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  India's stand on labour at WTO Status of women in India Green Revolution

India's stand on labour at WTO

  From Scott Weber
I must express, with utter sincerity and goodwill, my disappointment that the India delegation to the World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle, Washington, U. S. A., remains fixed in opposition to any meaningful discussion of issues pertaining to labor conditions in member nation-states.
I reside in the Pacific NorthWest of the United States and can affirm that many of the protestors that have taken to the streets of Seattle, and many more who haven't, are outraged by India's refusal to address basic human rights issues under the auspices of world trade talks.
Please, for those of you who care, do not underestimate the intensity of feeling, substance of thought, or realm of influence, among those of us who look to the Twenty First Century with the hope and expectation that citizens of Earth will be accorded elementary rights. Let the political and non-governmental organizations of India be known as a progressive factor in this movement and not an obstacle!

  Response from Saby Ganguly
Scott, thank you for your e-mail expressing concern for what you perceive as India's opposition to improvement of labour conditions.
Your perception is incorrect. India is only opposed to any kind of linkage between trade and labour considerations.
The United States and other Western countries (plus a couple of their political dependents in the eastern hemisphere) are using the labour issue as a Trojan Horse. We do not think that countries which have, in the recent past, shamelessly used colonial labour, black labour, prison labour and slave labour have any moral right to take issue with a country that has been a thorough democracy with universal franchise right from its first day as an independent nation. Universal franchise (an essential ingredient of respect for the human being) is older in India than in the United States.
We also do not think that countries which carried out brazen human rights violation in Vietnam under the guise of fighting a school of thought opposed to their own -- or countries which cheered such violation of human rights -- have any moral right to pontificate to India. We also do not feel that any country in the world which has something like the Central Intelligence Agency has any right to tell India about human rights.
I therefore think your concern for human and labour rights in India is grossly misplaced. You must read more, discuss more and understand more than what a particular lobby wants you to believe. This is what human intelligence is all about.
We remain concerned about labour conditions which are admittedly pathetic in India, but we take it as a temporary function of the general state of the economy and history of India. We do not accept the WTO as a forum to address labour issues. The International Labour Organisation is the right forum for labour issues, not the WTO.

  From Scott Weber
Saby, thank you for your prompt and well-reasoned response. I agree with your characterisation of the United States' (and "other Western countries") recent and, I would add, continuing record of exploitation and oppression. In review of my previous comments, I find that I express myself in a somewhat patronizing and self-righteous tone. For this, I apologize.
I have to wonder, given my nation's behavior in the past, at what point in time a governing administration or body would be seen as having the "moral authority" to champion progressive policies in world trade talks? I do firmly believe that international trade policies should allow for fair, humane, and practical standards of treatment. These are standards that should apply to and govern the behavior of U.S.-based corporations and public entities no less than that of other nations. Your assertion that this is a "Trojan Horse" is interesting and, hopefully, will be discussed by like-minded delegates in a public forum.
I am also interested in finding out why you do not agree that the WTO is an appropriate forum for such discussions, in addition to ILO deliberations.
Finally, I share with you the hope that labour conditions in India improve dramatically. . . hopefully with assistance from – and not just at the insistence of – its trading partners. And, assuredly, I will make an effort to further educate myself and actively challenge the destructive and exploitative policies and practices of the US government, its agents, and corporate sponsors.

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Status of women in India

  From Himendra Thakur, Chairperson, Board of Directors, International Society Against Dowry and Bride-Burning in India, Inc. (ISADABBI)
I read the following in your site:
"Contrary to sensational reports sometimes appearing in the news-hungry media in both India and other countries, female infanticide, bride burning (for reasons of dowry) and 'sati' (widow burning) are NOT normal in India. Each of these acts is a criminal act and an extremely rare occurrence".
You have described these as "an extremely rare occurrence".
In an answer to a question in the Parliament of India on August 3, 1995, Government of India published statistics which reported about 6,000 dowry death in India every year. Do you call it an extremely rare occurrence ?
In the "First International Coinference on Dowry and Bride-Burning in India" held at Harvard University in 1995, knowledgeable professionals like Attorney Rani Jethmalani and Attorney Subhadra Chaturvedi, both of them practice law at the Supreme Court of India, made statements that the government statistics were a result of gross under-reporting. According to them, the actual "unofficial" number of dowry death in India would be between 12,000 to 13,000 every year. In 1997, I interviewed a magistrate in New Delhi who was willing to talk. This official not only confirmed the "unofficial" number of dowry death, but also pointed out that an equal number of brides were beaten so mercilessly that they became invalid for the rest of their lives. That makes an estimated total of 25,000 brides "killed or maimed" every year in India over dowry disputes.
These are NOT "the news-hungry media in both India and other countries". The blazing wildfire of bride-burning was originally admitted by the Government of India in an answer to a question in the Parliament of India. The people I am quoting above are NOT newspaper reporters whom you are accusing of creating "sensational reports". These are attorneys and administrative officers. As for myself, I am an engineer from IIT Kharagpur, and I am NOT a subscriber to any "news-hungry media".
I want to know from you on what grounds you are categorizing the tragedy of dowry and bride-burning in India as "an extremely rare occurrence". I hope you will reply to me as soon as possible.
Thank you.


IndiaOneStop.Com's Saby Ganguly replies:
Dear Mr. Himendra Thakur,
Thank you for your e-mail dated July 24.
The magistrate you spoke to appears to have referred to cases involving family violence brought up in the courts. Violence within the family is a universal reality, though there may be variations in degree. It happens even within the educated sections of society, and not only within India. You must however not overlook the fact that most cases that come up in the 'family courts' in India are for divorce, and lawyers do trump up cases of violence on the part of the husband to bolster the wife's case and loose character on the part of the wife to bolster the husband's case. I know this because a close relative of mine had to fight his divorce case in a Bangalore court and the pivotal charge against him was that he used to beat and torture his wife, which was simply a hogwash to try sway the court in the lady's favour. Now, if you were to speak to that magistrate who ruled the said case, that case too would be counted as an evidence against the burning, beating and maiming of women in India.
You should know that there more women professionals in India than in any other country in the world. This suggests to me that the condition of women in India is not among the worst in the world.
Please also note that our website is business-oriented and is aimed at attracting foreign business into India. We don't claim to be championing any cause other than India's business interests which can bring more jobs into India and thus economically uplift people including women. Given that most women's economic dependence on men is one reason for their problems, I am sure we have your support in our endeavour.
I do acknowledge that women, on the average, occupy an inferior status in society all over the world. This is why we appreciate the existence and activities of groups such as yours. However, since yours is a single-cause group, we don't expect you to give any quarter to any observation or thought that contradicts your single cause.
Finally, in the interests of editorial openness, I am willing to display your letter on our website as a rejoinder to our article. In which case, we will also publish my reply, and keep things as they are there.


Himendra Thakur replies:
Dear Mr. Ganguly,
I am sorry to hear about your relative's bitter divorce where false charges were made against him. In your letter you said that "You must however not overlook the fact that most cases ... lawyers do trump up cases of violence on the part of the husband to bolster the wife's case and loose character on the part of the wife to bolster the husband's case. I know this because a close relative of mine had to fight his divorce case in a Bangalore court and the pivotal charge against him was that he used to beat and torture his wife, which was simply a hogwash to try sway the court in the lady's favour. Now, if you were to speak to that magistrate who ruled the said case, that case too would be counted as an evidence against the burning, beating and maiming of women in India."
I fully understand the person concerned has gone through. Although the "International Society Against Dowry and Bride-Burning in India, Inc." (ISADABBI) is fighting against Dowry&Bride-Burning, ISADABBI is STRONGLY opposed to misuse of any anti-dowry law to victimize innocent husbands and innocent members of the bride's marital home. In fact, at the "Fourth International Conference on Dowry and Bride-Burning" held at Harvard University on December 5, 1998, Attorney Manjari Chowdhary from New Delhi, India, who is herself a "surviving" victim of dowry, presented a paper on the subject of misuse of the anti-dowry laws to victimize innocent husbands and innocent members of the bride's marital home. A copy of this article, and another article by Dr. Werner F. Menski on excessive provisions of anti-dowry laws in India, are published in the "Souvenir" of this conference.
All these unnecessary pain and suffering have originated from the practice of dowry. In order to protect the dowry victims, India's late Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru promulgated "Dowry Prohibition Act" (DPA)in 1961. In spite of the DPA, Dowry&Bride-Burning continued and increased, and the law was strengthened further and further. Now the law is misused by unscrupulous people to victimize innocent husbands.
Right in our "First Conference" in 1995, it was seen that Dowry&Bride-Burning was a deep-rooted social evil, and law alone cannot stop it. A "Six Point Program" was developed to eradicate Dowry&Bride-Burning which I have appended after this letter (not included here but available to those interested; e-mail us if interested).
You have, however, not answered my fundamental question whether 6,000 dowry-death (reported by the Home Ministry to a question in the Parliament of India on August 3, 1995) can be treated as "an extremely rare occurrence".
I do understand that yours is a website "business-oriented and is aimed at attracting foreign business into India". You definitely have my support in your endeavour. Just to build a strong foundation of your endeavour, I feel that the business community of India should do their share of uplifting the conditions in India. Foreign investors know the real condition of India which frightens them to invest in India. This fear cannot be removed just by highlighting some of our good points which can be seen as marginal. On the contrary, if the Indian business community promotes fundamental programs to ameliorate the condition in India, they will gain massive credibility which will create confidence to attract foreign investors.
I invite the Indian Business community to form Foundations like "Ford Foundation" "Rockefeller Foundation" and raise funds to implement social programs in India.
Dowry&Bride-Burning appears to be, but is not, a "single-cause". In fact, it is the tip of the pyramid of massive degeneration of India that piled through the centuries of foreign domination. It is connected to corruption, inordinate greed and avarice, lack of character, and finally, absence of human compassion. If you examine the "Six Point Program" below, you may notice that Dowry&Bride-Burning cannot be eradicated unless there is a major change in the society.
I once again request you to move the business community to join us in this mammoth task.

  IndiaOneStop.Com replies:
Dear Mr. Thakur,
I read with interest your e-mail and its attachment. It is beyond the scope of our services to persuade business people to emulate a Rockefeller or a Ford Foundation. There are plenty of people and groups within India who are trying to do that and they are better equipped for
such purposes. We will stick to what we are good at. Most business houses, nevertheless, do have a charity wing through which they render social services.
I don't think foreign business avoids India with a barge pole. India is one of the world's major destinations for FDI. From nothing in 1991, we have some US$30 billion in our foreign exchange reserves. China's human rights record is more controversial than India's, yet it is the world's number one favourite of foreign investors. While I understand your enthusiasm over your cause, please don't succumb to the temptation of distorting facts to carry the day.
Incidentally, 6,000 – that would include trumped-up cases which you agree is a reality – in many millions is a miniscule percentage and is arguably in harmony with what we have said in our website. A far more pressing need is to get dollars into India.

  Himendra Thakur replies:
Dear Mr. Ganguly,
You are accusing me for "distorting facts" and "put off people with exaggerations".
I have not distorted or exaggerated any fact. Each one of my numbers are backed up with the sources.
Your these accusations are baseless. Unless you apologize, I am going to take a strong opinion against you. I do not want to do that. I hope you will apologize for making these incorrect accusations.

  IndiaOneStop.Com replies
Dear Mr. Thakur,
I do not agree with your contention that I have levelled false accusations against you. I only requested you not to succumb to the temptation of distorting or exaggerating facts. However, I apologise for inadvertently offending you.


From - Name Undisclosed

Dear Sir,


Would it not be a much better world if support groups were not politically motivated and worked towards undoing wrongs without any gender bias.


My ex-wife, a US Citizen (who fraudulently abducted my US born, American citizen daughters from the USA and has forcibly retained them in India) claims that the legal system is biased against women in the USA, therefore she should be allowed to stay on in India. At the time I filed for divorce in the Superior Court of New Jersey (because of her abusive behaviour and pathological lying and having discovered that she had been involved in atleast 6 failed relationships, had cheated in her previous marriage, had cheated on me and even on her very first boyfriend at age 16 and her mentors/helpers had been involved in numerous felonies over nearly 2 decades but had managed to get away because of their connections in India), my ex-wife had told me that as a woman, she would get away with any false accusation against me as she knew that the legal system was more sympathetic towards the woman. She was right because for nearly 3 years, she managed to get away with just about every false accusation and the legal system was not even prepared to listen to me as her different lawyers kept going to different judges to get the decisions they wanted. Ultimately, I was awarded sole custody of my daughters by the Superior Court of New Jersey based on the recommendations of the Court Appointed Custody Evaluator via the Guardian ad Litem. The Court Appointed Psychologist (selected by my ex-wife's 3rd lawyer) concluded after extensive testing on the two of us that my ex-wife has a Narcissistic personality Disorder. Even though my ex-wife had the services of 7 successive divorce lawyers and the support groups to help her, the Superior Court of New Jersey concurred with the recommendations of the Guardian ad Litem on becoming aware of the various frauds perpetuated by my ex-wife during the course of the divorce (her downfall started during the divorce trial when she was caught stealing my lawyers legal folder by the court security camera). 


My ex-wife falsely claimed in October 2001 that her father was dying after a serious stroke (and submitted a false medical certificate that had been issued by a colleague of her physician father) in New Delhi and it was his dying wish to be allowed to see his grandchildren, and she would positively return on 11.3.01. On compassionate grounds, she was allowed the 2 week trip. Since then she has refused to return to the USA because she knows that she is in deep trouble and faces sanctions for theft, perjury, fabrications, interference with my well-paid job in New York, deceit and manipulation of the legal system during the 3year long divorce. In addition, she did not even pay her 7th lawyer (even though she transferred out nearly 150,000.00 US$ and after reaching India defrauded 7 US credit card companies of nearly $70,000.00).


On reaching India in October 2001 (supposedly to visit her dying father), my ex-wife (though she was a US Citizen, not domiciled in India and even though I had not been to India since 1998) had filed several false cases in the Indian Courts in an attempt to stop me from visiting India and to negate the US Court’s orders (and files yet more with other judges when one case is dismissed). I have challenged the validity of such cases filed before separate judges but it seems that there will be no action from the Indian Courts as my ex-wife’s lawyer has postponed nearly 8 court appearances by submitting false medical certificates and she will be allowed to drag out all the false cases in India. After some years she will claim that the children are well adjusted with their mother, do not remember their father and therefore be allowed to remain in India. I am sure you agree that certainly would not be in the best interest of the children.


In December 2001, a New Jersey Magistrate issued an arrest warrant after my ex-wife refused to return my daughters to the USA. In February 2002, the Superior Court issued another arrest warrant and after that was ignored a criminal warrant was issued in early 2003 and this was followed by the FBI issuing a UFAP (Unlawful Flight to Avoid Prosecution). Copies of the arrest warrant (Criminal and UFAP) have been forwarded sent to the FBI officers stationed at the US Consulate in New Delhi. My ex-wife has filed various cases before separate judges in New Delhi in an attempt to negate the US Court’s orders (and files yet more with different judges when one case is dismissed).


Now again, my ex-wife has sought the help of the support groups in India and has filed a false dowry case (even after the US divorce was over) and wants the Indian Court to give her my mother's house in India, my late father's laboratory, $30,000 as a lump sum and $10,000 per month as support. In her false complaint (since the USA, she made no such complaint during the 3years of the divorce litigation, she has now claimed in her false case in India, that at the time when I was earning nearly $425,000 per year, her parents gave me dowry of $10,000 over the 4 years of the marriage. Millions get married in India every year. The politicians and the businessmen have very lavish weddings. A newspaper article states that the very rich and the very poor do not generally file the false dowry accusations and it is mostly a minority of abusive women from some greedy middle class families (about 5 in a million, who probably never gave any dowry but had no qualms about accepting it for their sons) who file the false accusations with the help of a flawed law, a crooked lawyer and a corrupt policeman. 


In the first half of 2002, the White House asked the US Departments of State and Justice to help me. The State Department approached the Indian Government several times and did not get a response. The Indian Government (not being a signatory to the Hague Convention Treaty on International Child Abduction) unofficially claims that Parental Child Abduction of US Citizen children by a non-custodial US Citizen Parent from the USA to India is not a crime but any attempts to retrieve the children from India by the custodial US Citizen Parent would be classed a crime. In fact, my ex-wife’s connections in the Indian Government even went to the extent of issuing Persons of Indian Origin (Resident Alien) Cards to my daughters (against my written request that they not extend any immigration privileges to my daughters).


Let me see if there is any support group that is capable of reuniting a father with his abducted children.

  From Sue Mitra
Dear Mr. Thakur,
I have just been reading, with great interest,  the online debate  and am extremely interested to read the Six point program that has been developed with regards to the eradication of dowry deaths.
I am studying international human rights law and am doing a long research paper into the dowry killings in India. The focus of my study is the gap between the law and social practice/customs/culture.
I would appreciate any information or links that you are able to provide. I am also interested in reading papers that have resulted from the conferences held at Harvard University. Can you advise on where they are available?
Thanks and with kind regards


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Green Revolution

  From Laura Leypoldt
Mr. Ganguly:  You claim in your report on the Green Revolution that it "changed India from a starving nation to one of the world's leading agricultural nation." Are you aware that there are over 200 million hungry people in India today. The FAO estimate that 61% of children under the age of five are malnourished in India, ranking it second highest in the world! In 1995,India exported $625 million worth of wheat and flour and $1.3 billion worth of rice while millions of it's poor went with out. (FAOSTAT Database).
Your claim is a gross lie and ignores the horrific living conditions of the majority of Indians. I would hardly say that India has been a nation transformed out of poverty or starvation!
To find out more about hunger in India and throughout the world, I would suggest reading "World Hunger: Twelve Myths", by Frances Moore Lappe.

  Saby Ganguly replies:
The limited results of the green revolution have been well covered in my write-up. My article is both a statement of fact (i.e. the green revolution was most successful in India compared to other countries which had embarked on the same drive) as well as a critique (i.e. its effects remains questionable). I wish you had read the full article before shooting off your e-mail, which I welcome, anyway.

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