Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Rights of Pradhans

16th April 2008

For the past few days, Dwiji, Richa and Mukesh had been busy at work on the next edition of 'Humara Safar', the Sangtin newsletter. Earlier editions had been put together on Pagemaker by DTP folks – this had always proven to be a major headache given the lack of resources in Sitapur. Dwiji suggested designing the newsletter in OpenOffice and exporting it to PDF format. Since neither Richa nor Mukesh are tech-savvy, they suggested that Dwiji do this and set up a template for future editions.

On another front, the Pradhan rally that was supposed to have happened on the 9th was rescheduled for the 16th – apparently, they needed time to organize. Behind the scenes, there were efforts to set up a dialogue with the Pradhans. Labourers getting an unemployment allowance would not hurt the Pradhans in any way, but there are enough players behind the scenes trying to convince them otherwise. At any rate, their 1-day rally did go ahead as planned and Dwiji and I went to listen in for a while.

From the speeches of various Pradhans, it was clear that they were unclear about the objectives of the rally! Some speakers talked about the need for a salary for Pradhans, since they had so many duties which were only increased with NREGA – fair enough. Others talked about how certain labourers did not do any work and yet demanded wages because of their collective strength. The Pradhans who talked about this were from areas that SKMS does not work in, so apparently they were projecting some other angst here! There was some talk about how the committee was unconstitutional and should be dissolved, and in the very next breath the speaker was asking for representation for Pradhans on this committee! Well, the Pradhan assocation has been set up just recently – they still need to get their act together...

However, there is also talk that the BDOs and Pradhans plan to go to court on this issue, so maybe they will create more hurdles and roadblocks in the future...

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