|Thursday, March 23, 2000,
scores, without trying
bomb is ticking
demand greater say
March 23, 1925
IT sounds horribly self-congratulatory but the fact is that India has scored three significant diplomatic points on Wednesday without the political establishment actually trying. The first related to a little noticed meeting between President Clinton and Rachna Katyal, the young widow of the only victim of the Indian Airlines hijacking late last year. He followed it up with a public expression of sympathy for the other hostages while condemning the crime itself, which is widely thought to be the handiwork of the Pakistan authorities. The visiting President could not have sent a clearer message of censure to Pakistan than this. That the USA has always opposed hijacking of any plane by any group lends this opposition a natural flavour. The second gain was unexpected, and the terrorists operating in Kashmir will rue their action for months to come. They had planned and killed three dozen Sikh farmers with a narrow aim: bring the escalating violence in the valley on the top of the Indo-US agenda and hope that the President, a crusader for human rights and democracy, will side with azadi-lovers. The sheer number of the victims and the international profile of their community made the terrorist crime counter-productive. The outrage, coming a few hours before the formal start of his state visit, found President Clinton nudging vigorously towards the Indian position. Thus was born his formulation that talks between the two neighbours could not go hand-in-hand with violence which should first be rejected. If the terrorists expected any thanks from the US President for proving that this region is indeed the most dangerous place in the subcontinent, they only provoked a withering rebuke.
This most-dangerous-place claptrap is not the product of some idle, alarmist mind. It has the potential of providing the logic for direct western interference in imposing a solution on the Kashmir problem. This is the scenario the authors of this scary perception had in mind. They drew heavily on the experience of first Bosnia and then Albania, both former provinces of Serbia or what was once Yugoslavia. Both erupted on world conscience when intrepid fighters for azadi took on military oppressors. As those who scripted the thriller lifted their eyes from southern Europe to South Asia, they decided to see parallels azadi-lovers and army crackdown. In fact this theory was woven into the NATO doctrine at its 50th anniversary bash. The Monday night massacre was supposed to project Kashmir as a latter-day Bosnia or Albania, crying out for humanitarian NATO intervention. That sordid plan has gone up in smoke and for good.
It was left to President
Narayanan and earlier to Prime Minister Vajpayee to
disabuse the visiting VVIPs mind of this dangerous
nonsense. The Prime Minister freely admitted that there
were clashes but the situation was not all that bad. The
Indian President was more forthright. His well-rounded
thoughts couched in sharp prose rang across the dinner
hall. The incessant talk of this region being the most
dangerous place helped and encouraged only the
terrorists, he said, exposing the core of the idea. He
continued with his clinical examination. Should such a
situation warrant the abdication of government obligation
to protect the life and limb of the people? Having ripped
apart the argument, he went for the knockout blow, but in
his silken soft, persuasive voice. That is the reason why
India needed nuclear deterrence, he explained, but this
country is harmless as it has pledged not to use the
deadly weapons first and not go for a massive pile up. It
appears that President Narayanan contributed much input
to the speech, though tradition ordains that he reads out
the text handed down by the government. President Clinton
has two and a half days to mull over what he heard in
Delhi and decide what he should say and do in Islamabad.
SENIOR Congressmen think that the new alignments in various states have highlighted the need to make "a street approach" to the problems facing the country. The Pachmarhi Declaration is "too philosophical to yield quick results". The party's participation in the governments in Maharashtra, Bihar and Pondicherry is demanding an aggressive approach. An intra-party debate on economic reforms has begun. It is good for the party. But corruption, the basic malady, needs to be addressed first. It should be seen as a monster that spares no one in any walk of life. During the last Assembly elections, almost every political party put up candidates against whom charges of corruption had been levelled either in public or in courts of law. Many of such candidates have been elected. They will, henceforth, be our law-makers and mentors. Parallel economy, black money, unethical investment and despicable greed for profit at the cost of the suffering people are some of the patent manifestations of corruption. A Congress spokesman derided "corrupt politicians" in other political parties on Monday. Party President Sonia Gandhi, speaking at a rally in the Union Capital, targeted self-seeking politicians without realising the fact that her party harbours a large number of persons with a sullied reputation. Mr Arjun Singh, Mr Madhavarao Scindia and Mr Priyaranjan Das Munshi, who have often spoken about corruption in a reformist tone, have ended up blaming their political rivals for the evils emanating from unethical practices. It is necessary for what was called a battleship in action before Independence to do a proper self-inquest and begin a new chapter by getting removed even the faintest taint in public life.
The Congress needs
rejuvenation which can come from men and women of
integrity. Integrity demands a high price in terms of
incorruptibility. The nation did not get a chance to see
the signs of political transparency during the recent
poll and the party continues to live futuristically in
partial amnesia. Political corruption is as old as the
history of government. It has not made a distinction
among cultures, systems of governance or ideologies. In
ancient Greece and Rome, it increased from the expansion
of city-states to commercial power and imperial
domination. In medieval Europe, privileges and exemptions
were open to purchase from the Church as well as the
State. In medieval England, the public duty of serving in
Parliament had become so unpopular that men often paid to
avoid it. The rise of the Tudors showed a different kind
of influence-building. David Chalmers says that after the
restoration of the Stuart kings in 1660 the king and his
opponents competed not by fighting an election but by
corruption. Reforms have come to India as they came
to England through a combination of middle class
demands, intellectual concern and the needs of political
modernisation. Think of those models the Reforms
Act of 1832, Disraelis reforms law of 1867 and
Gladstones dispensation of 1884. Onwards, we get
into the murky arena of elections. The rest of life or
lifestyle gets scant attention. Hardly any state is
willing to enforce the laws and make public the so-called
financial disclosures made by the lobbyists, ably
assisted by some pharisees and scribes. Our
revolutionaries, including total
revolutionaries, have given us sermons,
guidelines and codes of conduct. But we continue to slide
down the high hill of morality. However, there is a
mysterious fact in the Indian tradition, various
contradictions notwithstanding. The moral strand has not
been destroyed despite the vicissitudes. Our sense of
essential rectitude has held us together
within the four corners so
symbolically laid down by Ashoka by his pillars, by the
Shankaracharya by his math and by Sher Shah and Akbar by
their public work and monuments. In this D.P. Mukherji
sees the active principle of an antidote to corruption, a
strand of history and a stubborn, patient and silent
social process. This process can take care of deviant
conduct, of corruption and even of judges misjudging
their conduct. All politicians, particularly the overly
articulate Congressmen, should make self-determination,
not determinism, the grammar of their existence. The
current discussions are progressing on the right lines
and are welcome.
THE views expressed by the participants at the Second World Water Forum at the Hague brought into sharp focus the need for evolving new and effective strategies for correcting imbalances caused by poor management of the life-sustaining natural resource. The global concern over the unfair distribution of water as a source of friction between communities and nations deserves a qualified welcome because not too long ago scarcity of water was treated as merely a local problem. Queen Noor of Jordan put the issue in perspective, while participating in the session on "Vision for Water and Nature", by pointing out that "those who use the lion's share of the world's water must share with those who have less, their resources, expertise and understanding of the challenges" related to the fair distribution of water. It is indeed unfair to place the bulk of the burden of ecological preservation on those very countries which are facing extreme shortage of resources, educational facilities, infrastructure and the economic muscle to fashion their own destinies. A number of countries in Africa are currently going through a phase of political instability caused by their lack of understanding of how to manage their own resources for exorcising the ghost recurring drought and famine. They need help not condemnation. The global initiative should ideally try to help secure the livelihood of local communities around the world through better management of perhaps the most precious yet abused natural resource.Queen Noor, who has emerged as the most vocal champion of the rights of the under-privileged sections of the global community to their fair share of the life-sustaining resource, virtually stole the thunder at the conference at the Hague by firmly stating that "keeping ecosystems alive should be a guiding principle in the decisions we make. This of course is not an easy task. Different parts of the world have their own reasons for ignoring environmental needs. Wealth breeds indifference while poverty breeds desperation".
But the end result is
the same as far as the damage caused to the fragile
ecosystem is concerned by acts of indifference or
desperation. It goes without saying that to effect
changes in the attitude of the developed North, where
abundance of both money and natural resources results in
colossal wastage of water, would require extraordinary
commitment to the issue discussed at the Hague. It is one
thing to see the face of poverty from the air-conditioned
comfort of a luxury coach and quite another to actually
"live" the agony of those who virtually survive
on the water drawn from the nearest gutter. Without the
informed involvement of the rich North in correcting
global imbalances of natural resources the developing
South, where the worst natural shortages occur and
poverty makes survival a priority, environmental concerns
would continue to be ignored. It is the duty of the
developed societies to draw up plans for creating
awareness among individuals and communities for the wise
use of the resource called water.. The sponsors of the
Hague conference have drawn up what appears to be a
workable roadmap which if honestly implemented could
result in the creation of a "sustainable water
world". It includes caring for the ecosystem,
empowering people to create a system which encourages
equitable sharing of water and creating the political
will for good governance.
WHAT has impelled me to take up a theme which in the context of Indian public life has lost its force, if not its relevance, are the stunning results of the Bihar elections the bewildering and defiant triumph of Laloo Yadav despite the massed strength of powerful foes, and the election of several known criminals and corrupt elements to the Legislative Assembly. Which shows almost conclusively that corruption has now become a non-issue. With the stories of corruption in high places having lost much of their appeal, thanks to the sickening sense of indifference, ennui and unconcern engendered over the years as a consequence of the repeated mock-cases and mock-trials, and the miscarriage of justice, chiefly through executive equivocation, interference and pressure, its not surprising that the common man too has turned blase, shrugging off the media write-ups, accepting the phenomenon as an inescapable reality as implacable as fate, as ubiquitous as the foul air around.
In a way, the Indira Gandhi thesis corruption as a universal, world-wide thing one has to accept and live with has at last been canonised in certain new bibles of economic thought, particularly since the glittering march of globalisation. Indeed, some American economic thinkers and pundits have averred that corruption is a necessary ingredient of rapid economic growth, a catalysing agent. The Bofors issue whose ghost is conveniently raised now and then by the changing New Delhi rulers and then allowed to sneak away into the graveyard till further use, has among other things, become an acceptable archetype in our bodypolitic. And to cite the cases of the Jain Havala farce, of the double-faced attitude of the Congress and NDA governments in regard to the irrepressible Laloo Yadav, or to the Chennai dowager of dung, Jayalalitha, in obedience to the political imperatives of the moment is only to waste ink and paper, as it were. And then there are, to be sure, scores and scores of other political Jacks and Jills, and thousands of bureaucrats all along the line and across the board, not to speak of the whole battalions of petty itching palms in every walk of life that make any narrative a long despairing exercise. Whether the Vittal offensive on the website the naming of some IAS bureaucrats and others involved in corruption will be allowed to proceed to clean up the mess at least symbolically, or called to halt when the Masters and their minions themselves start feeling the heat is yet to be seen. As things look, the crusading Vittal is likely soon enough to be laughed out of court as yet another Don Quixote tilting at windmills!
If I have not touched upon other captains of corruption in India, its not for lack of argument or facts. The Haryana Lals, the Sukh Rams and their clones and counterparts in each Indian state, assembly, council or corporation have lived for so long on loot and bribes without coming to any grief that they have been ceased to be met for the muses of our town wits and village marasis! For, as I have observed earlier, these Teflon pots and pans see to it that no dirt sticks when the charges become thick and open. So, in sheer helplessness even the present writer is compelled to ponder the universal plague in more agonising terms and in wider contexts. And as ever, I turn, among other things, to the literary sources for the deeper insights, but cold consolations.
In a large way, the cynics are almost always right in this tortured, twisted dialectic of corruption. The phenomenon is as old as whoredom, and as venal. For when you begin to examine it in its various forms and manifestations, you are not surprised to see the virus infecting almost any human institution you can imagine from marriage, family and clan to organised church, state and government. For basically, both sex and power as Freud and Adler showed in their own respective ways, are so structured in the human anatomy and in the bodypolitic of a nation as to create conditions hospitable to corruption of the heart and the spirit. And thats why a moral view of life becomes an inescapable imperative to keep things from falling apart, even if the voices of wisdom seem to go unheard, unheeded. For the precarious balance in which the shy, low-key good has to hold its own against the ugly and boisterous evil in a most treacherous and ambiguous territory is, in the end, the only thing we can hope for. Thus the philosophic variations on the theme of corruption often get mixed up with the theology of sin. But its at the political level and I use the concept of politics as an all-embracing phenomenon, from votes and parliaments to cheese and chickens that the war against corruption has always to be fought. As the situation obtains today, theres a distinct possibility of the death of politics as a judicious, corporate human activity, and as a consequence, the withering away of the state, though not in the Marxian sense. Yes, the trappings of all kinds would remain, but the soul of things would be gone.
When, therefore, public life is contaminated and outraged, the entry of politic worms in the bodypolitic, to use Shakespeares phrase in Hamlet, becomes a question of pathology. Its thus that the sickness of society starts, and its thus that the structures of a civic society are destroyed. The cancer of corruption, crab-like, spreads and spreads to reach down to all parts of the organism. The pervasive and constitutive imagery of disease dirt and rot, and the metaphors of poison and worms in that play become the medium of the poets imagination of anguish and indignation. In such a state Denmark in this case, the usurpers and their stools, the Poloniuses of pelf and self, the agents of traffic and treachery, and the panders of power take over the proceedings, and start eating up the state from within. You may find these eternal species of court carriers and flunkeys in almost each parlour of power, and in each outhouse. The whole pecking order of satraps and parasites or stooges seems to have become a settled phenomenon.
The oriental and colonial countries, in particular, are tragically vulnerable in this regard. Even when the white imperialists are gone, their native avataras, in more obscene and obtrusive forms, continue to raise the levels of corruption.
Let me, in the end, add an insightful quotation from a Nigerian poet, Tanuue Ojaide, who represents the spirit of anguish and awakening in a continent thats unable, by and large, to shed its darkness:
Pity the fate of flash millionaires!
If they are not hurled into jail, they live
In the prison-houses of their crimes and wives,
And when they die, of course, only their kind
DURING my visits to Canada, I meet a large number of Muslims, who have been my clients or otherwise have moved to Canada and settled there from Pakistan and other countries of the world. They are really hospitable, warm and friendly people. We have many things of common interest like food, culture language and to some extent even our clothes. In Ahmedabad, I met a pretty Muslim lady aspiring to go to Canada with her husband. During our conversation, I learnt that she was from Lahore, now married and settled in India. I enquired from her as to how marriages are solemnised in Pakistan, especially in Punjabi Muslim families. She told me that the same pomp and the show, the same rituals of Mehndi and ladies sangeet etc that are followed in northern India are prevalent there.
She confided in me that she had accidentally met her husband at the Wagah border, Amritsar, where she came from Lahore and her husband from Ahmedabad to see the flag hoisting ceremony of India and Pakistan.
Their eyes met without caring for the border barrier. They exchanged telephone numbers across the wire fence. After a while they decided to get married. They are now happily married, have a beautiful daughter and are on their way to Canada. Strange are the ways of God in creating human bonds and relationships.
During my recent visit to Canada, I advertised for soliciting franchisee partners from Pakistan for my business. Among many others, one Col Aziz Ahmed of Pakistan (not his real name) came to meet me with his wife. He showed a lot of interest to take on Canadian immigration business on our behalf from Pakistan. Having the same defence background I became inquisitive to know more about him as to which arm of the Pakistan army he belonged and the theatre of operations he participated during war with India. He was frank in the discussions and said that in the 1971 war he was in the Chhamb-Jaurian sector (J&K) commanding a squadron of a tank regiment.
This made me more curious, since I myself took part in that war. I told him that your army came charging at us like a bull in that sector. What was your mission? He admitted proudly being in the leading formation of the December 3 attack on us that almost pierced through our forward defences. He said that it was your Sikh battalions which caused havoc with our leading offensive brigade and we were stalled. Having repulsed our three furious attacks, your battalion was still holding the defences and I heard your Sikh boys hurling popular Punjabi abuses at us like Putro aao tuhanoo sabak sakhaye tusi sade country wal buri najar nal je vekheya aakhan bhan diyange, tuhadi maa di te behan di.... My tank regiment and the leading infantry battalions were shocked to learn that these warriors having lost a large number of their troops in our first attack on them are so brave and still resilient.
He openly admired the courage, devotion and unflinching loyalty of the Sikh boys to their nation.
He was not yet prepared
for the last blow from my side when I told him that I was
part of that Sikh battalion on the attack night and bore
the brunt of his tank shells and the onslaught of their
infantry. On hearing this he was really moved and wonder
struck and without controlling his emotions he got up,
saluted and embraced me. Strange are the ways of
God, Sir, how and where we meet? In the 1971 war we were
enemies of each other and blood thirsty and here we meet
to become good friends and to be business partner of a
common venture. Thereafter, we two uniformed
officers of two different nations parted with a good
bomb is ticking
IT is three decades since we passed the peak world population growth rate of 2.04 per cent. Annual additions too are now a decade past their peak of 86 million a year. They are currently running at 78 million a year and are heading downwards.
A peak in total numbers, however, still lies at least four or five decades ahead. On the UN Population Divisions1998 projections, the total is likely to reach 8.9 billion in 2050. The long-range medium projection, which has not been updated since 1996, expects world population to level out at just under 11 billion in 2200 AD.
However, this is based on assumptions that are increasingly questionable. More and more countries are reaching levels of female fertility that are not enough for replacement below 2.1 children over the lifetime of each woman. At the latest count there are 61 countries in this category. Of these 23 had very low fertility, below 1.5.
This situation is unprecedented in times of global peace and economic growth. The UN medium projection assumes that where fertility is very low it will rise again to 1.7-1.9 children per woman. In all countries where fertility is currently above replacement level of 2.1, it assumes that it will not fall below that level.
Yet fertility has fallen below replacement level in so many countries, with such different cultures and different stages of economic growth , that it is increasingly looking as if low fertility may be here to stay.
If this became the case, then world population may peak at somewhere between eight and nine billion. Thereafter, it may well begin to decline. The 1996 long-range low projection has world population falling to 5.6 billions in 2100 A.D.
None of this means that reproductive rights should have lower priority in future. Their contribution to the health and welfare of women and children is clear. Many poor countries in Africa and South Asia face huge population increases which will be hard to accommodate without major problems of land and water scarcity. In these areas reproductive rights and womens education must receive a very high priority.
Increasingly our concern must focus on consumption, and how we can cope with the effects of its inexorable increase.
Over the past 25 years, world population increased by 53 per cent but world consumption per person (measured by income) by only 39 per cent. Assume that consumption continues to grow at 1.4 per cent the average between 1965 and 1997. Then over the next 50 years world consumption per person will rise by 100 per cent, while population will rise by only half that amount. As time goes on the preponderance of consumption will increase more and more.
There is a crucial difference between population and consumption aspirations. If fully assured of childrens survival, most people have quite modest desires for family size. But their desire to consume knows no upper bounds. As wealth increases, people double up their possessions: two or three cars, two bathrooms, two homes with all contents, two or three holidays a year.
Appliances improve every year and old ones need replacing. New needs are created that never existed before. Globalisation is making products cheaper than ever: TVs are no longer uncommon even in African shanty towns.
The number of households is increasing as people live longer and family breakdown becomes more common. Smaller households consume considerably more per person than large ones.
Moreover, consumption is politically very difficult to restrain. No one can get elected promising people they can earn and spend less, or re-elected if they fulfil their promises.
In view of this much of the burden of reducing our environmental impact will rest on technology. Technology will have to deliver major shifts in improving resource productivity, and in reducing the amount of waste we create. All our institutions and forms of management which affect technology will need to be geared to this end.
In some areas the record has been good and looks likely to remain so. Productivity has kept up with demand in the case of resources that are traded on markets, and that are under the direct control of people or companies affected by shortages or prices.
Global food production has kept pace with demand: although land and cereal production per person has declined, average intakes of calories and protein have continued to improve and are at record levels. Malnutrition persists, but this is due to poverty and landlessness, not to the inability of the world to produce enough food.
We have not encountered any limiting shortage of any key mineral resources or of energy. Nor are we likely to, because we continually economise and find substitutes. There has been a gradual reduction in the material used for each unit of production.
The prospects are much worse for resources that are not traded on markets or subject to sustainable management, as yet. These include groundwater, state forests, ocean fish, biodiversity in general. They include communal waste sinks like rivers, lakes and oceans, and the global atmosphere. In all of these areas it looks likely that things will get quite a lot worse before they get better.
These kinds of resources and sinks are not under the direct control of people affected by shortage or damage. People wishing to change the way a common resource or sink is used or managed have to pass through the legal or political system. They must organise, take out lawsuits against polluters, pressurise legislators and so on.
Political responses are typically slow. Usually the majority of voters have to be convinced of the need for action before politicians will risk taking action. Even then powerful and rich vested interests will lobby hard for the status quo, and will often succeed in frustrating changes that are desired by a global majority. Americas coal, oil and car lobbies have stood in the way of any significant US commitment to reduce carbon dioxide output, and the US is the worlds largest emitter of carbon dioxide.
Usually there has to be very widespread and very visible environmental damage before action is taken. The thinning of the ozone layer fitted that category well and the response was swift. North Atlantic fishing reached that point in the 1990s, yet politicians shied away from taking adequate action until the last moment: fishing stocks plummeted and there was massive job loss.
Global warming is still
a long way from the damage being widespread enough, and
attributable clearly enough to human activities, for
politicians to be ready to speed up the move into
renewable energy. (TWNF)
demand greater say
ANTON PARKANSKY, the newly appointed director of the Moskhimfarm pharmaceuticals factory in Moscow, brought an armed escort when he arrived to start work early one February morning. The workers, who had occupied the state-owned plant and had already barred him from entering twice, were ready once again.
He faced 100 pickets. A scuffle broke out and a woman workers arm was broken. Parkansky (31), a manager employed by a private medicines company, backed off and said he would not return to the factory.
The workers were against his appointment explained Yelena Vorobyova, of the plants trade union committee. The factory was occupied for two weeks.
Parkanskys company, Vremya, had helped to privatise and cut the workforce of two other pharmaceuticals factories. The Moskhimfarm workers feared that they would be next. Now, they will be keeping a sharp eye on Mikhail Grigoriev, appointed by the Economy Ministry to replace Parkansky.
Their case is symptomatic of a trend, Russian workers are campaigning not only against long delays in paying wages, but also for a greater say in how their workplaces are run.
Plans to privatise factories, and the arrival of owners that workers do not trust, have sparked a series of conflicts. At the Chernigovsky open-cast mine in Kemerovo, Siberia, workers locked out the new owners, declared a peoples enterprise and clashed with riot police. A similar showdown occurred at the Lomonosov porcelain factory in St Petersburg.
The most significant battle was prompted by the privatisation in 1997 of the Vyborg cellulose plant between St Petersburg and the Finnish border on which the village of Sovetsky depends for its livelihood.
The factory was sold to a vodka entrepreneur, Aleksandr Sabadash, for an estimated half of one per cent of its real worth a move not uncommon in post-Soviet Russia, where many state assets have been grossly undervalued for sale.
At first the workers did not react, even when wages went unpaid. But when Sabadash tried to replace local security guards with his own special force, triggering a rumour that he was about to lay off two-thirds of the 2,000 employees, they occupied the factory, declared in common property and elected their own director.
The factory soon found customers for its products, and for 18 months worked as a cooperative. Everyone received a monthly wage of 1,500 roubles high by Russian standards. A programme of social support for the village was organised: free milk and electricity, free hairdressing and holidays for children, and financial help for pensioners.
Then, last October, the factory was raided by armed police and private security guards, trying to regain control of it for Sabadash. Two workers were wounded in a shoot-out. But the co-operative held out.
Legal challenges and negotiations followed. In January, a Sabadash company sold the factory to a British firm, Alcem. One of the cooperative leaders, Vitali Kiriakov, signed a deal with Alcem surrendering control in exchange for guarantees of pay rises, social benefits for the village and no redundancies.
Aleksandr Buzgalin, a Moscow economics professor who has collaborated with the labour movement since the late eighties, said the Vyborg workers had taken matters into their own hands. They tried to maintain and expand production, find buyers for their products and pay suppliers on time, he said.
They felt that they were not lumpen hirelings, but people who work consciously, live like human beings, are paid regularly and know that the needs of their village will be cared for people who participate in managing their enterprise. Some had opposed the final sale to Alcem, despite the favourable terms.
In general, Buzgalin pointed out: There are many problems with ownership disputes. Sometimes two groups of businessmen, or gangsters, are trying to gain control of a workplace and the workers find themselves being manipulated.
Industrial stands such as those at Moskhimfarm and Vyborg could help foster a general revival of organised labour, say union activists. Workers are again finding their voice stifled amid the economic and social crises of the past few years in a new Russian era marked by the resignation of President Boris Yeltsin and the choice of a successor in an election on March 26.
An independent workers movement began to stir in 1989-91 as the legal right to strike and organise was reestablished. But, by the mid-nineties, it had been suppressed by the shock of hyperinflation and industrial collapse on one side, and inexperience and corruption in its own organisations on the other.
Now, a new generation of workers in pressing for a better deal often coming up against a new, brash breed of employer.
Kirill Buketov, who runs the Moscow office of the international food workers federation, IUF, said: The first wave of privatisation in the early nineties was the theft of state property by those who already controlled it.
But now, besides the multi-millionaire oligarchs who built their financial empires at that time, there are smaller financial groups with large sums to spend on buying businesses. Sabadash, who wanted to rise from the vodka business to something more solid, is typical.
Bosses like this now face confident young workers especially in thriving sectors of the economy such as the restaurant trade.
At a McDonalds food plant, where products are prepared for the companys Russian restaurants, attempts by management to discourage union membership have been defied with a stubbornness that Buketov has found staggering.
He said: The union members there are mostly in their early or mid-twenties. They had no previous trade union experience. They joined the union and started making demands, which shook up the union as well as McDonalds.
Buketov, who in 1990 helped to found one of Russias first workers support groups, the Kas-kor Information Centre, said: When we started, under (former Soviet President Mikhail) Gorbachev, no one knew what a proper trade union was or how to bargain for a collective agreement. And there was no one to tell us.
IN spite of the able and exhaustive speech made by the mover we are quoting the words of the Civil and Military Gazette reporter and in spite of the strong support that was given to it by some other members, the amendment suggesting the appointment of a committee of experts to re-examine both the Mandi and Madhopur schemes was rejected by the Punjab Council without a division on Friday last.
The rejection has been
already foretold in a local journal and was, indeed, a
foregone conclusion considering that the Government had
finally made up its mind; and in the Punjab Council the
Government has seldom any difficulty in having its way
when its own mind is made up except in those rare cases
in which its policy interferes with the interests of the
Muslims or the rural bloc.
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