where trouble was needed

December 24, 2013

The Diplomat and The Help

Filed under: Uncategorized — Aravinda @ 8:03 am

New York Times

India Ink - Notes on the World's Largest Democracy

December 19, 2013, 8:59 am 131 Comments

The Domestic Help’s Views in Debate over Diplomat’s Arrest



When the allegations first came out that the diplomat was not paying the wage stated on the official documents, her father and others protested that she could not afford to pay that much, or even minimum wage. People even trotted out the defense that "all the diplomats do it."

When this cut no ice, all we heard about was increasing the diplomat’s immunity, not about holding her accountable or restoring unpaid wages to the domestic worker, Sangeetha Richard. Furthermore the Government of India proposes to designate Indian domestic helps working abroad as government servants on contract in order to exempt them from US wage laws.

Regarding the employers’ claim that "they make up for lesser wages for their staff by providing a home, food and transportation." the question is, is this what they stated on the visa application form?

Sangeetha Richard and Safe Horizon are taking on a significant uphill struggle. The government of India, which never tried using its clout to change US Policies on issues affecting pollution, food security and other matters affecting hundreds of millions of Indians, has acted swiftly in this case. Going well beyond the issue of treatment in police custody, the Ministry of External Affairs has clearly taken sides with the diplomat and left Sangeetha Richard, also an Indian, to fend for herself.

Many domestic workers earn much less than Sangeetha Richard. I hope this case empowers more of them to speak up for their rights.


December 20, 2013

Fighting Inequality, Indian Style

Filed under: Uncategorized — Aravinda @ 9:40 am

New York Times

Inequality, Indian Style

Published: December 19, 2013


Indian TV-Gurus are peddling your message of "change must come from within" 24 / 7.

Are we giving up on the idea of democracy, that we can collectively make policies that work for society as a whole? At times, I plead guilty … but every day, I wake up and snap out of it. Of course, we must change ourselves – it is very hard, too. Hats off to Ravi Gulati, but if he finds that his peers aren’t interested in conversations on the subject of inequality, he is clearly hanging with the wrong crowd.

Not 5 km from Khan Market, near Jantar Mantar, 200 elderly people are sitting in dharna for pensions. Struggling to live with dignity in old age, they are demanding that the government fulfill its promise to provide social security benefits. Their dedication and faith in the democratic process reminds us that we must join our voices with theirs, we must be the change.



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