The Social Movements Calendar (SMC) is back !
The 2012 edition of the SMC is dedicated to the “saga of labour struggles from colonisation to globalisation”, and is yet another effort to document peoples’ struggles in the last few decades in the country and provide a one stop source for references on social movements on this theme. Originally conceptualised by the late Smitu Kothari and published by Intercultural Resources India, the 2012 SMC Calendar is the fourth edition.
According to the introduction given in the SMC 2012:
India has one of the largest number of working people in the world. In the year 2010, India recorded a 478 million workforce that contributed to its economic growth. The labour force in India is a curious mix of a large number of illiterate workers unfamiliar with machinery and tools, and a sizable pool of experts in the fields of medicine, science, technology and computers.
About 60% of this labour force works in the agricultural sector, 28% in the services sector and 12% in the industrial sector. The corresponding contribution to India’s GDP does not reflect this: the agricultural sector only contributes 21%. The labour force participation rate in India has been falling steadily since the 1980s and in 2009 this was just 58%. Correspondingly, the unemployment rate in India has been steadily inching northwards, with a little over 12% unemployment in 2010, an increase of 4% since 2008.
It is against the backdrop of these realities that the SMC 2012 takes a look at various labour struggles from across the country and across different groups. So while we have the struggles of mill workers, construction workers, domestic workers, and tea and beedi workers represented here, we also have the larger issue of exploitation in the name of development highlighted through agitations of indigenous people against displacement and misplaced development.
Accompanying the SMC 2012 is a resource book which brings together “references of articles, books and other literature. It also provides references of films and websites on a variety of subjects within the realm of social movements and struggles in India”.
Like the SMC 2011 (which I have written about here), the SMC 2012 goes beyond the simple function of a calendar giving the dates and days of the week for each month of a particular year. Each calendar month in the SMC 2012 has two pages dedicated to it. While one page has a photograph of a peoples’ struggle from India, the other page has the days and dates — with each date square marked with a social movement or a labour agitation or a struggle that took place on that particular day. It is quite sobering to see nearly all squares filled up with information on some labour agitation or the other.
And that is where the SMC is different from other calendars. It is a calendar that provokes, that makes one think about skewed development in our country, a development that has happened and continues to happen for a chosen few at the cost of many others. It is a calendar that will not brighten up your room or invoke “oohs” and “aahs” from visitors; instead, it is a calendar that will bring forth “ohs” and maybe long silences, and maybe disbelief.
The SMC is not a calendar for the senses. Quite simply put, it is a calendar for the conscience.
PS: If you wish to buy a copy of the SMC 2012 (and I sincerely hope that you will), you can get details here.