Gurgaon Workers' News #29 - August 2010

English-language edition of the class struggle newspaper produced and distributed in Gurgaon, in the Indian state of Haryana. Contains workers' accounts of their experiences, reports of collective action, and analysis of the intense development of the city.

Submitted by Django on August 10, 2010

Gurgaon in Haryana is presented as the shining India, a symbol of capitalist success promising a better life for everyone behind the gateway of development. At a first glance the office towers and shopping malls reflect this chimera and even the facades of the garment factories look like three star hotels. Behind the facade, behind the factory walls and in the side streets of the industrial areas thousands of workers keep the rat-race going, producing cars and scooters for the middle-classes which end up in the traffic jam on the new highway between Delhi and Gurgaon. Thousands of young proletarianised middle class people lose time, energy and academic aspirations on night-shifts in call centres, selling loan schemes to working-class people in the US or pre-paid electricity schemes to the poor in the UK. Next door, thousands of rural-migrant workers uprooted by the agrarian crisis stitch and sew for export, competing with their angry brothers and sisters in Bangladesh or Vietnam. And the rat-race will not stop; on the outskirts of Gurgaon, Asia’s biggest Special Economic Zone is in the making. The following newsletter documents some of the developments in and around this miserable boom region. If you want to know more about working and struggling in Gurgaon, if you want more info about or even contribute to this project, please do so via:



Short workers' reports from Gurgaon factories

The following short reports have been collected and re-distributed by Faridabad Mazdoor Samachar in April 2010.

Submitted by Django on August 10, 2010

Minimum Wage at the time in Haryana (April 2010): 4,214 Rs for unskilled workers, based on 8-hours shifts, over-time has to be paid double. We document to studies by local/global NGOs about the Asian garments industry. Their idea of a Asian wide-basic wage demand for textile workers seems naïve – given the actual happening riotous workers movements in China and Bangladesh, the rapid ups and downs of currencies in global crisis, the fierce battle over slumping garments markets: the nation state – the institution they address – is neither interested nor in control to facilitate such a well-meaning scheme. Nevertheless, there is some useful information and workers’ stories in some bits of the documents.

NGO Garments Document 1
NGO Garments Document 2

Instyle Worker
(378 / Udyog Vihar Phase 2)
The wages are always delayed. They paid the February wages on 25th of March. The 150 hours of overtime are paid at single rate. The drinking water in the factory is bad. The toilets are very dirty. The bosses swear.

Klesh Ribbon Worker
(403 / Udyog Vihar Phase 3)
The Factory runs on two 12-hours hifts, no weekly day off. The hepers’ wages are 2,700 Rs to 3,000 Rs. No ESI, no PF.

Richa and Company Worker
(239 / Udyog Vihar Phase 1)
The 30 women and 40 men doing the thread-cutting work are paid 3,500 Rs, no ESI, no PF, overtime is paid at single rate. Those skilled women workers who stitch pearls or glitter-stars on to the garments are paid the mnimum wage for unskilled work, neither ESI card, nor PF. Amongst others we fabricate garments for GAP. There is one shift in the production department, which starts at 9 am and finishes at midnight. Women workers are called to work at 7:30 am, they are sent home at 9pm or 10pm, if they refuse to stay that long, they are immediately sacked. On 27th of March some male workers said that they will refuse to work till midnight. The incharge and some guys gave those workers a beating and made them stay till midnight. The company pays only the first two hours overtime at double rate. If you are five minutes late for work, they close the door in your face, if you want to take a day of, they swear at you. If you take two or three days of, they keep your company card and say: “Pay us 500 Rs and then you will get your card back”.

Omega Export Worker
(863, Udyog Vihar Phase V)
We work from 9:30 am till 1 am at night, on a regular level. They give only 20 Rs for food, despite the fact that we don’t have time to cook our own food, working these long working-days. The overtime is paid at single rate, though they would have to pay double according to the law. Even the women workers have to work till 8 or 9 pm at night. The company-hired helpers get 3,500 Rs, which is way below the minimum wage, the helpers hired through contractors get 3,000 Rs. Around 150 workers work on piece-rate – they are supposed to work first, the company sauys that it will tell them about the rate per piece afterwards. Of the 700 workers employed in the factory around 100 long-term workers get ESI and PF.

Smarti Apparels Worker
(156, Udyog Vihar Phase I)
We produce leather jackets, every day from 9:30 am till 10 pm to midnight. Overtime is paid at single rate. At the moment there are only 150 workers, but after April the numbers will increase to 1,000. When you return from the village they won’t pay you the last ten to fifteen days you had worked before leaving. When wages were increased to 5,090 Rs, they gave only 5,000 Rs. You give them a 10 Rs, but they won’t give you the 100 Rs note. They always say “later”.

Choice Export Worker
(358, Udyog Vihar Phase II)
The female workers doing emboroidery are paid 3,000 Rs, they get neither ESI nor PF. The January and February 2010 wages were not paid by 20th of March 2010. As a result 10 women workers left the job, but they have trouble getting the outstanding wages.

Kalamkari Worker
(383, Udyog Vihar Phase III)
From our wages each month about 300 to 400 Rs get embezzled. Working-times are from 9 am till 8:45 pm, overtime is paid at one and a half. The skilled tailors get 163 Rs for an 8-hours day, but the company documents say 173 Rs. In the production department managers swear a lot. Money is cut for ESI and PF, but they don’t tell us the PF number, and they don’t fill in the PF form. There are major problems with the drinking water. The toilets are very dirty. We manufacture goods for the company Motherhood.

Security Guard
The company office is in GL Complex in Dundahera, the company is called Yuva Security Group. We earn 5,000 Rs for a 30 days working-month, based on a 12-hours working-day. I left the job after 15 days, because my health was down. When I asked for the money for the 15 days they said that they won’t pay me.

Kachan International Worker
(872, Udyog Vihar Phase V)
We have not been paid our wages for the period of September 2009 tol February 2010. On 12th of March 2010 we filed a complain at the Labour Department, they said that they would send an inspector by 29th of March 2010. The inspector did not turn up.

Gaurav International Worker
(225 Udyog Vihar Phase 1)
They make us work from 9 am till 11 pm or even midnight. On Saturdays we have to work the whole night, meaning that we work continously from saturday 9 am till Sunday 6 am. They don’t give money for food, even if they make you work 20 hours on stretch.Only the first two hours of overtime are paid at double rate.

Marvel Worker
(370, Udyog Vihar Phase II)
The helpers get 3,500 rs the skilled tailors get 4,100 to 4,200 Rs. We work from 9:30 am till 11 pm. May be 200 out of 400 workers get ESI and PF. The general manager swears a lot. We produce stuff for Chicos.

Lifestyle Worker
(175, Udyog Vihar Phase I)
About 80 workers work on two 12-hours shifts doing computer-controlled embroidery work. The helpers get 4,000 Rs for 30 working-days, the skilled workers get 5,000 Rs to 6,000 Rs. The wages are paid delayed every month. Only three or four workers get ESI and PF.

Gopal Clothing Worker
(274 Udyog Vihar Phase II)
The women workers are forced to work till 10:30 pm, the male workers till 2 am. In the computer-embroidery department workers are hired through contractors. They don’t get ESI and PF, their overtime is not paid – they work four hours over-time each day.

Orion Convenience Worker
(90, Udyog Vihar Phase I)
Workers manufacture leather belts and bags. The contractor has disappeared and the company does not fill in The PF form.

Eastern Medikit Worker
The casual workers in the factories in Udyog Vihar are paid 3,914 Rs, although the minimum wage is 4,214 Rs.


Fifteen Years of Proletarian Existence in Delhi and Gurgaon / 5 Minutes Chat with Worker on a Street in Udyog Vihar

Submitted by Django on August 10, 2010

In 1995 I worked at Mohan Industries assembling Stereo Decks, they paid 700 Rs that time. When I left the job in 2003 the wages had gone up to 2,100 Rs. I then went to Rajpura in Punjab, I worked in a sweets factory, earning 5,000 Rs. After a year I was sent to the company offices in the World Trade Centre near Connaught Place in Delhi. They trade with coconut products, milk, and jam. Wages were the same, but finally the company closed down in 2005. I then went to Gurgaon, to Udyog Vihar. Here I worked in 15 factories within a three year period: Isa Collection, Modelama, Nitin Clothing, Orient Clothing and so on… I ended up doing checker-work in the quality department. Officially they call it an 8-hours shift, but 12-hours are the norm and 15 hours are not unusual. There is a lot of misbehaviour in all places. I opened a fruit-and-veg-shop in Bijwasan in December 2009. Because they build a fly-over there the road was closed on 23rd of February 2010 – the shop was finished and done with. Now I am on the street myself. I am looking for work again in Udyog Vihar.


Short Report of a Pavement Shop-Keeper in the Industrial Area

Submitted by Django on August 10, 2010

In Udyog Vihar Phase I to IV there are about 1,000 pavement shop-keepers, selling tea, cigarettes, small items. There used to be one official canteen per Phase, the canteen officials would take around 500 Rs from each pavement shop-keeper in their area. This went on till January 2009. The licenses for these canteens ran out, no there is no canteen left in Udyog Vihar. After having worked on the pavements for years now guys of the Haryana State Industrial & Infrastructure Development Corporation (HSIIDC) have started to chase each individual shop-keeper away. We shopkeepers gathered and went to meet some local political leaders three times. Together with these leaders we organised a demonstration in front of the HSIIDC office in Udyog Vihar Phase 5, this was in December 2009. The leaders gave the HSIIDC officials a notification. The leaders then said: “Open your shops, you will get a permission”. But HSIIDC guys turned up again and threw away all our sales goods. After the demonstration the leaders did not show up again.


Struggles over Water, Struggles over Power

Gurgaon is an open drain of human energy, converting it into tiredness and commodities. It is a drain of water and power. Residents fight back against the city, fight over the energy flow. As it seems on the surface, urban and rural are in clinch over power-distribution. In Faridabad industrialists complain about the power-shortages, making it impossible for them to keep up with global competition, while farmers in the hinterland say that they cannot irrigate their land due to lack of electricity. We document some struggles over water and (social) power.

Submitted by Django on August 10, 2010


Gurgaon is built in a private rush, not caring much for infrastructure. Water gets who invests in private tubewells, who can effort the technological drill. Once the crisis comes to the fore the state calls for ‘collective efforts’ and ‘self-management’ and ‘building mass movements’. From the rulers point of view these ‘mass movements’ are supposed to look different from the riots and violence in in Delhi, Shahbad and Rohtak in July 2010.

Gurgaon is facing a shortage of 20 million gallons of water every day
“The present population of Gurgaon is 20 lakh. As per norms the city requires 360 million litres daily (MLD) or 80 million gallon (MG) of water supply. At present, the water works at village Basai has a capacity of delivering 60 MG of water. So there is a net shortage of 20 MG,” said the spokesperson of the residents organisation, Mission Gurgaon Development. There are many areas in the city where the distribution system has not yet been laid and these areas have to depend entirely on tubewells for water supply, the study said. “The entire cyber park of 144 acres has been drawing ground water for many years. Similarly, HUDA has not laid the distribution system beyond 55 sectors,” he added. Therefore a fare amount of population of Gurgaon city is still dependent upon the underground water. This heavy withdrawal of groundwater is resulting into lowering of water table by 5.0 metres per year.
(The Tribune, 1st of June 2010)

Water racket unearthed; 6 illegal borewells sealed
The district administration today sealed six borewells being illegally operated for selling water in Delhi and Gurgaon. The team found another illegal borewell operating at Ekta Service Station in Sector 5 of Gurgaon, which was also sealed. The water being illegally extracted from this borewell was reportedly being sold in nearby areas through water tankers.
(The Tribune, 29th of June 2010)

Don’t look to govt for water: Deepender
MP calls for collective efforts to check groundwater depletion. Congress MP from Rohtak Deepender Singh Hooda has exhorted the local residents to put in collective efforts to check the problem of water table depletion in Gurgaon. Without waiting for either the district administration or the government or any other organisation to take up the issue, every citizen should contribute for water conservation, then only our future generations will be able to get water, the MP stated while addressing a GIREM Gurgaon summit on infrastructure, business and energy connect organised at Epicentre in Sector 44 here late last evening. The top priority, as of now, should be to address the problem of water table depletion, he said, adding that in Gurgaon and nearby areas, the exploitation of underground water was 300 per cent more than the seepage rate. This means that against one litre of water that goes into the earth, we are extracting three litres from it. Gurgaon does not have any perennial source of water and presently depends on the Yamuna, in which water has been decreasing at the rate of 5 per cent per year for the past nearly 20 years, the MP pointed out. Hooda appealed to the gathering comprising builders, realtors and industrialists, to help build a mass movement on the issue so that the people realised the gravity of the problem and played a proactive role.
(The Tribune, 28th of May 2010)

Protest for water turns violent – 10 injured in arson, stonepelting in Kondli
New Delhi: More than 10 people, including policemen, were injured in the arson and stone-pelting that followed when police tried to disperse about 300 residents who had blocked roads in protest against negligible water supply in their colonies for the last seven days in the Kondli area of east Delhi this morning. Two buses and three private cars, passing the roads at the time when police tried to open the road blockade, were damaged by the protestors. According to police sources, several motorcycles of the police department were also damaged by the unruly protestors who hurled stones at the police. The situation could be controlled only after two hours of police action. The locals alleged that there had been no supply of water in the area for the past seven days and despite repeated complaints to the Delhi Jal Board (DJB), no action has been taken. “What other option did we have if not to get on the road? It is seven days and there is no water supply in our houses. Nobody wants to hear us because we stay in unauthorized colonies,” alleged Singh.
(The Tribune, 6th of July 2010)

Now, anger pours out on highway – Shahbad flood-hit block GT Road
Shahbad:Hundreds of vehicles were stranded on GT Road near the flood-affected town of Shahbad as angry residents blocked traffic in protest against the failure of the administration to restore electricity and water supply even after the floods had receded. With cell phone services disrupted in parts of Ambala, Shahbad and Kurukshetra, the stranded commuters faced much harassment. The traffic remained disrupted for about 40 minutes till the administration was able to make the mob see reason. A resident alleged that there had been no electricity and drinking water since the past two days.
(The Tribune, 8th of July 2010)

Villagers thrash staff, want polluting unit shifted
Rohtak: Residents of Mokhara village in Meham subdivision in the district are up in arms against the functioning of an industrial unit in the residential limits of the village alleging that it has been causing acute pollution, affecting the life of the villagers and their cattle. The protest of the locals against the unit turned violent last evening when some villagers allegedly forced their entry into the factory and thrashed employees. The complaint of violence was lodged by the Director of Bharat Chemical Factory, Ajay Gupta, who claimed that a mob of over 300 persons barged into the factory and indulged in violence and beat up the staff. The villagers have been demanding that the unit be shifted elsewhere as the chemical pollutants emitted by it were causing air and groundwater pollution, which had led to various kinds of diseases among both human beings and the cattle.
The police registered a case against over 300 villagers.
(The Tribune, 12th of July 2010)


Farmers block highway over power shortage
Ambala: Traffic on the National Highway 72-73, near Naraingarh, in Ambala district was blocked for nearly three hours yesterday by hundreds of farmers. They were angry over acute power shortage and feared that they will suffer huge losses if the authorities do not streamline the power supply. “Thousands of hectares of land in our district have dried up due to the drastic fall of power supply in the district. Power-run tube wells can lift only a little water,” said Darshan Singh, a resident of Naraingarh. “We fear huge losses in the current season, as we cannot afford to irrigate lands with diesel-run shallow pumps. Despite the government’s earlier declarations that farmers will get electricity for minimum eight hours, we get power for just three to four hours daily,” they alleged.
(The Tribune, 24th of June 2010)

Villagers lock up substation
Jind: The 132-kV substation at Nagura village in the district was locked up by the residents in protest against the poor supply of power from the past few days. This has been fourth such incident in the district during the ongoing summer season when the villagers have locked up a substation or held a demonstration against the poor power supply in the rural parts. Hundreds of villagers assembled at the substation today and asked the staff to vacate the place. It is reported that the protesters, who raised anti-government slogans, threatened to lock up power department offices against the failure of the department to supply adequate power to the village. The seizure came to an end after senior officials, including a DSP, reached the spot and pacified the agitators.
(The Tribune, 29th of June 2010)

Power staff stir
Rohtak: The Joint Action Committee (JAC) of the Haryana State Power Corporation Employees Union has announced to launch a statewide agitation from June 29 in protest against the state government’s failure to meet its long-standing demands and for carrying on with the policies of privatisation of the Power Department and its services.
(The Tribune, 24th of June 2010)

Power staff held captive for 14 hrs
Jind: At least five officials of the Uttar Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam (UHBVN), including an executive engineer and an SDO, were held captive by residents of Kurad village of Narwana subdivision here for 14 hours in protest against the poor supply of electricity. The officials were set free this morning after intervention of the police and senior officials. The villagers did not allow them to come out till the work was over. It is reported there had been an altercation over the work on transformer’s replacement to be done on the same night. While the employees and workers’ union of the power department staged a dharna in protest against the incident and threatened to stall work of power distribution and repairs till the safe release of all officials, the latter were set free this morning at 10.30 am following talks between the villagers and the district administration.
(The Tribune, 1st of July 2010)

Villagers hold up traffic over power
Jind: Hundreds of residents from four villages in the district blocked traffic near Alewa village on the Jind- Assandh road today in protest against the shortage of power in these villages. The road blockade, which continued for over one hour, was lifted following an assurance given by officials of the department concerned that they would address the issue. The protesters, who belonged to Alewa, Katwal, Gohiya and Khanda villages, came out on the main road, connecting the district with Assandh and Karnal. Irked by the erratic supply of power, villagers from Hinjrawan Kalan and Hinjrawan Khurd today laid a siege to their power substation and raised slogans against the functioning of the power utilities. Later, officials reached the spot and convinced the villagers to end their protest, assuring them of a better power supply in the future.
(The Tribune, 4th of July 2010)

Power demand at new high
New Delhi:It seems as if the power demand in national capital is hell bent on breaking its own records. It is the third time that a new record has been set by the power demand in the city in the past two months. The demand in the Delhi today surged past the earlier high of 4668 MW while touching 4720 MW in the evening. In June last year, the highest demand was recorded at 4,337 MW, since then there has been more than 8 per cent increase in demand.
(The Tribune, 1st of July 2010)

Industry reels under power shortage
Faridabad: The local industry is reeling under an acute shortage of power. An office-bearer of the FIA claimed that the industrial production had fallen by about 20 per cent due to the power shortage. Jain said the industry should get at least 15 hours of power supply to compete in the global market. Factories use “captive power source” like capital-intensive generator sets to keep their production going for an additional five hours. However, this was highly expensive as the per unit cost of power generated by gen sets worked about to about Rs 11. The cost of power per unit supplied by the department was about Rs 5.
(The Tribune, 24th of May 2010)


Street Fighting Days: Delhi Street-Sweepers have a Riot

Delhi's rulers spends billions on the prestigious Common Wealth Games, paying little to those who build and maintain the city. Construction workers already had a riot on Common Wealth sites after one too many fatal accidents. Now street sweepers had had it, they expressed their riotous souls and anger, demanding proper contracts and higher wages. Several cars got burnt, the police had to resolve to warning shots.

Submitted by Django on August 10, 2010

“Over 900 temporary safai karmacharis [street cleansing workers] indulged in widespread rioting early on Wednesday morning at Najafgarh in southwest Delhi. They were demanding permanent status and a hike in salaries for all Grade IV employees. Before the stunned and highly outnumbered local policemen could react, the protestors had barged into the MCD’s zonal office, beaten up its staff and smashed furniture. The arrival of reinforcements in the form of PAC personnel and an RAF unit at the spot only added fuel to the fire with the protestors blocking the main Najafgarh Road, attacking vehicles and setting them on fire. MCD officials said the protests had been going on for the past three days. The violence, that lasted for over an hour, began around 9.35 am. According to cops, 17 cars were damaged along with five low-floor DTC buses and four DJB tankers. “A Gypsy belonging to the SHO of Najafgarh, Anand Sagar, was set on fire and got completely wrecked. The SHO himself was injured when the mob began pelting the cops with stones. The Chawla SHO, Sandeep Gupta, too had to be admitted to hospital. In all, over 14 policemen had to be admitted at the hospital. The police said they had to fire eight rounds of tear gas shells even as additional force from at least four neighbouring police stations, besides the RAF and PAC, were despatched to the spot. However, when these shells too could not disperse the mob, cops had to fire in the air. “We fired five rounds in the air to disperse the crowd. We have arrested 14 protestors, four of whom are women,” said a senior officer from the southwest district. Delhi mayor P R Sawhney said: “The protest by safai karamcharis at Najafgarh is unwarranted and we will take strict action against them on Thursday if they do not report for duty. Such incidents take place when senior officials like the deputy commissioner of a zone is not strict with his/her staff. We are starting a cleanliness drive from Thursday and will not let such a protest come in the way of it being successful. If need be, we will take stern action against the safai karamcharis”. MCD has a total of 45,000 safai karamcharis out of which 5,000 are daily wagers. The civic body has been promising these people, hired on a daily wage basis from 1994 onwards, that they would be regularised”.
(The Tribune, 1st of July 2010)


Gurgaon: A Paranoid Post-Neo-Liberal City

Neo-liberal endorphins are re-ceeding, land-prices dropping, bonuses in the middle-management departments coming down. The city wakes up, looks around itself and startles in fear: who are all these people left out by the rush?! We start with a comment posted on GurgaonWorkersNews expressing the general angst towards the unknown proletarian aliens. The city soothes itself in booze and online-checks on its servants: are they Maoists? In the end we have to create our own ideal world of neo-rich India without the poor: “The Kingdom of Dreams”, a soapy-bubbly image of our gated fantasy.

Submitted by Django on August 10, 2010

Comments of Social Fear

New comment on your post #26 “Gurgaon Photos”
Author : sumit yadav (IP: ,
E-mail : [email protected]
Whois :
In gurgaon villages be it be chakkarpur of any other village along with poor bengalis there are BANGLADESHI who have mixed with bengalis they have crossed the border got voter’s id card from Communist leades of bengals so they can vote their party in gurgaon they are in contact with muslim theft mafias of Mewat (a crime famous muslim dominated area) every days tens of vehicles robbed from gurgaon by these bangladeshi’s and parked in Mewat. Police is either hand in glove with these bangladeshi thieves of gets beaten in mewat.

You can see all comments on this post here:


The millennium city is guzzling alcohol like never before
GURGAON, March 21
Records provided by the excise department revealed that the city sold liquor worth Rs 295.23 crore during 2009-2010. S B Sharma, district excise and taxation commissioner (excise), said: “In 2008-09, we sold liquor worth Rs 165.22 crore. The figure rose by Rs 130 crore this year, which is an all-time high for the city.” Interestingly, consumption of liquor tripled in February this year compared to the corresponding period last year.
(The Tribune)

Internet Check

Verification of domestic help goes online
Gurgaon, May 16
Gurgaon Police Commissioner Surjeet Singh Deswal yesterday launched a programme for residents’ security, under which any resident can place a request for the police verification of domestic help, tenants and drivers online.
“The programme, based on the public-private partnership model, has been started on an experimental basis. A company had approached the Gurgaon police for preparing a database of the floating population, especially the domestic help, tenants and drivers, and the work has been entrusted to it as an experiment. If some more companies approach us, we will allot them other areas,” Deswal maintained. Ashwani Narula, CEO of Hamari Suraksha Software Solutions, said the residents could apply for police verification on the website. Following this, a representative of the company would visit their house and upload the photo, scan identity proof like driving licence or PAN card and fingerprints with a biometric device. The data so collected would be handed over to the police, which would get it verified from the police authorities at the person’s native place.
(The Tribune)


Red alert: Naxals draw up plan to shake urban India
Gurgaon, March 12, 2010
The Maoists are carrying their fight against the Indian state into urban India. A 129-page Maoist document titled ‘Strategy and Tactics of the Indian War’, seized recently by security forces, states: “Our presence today in key industries is extremely low. It is a pressing need that we enter key industries such as transport, communications, railways, ports, power, oil and gas and defence equipment. This is crucial for the success of our revolution.” The targets: Gurgaon, the Mumbai-Pune and Ahmedabad-Surat industrial belts and the Kolkata-Bhilai-Ranchi-Dhanbad region. “Maoists are trying to infiltrate trade unions of political parties,” a top intelligence officer, who gave Hindustan Times access to the document, said. The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) has urged the government to address security concerns of the private sector. In a report on “National Security and Terrorism,” a task force of FICCI has favoured the creation of a national counter-terrorism agency; a national intelligence grid; Ministry of internal security with a full-fledged Cabinet Minister; and a new intelligence agency to deal with non-state actors. Recognising the role of IT in the war against terror, it called for improving the quality and mechanisms for exchanging relevant information between government and business.

Kingdom of Dreams

Gurgaon to become key tourist destination with Kingdom of Dreams
Gurgaon, January 21, 2010
Kingdom of Dreams, a 5.66 acre entertainment and leisure hotspot that will showcase Bollywood musicals and boast of an elaborate arts and food boulevard, is set to make the capital’s suburb an important destination for international tourists, says project director Viraf Sarkari.’In India, we don’t have any top quality tourist destination which gives a real taste of the country except for a few like the Taj Mahal. When people have foreign guests and they have to entertain some, they either take them to a five-star hotel for a meal or if one is lucky, there might be a kathak dancer performing live somewhere. With Kingdom of Dreams, we are trying to create that one-stop where a tourist or anyone can have the feel of everything Indian,’ Sarkari told IANS. Culture Gully is a kaleidoscope of India’s cultural, artistic and culinary diversity. Artificial clouds line the ceiling of the place and a pan-Indian cultural ambience will be created in the street-like area.’We are also happy as this project will generate a lot of employment for our people,’ he added.


The Social Tsunami Impact: Snap-Shots against Capital-Class-Crisis

This is an attempt to introduce a regular update on general tendencies of crisis development in India – motivated by Greek shock-waves, naked shorts and potential spillovers. Apart from short glimpses on the macro-level of things we focus on general trends in agriculture and automobile sector: the current demise of the past and the toxicity of the future.

Submitted by Django on August 10, 2010

The Macro Crisis

To put the core of the social crisis in symbolic-statistical terms: Export constitutes around 15 per cent of the Indian GDP – it’s share increasing over the last years. IT related-services constitute 20 per cent of the export. IT stands for less than 0.1 per cent of total employment. This is the character of the boom. More than half of the children in India are malnourished, rural hunger in India is higher than in Sub-Saharan Africa. That’s the core of social reality. The current attempt of the Indian state is two-pronged in order to control the blib inbetween: push money in more substantial manufacturing/export at all cost, spend the rest of the credit money on keeping rural crisis at bay, be it through farmers’ subsidies or through counter-insurgency. This two-front war costs more money than the 8 per cent GDP growth creates. The state is compelled to attack proletarian living standards more harshly: the increase of fuel prices in June 2010 was a necessary play with fire. Things can get hotter than the token general strike of July 5!

At this point we also want to hint towards the velvet glove of counter-insurgency: the instrumentalisation of well-meaning NGO work by those in power. Currently the states discover the importance of ‘small-scale’ farming and artisan-work as a way to individualise or ‘cooperativise’ the misery created by the mass loss of jobs and bankruptcies. Here one example about the flag-ship of feminist NGO’s SEWA being hailed by the US officials during the bi-state summit in July 2010:
“The miracle of SEWA is a treasure of India. It is also a treasure that the world is getting to share and benefit from it more and more. They have a huge fan in the Secretary of State (Hillary Clinton),” Verveer said. As SEWA expands its operations outside India in countries like Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, she said the US would like to collaborate with this Indian NGO. Referring to the recent strategic dialogue between India and the US, she said the two countries have agreed to take SEWA’s self help lesson and grow it more broadly in terms of capacity building regionally and also to grow the work that SEWA has been doing in Afghanistan.”

The Euro Crisis

How can we summarise two month of global crisis in India? May and June have see publicly displayed insecurities of the elite concerning ripple-effects of the Euro crisis.

“To some extent, it will have some influence, but… the adverse impact will be limited… I think the European crisis is not going to have as adverse an effect as happened in the 2008-09 crisis.”

(Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, 21 May 2010)

His official added, that in any case, India had very little direct exposure to European countries at the centre of the crisis, with the country’s banking system having no direct links with them and exports to Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy only 4 per cent of total exports.

A day after this statement the media announced the worst ever week for the Rupee since 1995, the rate of the Rupee to the USD dropped significantly (about 5.5 per cent sice end of April) after short-term investors withdrew about 20 billion USD from Indian finance markets during May 2010 – the sharpest reversal in foreign capital inflows since the Lehman Brothers collapse. The Reserve Bank of India had to jump in and induce 3.5 billion USD its 280 billion USD foreign currency reserves into the draining market. RBI governor Duvvuri Subbarao seemed much more worried than the Finance Minister some days previous, when he announced during the G20 summit: “India’s reserves comprise essentially borrowed resources and we are, therefore, more vulnerable to sudden stops and reversals compared with countries with current account surpluses”. And the impact is palpable not only in fiscal terms: “After a positive trend in April India’s apparel export, impacted by events in Europe, dropped by an annual 6.8 per cent to USD 820 million in May 2010″ (ET, 6th of July 2010). “Exports of passenger cars from India declined by over three per cent in June to 36,874 units, mainly due to slowdown in demand from Europe (ET, 9th of July 2010). In July 2010 Reuters announced a ‘widening trade deficit’ due to the EU crisis: “India’s trade deficit was $117.3 billion in 2009/10, down from $118.7 billion in 2008/09. This gap is likely to widen to $132.70 billion in 2010/11 and $154.50 billion in 2011/12″.

Just to give some broad figures relating to the 20 billion USD flight from Indian market:
Total GDP 2009: 1,367 Billion USD
Total Export 2009: 165 Billion USD
External Debts 2009: around 200 Billion USD
Public debts of GDP 2009: 60 per cent

The Limits of Deficit Spending

Together with the US the Indian state is the global defender of ‘stimulus-policies’, warning of the dangers of deflation see discussions on last G20 meeting in Toronto. The Indian state tries to stimulate the manufacturing/export sector, thereby increasing fiscal deficit and inflation. At the beginning of June the press reported that the fiscal deficit increased by 25 per cent in 2009 to 2010. Indian inflation hit double digits in May 2010, the highest in any G20 nation, sparking concerns that prices were running out of control and putting pressure on the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to raise rates even before a quarterly review. Inflation is the result of a ‘soft-approach’ to the looming recession. Seeing deficits and inflation grow the state has to tackle things the hard way. Major part of the Indian state deficit is attributed to the ‘subsidy’-bill, or in better terms ‘the areas of low taxation’. Money has to be shifted, the ‘unproductive or unprofitable subsidies’ are supposed to be cut down.

Fuel accounts for a quarter of the state’s estimated subsidy bill of 1.2 trillion rupees. But does that mean that the government of India is ‘net subsidising’ the oil sector? Comrades from Sanhati come to a different conclusion:
“In fact, direct subsidy is a tiny fraction (less than 1 percent) of the total tax revenues from the oil sector. Second, the total contribution of the oil sector to the exchequer has been higher than the sum of under recoveries of the OMCs and direct subsidies on petroleum products for all the years since fiscal 2004. Third, even the sum of duties (customs and excise) and (sales) taxes on petroleum products, which is only a fraction of the total contribution of the oil sector to the exchequer, has exceeded the sum of under recoveries of the OMCs and direct subsidies in all the years since 2004-05. (…) The oft-repeated assertion that petroleum products are subsidized in India is simply not true.” (Click for Sanhati report)

Regardless of the question of ‘actual net subsidies’ or ‘less taxation’, inflation has been high – the state officials announce beginning of June that the double digit inflation will be reduced to around six to seven per cent anytime soon; then they pour more oil into the inflation-fire: end of June the government decided to ‘reform’ the state-controlled fuel market and to free-float the prices of petrol and diesel, triggering an immediate petrol price-rise of five to ten per cent using the ‘high subsidy bill’ as an excuse. Who pays is the proletarian population. Asfia Malik, who is a schoolteacher, said to The Hindu: “Daily wage workers and even salaried people will not be able to afford the cooking kerosene cylinder now. Its price has increased from Rs 310 to Rs 345″. The reform sat well with the markets, days after the decision the oil stock prices rose, and with the G20 summit, which urged the phasing out of fossil fuel subsidies. Finance Minister Mukherjee said the recent fuel prices will have a direct impact on inflation by 0.9 per cent in the short-term. Still, there would be some cascading impact on food inflation and primary articles inflation. The food inflation will also potentially be aggravated by the recent decision by Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar to “consider a proposal to levy import tax on wheat”.

The inflation does not only hit the consumption side. Following example shows the impact of costlier fuel and power for certain industries: “The recent hike in electricity duty from 10 to 13 per cent has made power in Punjab the second-most expensive in India. Registering protest against the hike, members of the Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) today threatened to shut down their factories and move to other states”. Obviously these are only snap-shots, but they show how the state tries to juggle its ‘subsidy’ debts, how ‘stimulus’ and ‘stifling-inflation’ interact. One of the general explanations for the source of the inflation are the stimulus package and low interest rates by the government plus the inflow of short-term investment from crisis ridden North towards the emerging markets during 2009 – 2010. On 16th of June one of the leading bankers in India delivered another reason for the inflation: a decline in productive investment within India. “The industry is behind its cycle of investment. The demand is outstripping supply and the industry has been slow to invest in capacity,” Banking major HSBC India country head Naina Lal Kidwai said. This sheds a quite different light on the ‘manufacturing back on full-capacity’-success stories of the government.

Selling Assets

If you cannot save enough money – because you might be afraid of the popular reaction – or you cannot tax a struggling economy more, you have to sell your assets. In May 2010 the Indian state sold third generation (3G) bandwidth for mobile phone services, the state earned 15 billion USD, twice the sum expected – the auction caused a short-term liquidity crunch on the market trying to raise money. In May 2010 the commerce and industry ministry was expected to propose 100 per cent foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail, opening the doors to the likes of Wal-Mart, Carrefour and Tesco. The opening of the market is a major ‘hot-issue’ given the tens of millions of small traders in India, one of the main ‘social parking-spaces’ for the under-employed and failed peasants. An official of the ministry tried to counteract the widespread fear of mass bankruptcy: “The idea is that big multi-brand retail outlets should enable growth of small retailers and not threaten their existence”. A week later the media reported from the US: “The world’s largest retailer Wal-Mart has solicited support from the US government for entering the multi-billion dollar Indian retail market, where foreign investment norms are posing hurdles to its entry. The company is lobbying with the US Congress members as also the departments of commerce, trade and treasury, among others, to put forward its case on issues like “discussions on India and Foreign Direct Investment”, and “enhanced market access for investment in China and India.” Three weeks later we could read from India: “The Department of Training and Technical Education (TTE) will sign an MoU with Bharti Wal Mart (BWM) Private Limited to provide free skill development training to students enrolled in certain courses to help them obtain employment. The agreement will be signed by principal secretary, Department of TTE, Anand Prakash and vice-president, Corporate Affairs of the Bharti Wal Mart, Arti Singh. The expenditure will be borne by BWM”. Just a minor example how the world’s biggest companies are more intensively pushing into remaining markets, how capital concentrates and is about to be crushed by it’s weight.

The Response of the Labour Movement

Concerning the response of the labour movement there are certain global parallels. In response to inflation and petrol price hikes the opposition parties and unions called for a general strike on 5th of July 2010 – matching the general trend for ‘popular’, but largely symbolic mobilisations like in the PIIGS-states. There have been sporadic local protests against the fuel-price-hike immediately after announcement of the ‘reform’. On 5th of July the CPI announced a ‘major success’ of the general strike, while about 4,380 people, mostly workers of BJP and Left parties, were detained during the protests in Delhi alone – we will try to present some more accurate ‘local picture’ of the stage-show: “The all India hartal to protest against the steep increase in the prices of petroleum products has been an unprecedented success. Despite detention and arrests of thousands of protesters, there was a bandh like situation in all parts of the country with shops, business establishments, transport and educational institutions being closed. This has been the most widespread protest action in the country in recent years”. A friend from Manesar said on the phone: “Well, the shops are shut, the busses run infrequent… but the factories are running.” A similar impression – but from the other side of the barricade – had a reporter of the ET (Click).

Air India and British Airways workers’ unions had to go to court over ‘legal right to strike’ at about the same time. The crisis hits the airlines hard, the question of resistance to large-scale re-structuring is on the political and legal agenda. “Air India staff have called off a two-day strike that left tens of thousands of passengers stranded after an Indian court declared the stoppage illegal. Aviation analyst Kapil Kaul said it was the first time in 20 years he had seen union leaders being dismissed. The Delhi high court granted the injunction on Wednesday and directed the striking employees to return to work. The government had called the strike “irresponsible.” The government had given a $168m bailout to the ailing state-run airline and promised $252m more. Analysts say the airline’s 30,000-strong workforce needs to be cut by half to make it competitive.” (ET, 27th of May 2010).

While Honda workers struck in China Hyundai workers struck in India, the police arrested 200 workers in Chennai – at a time when Asia is hailed as the last resort of the global car industry. While Foxconn workers in China expressed anger and desperation about their electronic misery, workers at Nokia in India laid down tools in mid-July 2010: The industrial action at the Sriperumbudur factory, which employees about 8,000 people, is the third dispute to hit the Finnish company in the last 12 months. Another proletarian crisis-related outburst worth mentioning were the protests of Vietnamese, Indian and other Asian construction workers in Dubai – following non-payment of wages in May 2010. These parallels are obviously still ‘non-communicating parallels’, but they follow a pattern. Finally we want to document a good strike report on the dispute of railway-workers in Mumbai (Click).

The Counter-Insurgency

In terms of counter-insurgency the Indian government declared the possibility of using army air-force against the Maoists, after Dantewada land-mine attacks end of May. The state withdraw the official threat at first. On 5th of July the state announced using Border Security Force (BSF) in specific special operations against Maoists. The BSF is deployed in Kashmir and northeastern states, using army helicopters. Apart from militarisation the focus of repression shifted towards the radical wings of workers’ unions in states like Punjab and Gujarat – states which have so far been seen as being outside the so-called ‘Red Corridore’. The state force arrested several unionists in end of June in Punjab and Gujarat. On 22nd of June 2010 we could read in Chandigarh Tribune: “The Punjab Police has sought a special Central assistance of Rs 100 crore to build capacity to counter the ‘growing’ Maoist threat to the state. Security agencies claim Maoists have entrenched themselves among several extreme-Left organisations which are taking on the state through a series of mass movements. The organisations named by Punjab Police sources for ‘harbouring’ Maoists include the BKU – Ugrahan, Dakonda, Ekta and Krantikari groups, Punjab Kisan Union, two Kisan Sangharsh Committee groups, Kirti Kisan Sabha, Punjab Kisan Union, Jamhoori Kisan Sabha, Dehati Mazdoor Sabha, Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union and two groups of Pendu Mazdoor Union, Mazdoor Mukti Morcha and Krantikari Pendu Mazdoor Union. A total of nine alleged Maoist sympathisers have been arrested including one “permanent” member Harnek Singh, who was arrested with a revolver from Ferozepur”. A longer summary of the arrests can be found at Sanhati (Click):

The Rural Crisis

As we have said earlier on, capitalism in India will have to push and pull at two main developmental front-lines in order to steer through social crisis: the rural and the urban-industrial. We have a monthly glance at the main tendencies within the agrarian and automobile sector representing these two front-lines.

GDP and Food Grain Production

While general GDP growth was put at 7.4 per cent in financial year 2010, growth of agriculture was at 0.2 per cent. Given the bad rainfall and the bad food grain harvest – accounting for 70 per cent of the total output – most commentators thought that the announcement of a positive growth was surprising. Total food grain production fell by nearly 7 per cent in FY10. Major commercial crops like oil seeds and sugarcane had also recorded a decline in their output in the range of 4 to 8 per cent. In June the state announced a 0.5 per cent increase in the Minimum Support Price for paddy paid to farmers. Wheat and rice are the main ‘procurement crops’, the state often procures directly from farmers, while pulses – the other main food grain – is mainly bought by private traders. The government procured 33 million tonne rice last year. India’s total rice production is around 98 million tonne. The picture looks different when it comes to pulses. India is a net importer of pulses and the sharp rise in prices is on account of higher commodity prices globally. The country produced 14.77 million tonnes in 2009-10 against a requirement of 18-19 million tonnes. While pulses – and to a certain extend wheat – have to be imported, commercial crops like cotton are exported. China, India and Argentina urged the US during the last WTO summit to drop import tariffs – protecting cotton industry in the US. Cotton prices have dropped severely during 2009, China turned from major import destination to export hub, due to internal overproduction.

The Subsidies

In the public discussion about the state’s deficit the subsidies for the rural world is seen as the mill-stone around the neck of national prosperity. On 8th of June 2010 the Financial Express summarised some of the ‘main culprits’, with a demand for ‘reform’:
India provides cheap foodgrains and pulses to nearly 180 million poor or low-income families through a public distribution system that will cost nearly $12.6 billion in the year to end-March 2011.It accounts for about 5 percent of the budget.
To help farmers and boost farm output, the government fixes the prices of some fertilisers and pays a subsidy to producers to compensate for selling below cost. The bill is pegged at $11.2 billion in the current fiscal year, an increase of 5.7 percent on the previous year. It accounts for 4.5 percent of the budget.
The government guarantees each rural household 100 days of work in a year, a scheme that costs it just under 1 percent of GDP, or 3.6 percent of the budget.
The government subsidises the interest costs on some farm and housing loans and for some pension plans, at a cost of about $1 billion in 2010/11 budget.

Selling Land-Titles

If the land does not provide profitable returns as soil, it can be sold. The mass-bankruptcies of small farmers demand a more regulated legal frame-work for selling-and-buying of land. One of the other ‘reforms’ requested by state and advisors like the IMF is the de-regulation of the land-market. In large parts of India it is still about the introduction of proper land-titles, a legal proof for owner-ship over land, in order to trade it. On 29th of May a small column in the ET mentioned these quite substantial changes in over-all commodity relations: (Column : Why giving land titles is hard) “The rural development ministry’s Department of Land Resources now has a draft Land Titling Bill 2010. The overall idea is the Torrens system, implemented in several common law countries, after its origins in Australia. Obviously, there are several prerequisites before the proposed land titling authority can guarantee titles. There has to be a title registry and there have to be survey settlements. The land information system and use of this for valuing property will follow. The proposed Land Titling Tribunal, to supplant recourse to courts, is also a subsequent matter. Enough technology is available to match satellite-based images with survey records and digitise cadastral maps”. Put a name to it, then a price tag. Shortly after draft for the ‘Land Titling Bill 2010′ the Punjabi government announced the introduction of a new land purchase policy in July 2010.

The policy “allows the state to buy land for various projects from owners through a process of tender-based bidding. As part of the new policy, various urban development agencies of the state can buy land from the owners at the rate quoted by them if the rates suit the government. The policy, he added, has the nod of the Cabinet”. By introduction of this policy the state wants to further individualise the issue of ‘compensation for land grab’, by facilitating individual exchange relation-ships. The state formalises, what has happened behind the doors informally anyway. The state also hopes to speed-up the dealing, hoping to get hold of land within 2 to 3 months.

The Rural proletariat

Those who have nothing to sell and nothing to lose depend on the rural labour market. One of the main state-measures to control the reproduction of the rural proletariat is the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS). While official minimum wages have been hiked in various states (up to 40 per cent in Delhi and UP), the following example from Rajasthan shows the current trend of actual wages. It is too early to say, but it seems that with the crisis the wage gap between urban and rural proletarians seems to widen.

JAIPUR: About 2,000 MGNREGA workers from across the state would demonstrate on Thursday near the Statue Circle over the poor payments in the scheme and against the state government’s alleged step-motherly attitude towards them. According to the state’s MGNREGA website, the average payment of workers of this scheme which was Rs 89 per day last year has now fallen to Rs 70 per day. `While the prices of goods have sky-rocketed over the year the average payment for MGNREGA workers, according to the government’s own estimate, has gone down.
(Times of India, 24th of June)

The Automobile Crisis

In May 2010 all major car manufacturers in India reported an increase in passenger car sales between 20 and 40 per cent for April 2010 compared to last year’s sales. Domestic car sales were 143,976 in April, up from 103,227 in the same month last year, led by Maruti Suzuki, which sold 80,034 units. The over-all annual growth of the passenger car market has slowed down: in 2010-11 the market grew 12 to 13 per cent, compared to 25 per cent in 2009-10. Not only did certain cheap credit schemes run out, car prices went up, as well: SIAM president Pawan Goenka said over the past six months prices of natural rubber had increased 40 per cent, while that of pig iron and steel had risen by 25 per cent and 10 per cent respectively. As we wrote in the last ‘Social Tsunami Impact’ export sales grow substantially faster than domestic sales – we can currently observe the emergence of actual ‘global car production’ in Asia. The ‘boom’ in India is accompanied by strikes of car workers at Honda and Toyota in China, by 200 arrests of striking workers at Hyundai in India.

With the entry of Indian car factories into the global market, global production standards are adopted. Despite the generally lower wage levels, the final assembly in India is using a composition of labour/capital similar to the North: At Maruti Suzuki 340 programmed robots are involved in spot welding (joining sheets), handling and sealing robots come from behind to complete the welding process, which was largely manual until a few years ago. Things will not be much different at other major exporters. In May 2010 Nissan said it has started commercial production of small car ‘Micra’ from its plant in Chennai, which it plans to make a global export hub. The India-made Micra will be exported to “strategic markets” such as Europe, the Middle East and Africa as part of its plans to sell the car in over 100 countries. The new Micra will be produced in five countries — Thailand, India, China and Mexico. The fifth location is yet to be decided. Two-wheeler manufacturer Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India (HMSI) is planning to raise its exports to 110,000 units of motorcycles and scooters this fiscal over 80,000 units last year. “In a span of eight years the export destinations have crossed 50. We not only export to developing countries, we also export to the developed nations of Europe,” said Shinji Aoyama, HMSI president and chief executive officer.

Apart from ‘ready-made’-automobile the global supply-chain for car parts extends, as well. India’s Apollo Tyres announced in June to supply tyres to German car maker Volkswagen in Europe. Chinese parts manufacturers are looking towards India as a cheaper and – compared to their home-turf – more peaceful production hub. In June the Economic Times reported: “Chinese automobile and component manufacturers are queuing up to drive into the Indian market, second only to their own in pace of growth, with the intention of using it as a low-cost export base”. We expect that some of the recent industrial unrest in China is bound to be exported, too.


About the Project

Submitted by Django on August 10, 2010

You can find two more English translations of texts by Faridabad Majdoor Samachar on their web-blog. The texts concern the question of proletarian housing and state control over reproduction: