Hafta 276: Bois Locker Room, Atmanirbharta, changes to labour laws, and more

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In this episode of NL Hafta, Newslaundry’s Abhinandan Sekhri, Mehraj D Lone, Raman Kirpal, and Manisha Pande are joined by Pragya Tiwari, journalist and regional director of Flint Asia. Starting off with the “Bois Locker Room” controversy, Pragya suggests that the group was “a manifestation of an endemic crisis” that we tend to ignore. “We keep forgetting how thin a line it is between inappropriate conversation and rape culture. It is on a spectrum,” she says. “The same thing about the guy’s death. That is another thing we don’t talk about as a society, as families, which is mental health. So this is just a manifestation of two conversations we radically need to have — in our schools, in our colleges, in our homes, through counselling — which is mental health and addressing rape culture, patriarchal attitudes.” Manisha says the incident demonstrates that social media allegations should be taken with a grain of salt, especially as they detract from legitimate societal challenges. Raman agrees, suggesting that the problem was further compounded by the “social media trial”.With regards to the prime minister’s recent speech, Pragya bemoans Modi’s use of “tyag” and “tapasya” to describe the distress faced by migrant workers, since it implies that their struggles were of their own volition. The panel discusses Modi’s emphasis on “atmanirbharta” and the concept of “self-reliance”. Raman points out the dire state of manufacturing in India over the past decade, and suggests that protectionism is not the answer. Mehraj is more sympathetic to the concept of Swadeshi, but laments that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s conception of Swadeshi is only centred on the capitalist class. Manisha brings up the media’s misreporting of Modi’s announcement as a new “Rs 20 lakh crore package”, when the prime minister actually included previously-announced schemes and the RBI’s liquidity measures as part of the “package”. Pragya agrees, arguing that it is “slightly inappropriate because the RBI is technically an independent institution that decides monetary policy by itself”.The panel also discusses the recent changes to labour laws in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Gujarat. Pragya describes the changes as “abject regulations” and deplores the use of the ordinances to bring about these changes. She points out that labour and capital do not have equal bargaining power and that labourers have very little legal recourse. “Instead of rationalising compliance, you have basically thrown out the baby with the bathwater,” she says. Abhinandan agrees, suggesting that the government is just “taking a flamethrower to a problem”. He adds that the power of labourers and trade unions has greatly decreased over the past three decades.To listen to this and much more, tune in!

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