Shramshakti (1988): Report of the National Commission on self employed women and women in the informal sector||
Ms Jaya Arunachalam,
Working Women's Forum (India) 15. 06. 88
With reference to my signing the final report of the Self Employed Women Commission, I would like to draw the attention on the following facts before I sign the report.
1. At the outset, the report has not been written with professional competence condensing all the details collected in the form of a regular report. One can call this effort only a collection of materials and not an official report.
2. The name of the Commission is 'National Commission on Self Employed Women', but most of the collected information deals with working conditions on women workers in the unprotected labour sector. Therefore calling it a 'National Commission on Self-Employed', does give only a segment approach and not a sectoral approach to a report that would cover the entire informal sector. Therefore a change of name at least to the final report is an indispensable factor since otherwise it would be misleading to call this report as a report on the Self Employed Women.
3. Most of the details found in this are already covered in the National Perspective Plan for Women, which is now being processed in the Ministry of Women and Children. Therefore, it is a repetition of what is being done and one wonders whether such a replication like this is necessary at all on such a huge cost.
4. Any Commission for that matter appointed by the Government goes into details of any sector as a fact-finding team, trying to study the ways and means to improve the living/working conditions of the women workers. On the contrary, there are very little suggestions, but most of it is presumably materials collected against the Government's working into those areas. One should know all such inequalities do remain and the government having known such things has appointed this commission to suggest to improve situation after the collection of facts. In this connection the Member Secretary should have put in more work being a government representative.
5. It has not been placed before the various expert groups though two or three Commission members met one or two parliamentarians, one or two Secretaries of the Govt. and one or two Ministers. It has not gone before many other interested groups. Especially this report being on women workers of unprotected labour sector should have gone before trade unions in a big way as it is the body that is not interested in allowing the women workers to get organised.
Talking of widow pension, support for destitute women, prostitution and devadasi, drugs and alcoholism are already spoken of in the perspective plan for women. These are pertaining to women and children in general. Therefore the function of this report is to draw the attention of connected authorities on women labour.
Taking into consideration the hurried method of preparing a report like this, one wouldn't like to be a party to such hasty procedures. Therefore I venture to write this dissent note from my side.
Besides, I would appreciate if some information is given as to what has happened to the video material for which, I understand and presume, over 20 lakhs have been spent and who will be owner of the material? Is it the Government or what does the Commission proposed to do with this material?
I place my dissent note on the report of the Commission.
[Response: It was not possible for the member to attend the meetings of the National Commission or the Task Force on Legislative Protection of which she was a member, nor did she attend the meeting of the National Commission with the Members of the Drafting Committee. She was also unable to join the Commission in its meetings with the cross section of people including experts, individuals and trade unions. The member was able to attend only two meetings in the beginning and joined the Commission only on one tour and that too not complete of one State viz. Tamil nadu. For this reason, the member is unaware of the total efforts gone into the preparations of the report, of the outcome of various meetings of the Commission, and also about the title of the report and the cost of video report which is Rs. 3.66 lakhs. The video report is part of the written report being presented by the Commission to the Government. No comments were received from the member on the drafts to date except the dissent note.
About the quality of the report, it will speak for itself.
The report is a joint responsibility of all members, passing aspersions on one Member-Secretary is unfair, unethical and unacceptable. [Ela. R. Bhatt.]