commission for their service). There are also cases where stringers use their media-connections to raise extra money by resorting extortion and blackmailing, which is also an indirect outcome of the absence of job security and assured payment in the media sector.In the past few decades, the massive advent of new media forms and the advent of new technologies together altered the landscape of journalism considerably, making the journalists more vulnerable in the labour market. During the past, print media (news papers) was the sole sector of journalism. But, with the entry of television channels and other media forms (e.g. websites, e-newspapers and on-line journalism), the worlds of journalists have undergone drastic transformations.  The resultant challenges include: obsolescence of traditional journalism skills (and redundancy of journalists), the need for acquiring new skills and competencies and the need for multi-skilling and multi-tasking. The conventional methods of producing news have got discarded with the march of new technologies, and in order to retain their jobs the media workers often have to work for multiple media forms simultaneously. In such situations, one can see the same journalist preparing reports and feeding inputs for multiple media forms (e.g. newspaper, TV channel and online news paper) – all as part of his/her assigned work.  Such multi-tasking along with the continuous run for breaking news (to improve the TRP of the channel or readership of the newspapers) resulted in a situation where the journalists are in a continuous rat race – to establish their utility to the employers and to retain their jobs for some more time.In this age of technological revolution in news production, the quantum of paid work for journalists are shrinking given the fact that technology provides inexpensive and even zero-cost substitutions for many work process of traditional journalism. Also, in this new era of social media and mass-participation in news generation (using mobile phones, internet, whatsapp, instagram and so on), a considerable chunk of news are produced and circulated freely. So, for paid journalism there is an oversupply of journalists, which gets more intensified with the regular influx of many more trained journalists every year, from hundreds of journalism training institutions in the country. In recent times, downsizing of workforce has become a priority in media firms. Accordingly, closure of editions/news bureaus and massive retrenchment of journalists have become a frequent feature of the present-day Journalism. Widening income inequality within the occupation of journalism is another matter to worry about. Unlike earlier times, the gap between salaries of editors and media professionals at higher level and those of the reporters and journalists at lower rungs has increased considerably.  Due to this, there is a striking polarisation within the journalists, where the `elite’ personnel in the profession do not relate themselves to the ordinary journalists, who are struggling for attaining/retaining some basic minimum labour standards and fair salaries.The most decisive factors of growing informalisation and precarious work in journalism are the decline of trade unions and the weakening of labour protection in the sector. Over the years, the collective strength of journalists has declined considerably, due to multiple reasons including withdrawal of overall patronage and supportive environment provided by the state and hostile approach of the media firms towards trade unions. Alongside this, the efficacy and coverage of WJA, 1955 has also deteriorated considerably.  There has been a visible decline in the number of journalists covered under wage boards. Many of the erstwhile wage-board journalists moved to other media forms (e.g. Television and On-line Journalism), which are not covered by WJA, 1955. Alongside this, most of the new recruits are either engaged in fixed-term short duration appointments or are excluded from the wage-board benefits. Though the last wage board (Majithia Board) gave its award in 2010 and it was subsequently approved by the Government, the powerful media houses and their collectives in India strongly resisted its implementation. Subsequently, the matter was drawn into a protracted litigation process, which ended with a verdict the Supreme Court of India in 2014, favouring the journalists. Notwithstanding this, the implementation of Majithia Wage Board’s recommendations is not fully implemented in most of the print-media firms in India. Due to drastically declined strength of potential beneficiaries, there is a growing apprehension that there may not be any requirement of yet another wage board for journalists. Given the above scenario of growing job insecurities and vulnerabilities of journalists, it is very imperative to plan immediate corrective measures to address the decent-work deficits in this occupation.FacebookTwitterEmail