This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Antara Mukherjee. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Protests By Coal Miners Expose The Cracks In The Road To ‘Ache Din’

More from Antara Mukherjee

By Antara Mukherjee:

Following the current government’s plan to privatize coal mining and private sale, miners across the country organized by five different unions had launched a five day strike. All negotiations between the bureaucrats and unions had failed. As a country whose maximum energy needs are met by coal production, companies like Coal-India own most of such mines and have a monopoly over it. Coal-India also happens to employ maximum number of miners within the country. Millions of miners have staged protests in the fear that if privatized, they will face job cuts and other cuts in benefit. In October 2014, the current government had introduced the idea of privatization of coal mines, even legitimizing it by making the Coal Mine ordinance.

Picture credits: Biswarup Ganguly for Wikimedia Commons.
Picture credits: Biswarup Ganguly for Wikimedia Commons.

Partly the reasons for this strike are job related. Millions of workers who were on the strike were worried about job security. Privatization would mean that they could be fired without any questions asked. The fact that the government will further allow private companies to mine areas with coal for themselves proves how dangerous it could be for our natural resources which the government will no longer have any control on. Once a certain industry is made private, everything that happens under it, work conditions, terms of work, job security, wages and other such factors become private as well, making any sort of questioning absolutely useless.

Also since the government talks about letting private companies use the coal they mine for their own use, no one will be able to check how much coal will be sold off and taken outside the country for personal benefit if this ordinance is brought into action. It is this answerability issue which is the seemingly most prone to be ill-managed by predatory corporate agenda. Corporate interests can’t be in tune with national ones and herein lays the main problem articulated by trade union leaders and their fellow miners. Such nefarious under the table deals of coal lost will surely also involve government officials, politicians and other unscrupulous elements. There will be no scope for any probe or of any political will to ensure true value of our natural resource lost to private players. The continuous propaganda of ‘corruption’ and ‘inefficiency’ of the public sector facilitate justification of privatization which supposedly guarantees ‘incorruptibility’ and ‘efficiency’! The fact of the matter, however, is that the private sector in our country is outside of the RTI and of any governmental auditing. Issues of incorruptibility and efficiency actually shroud ruthless destruction of labor laws, environmental laws and any moral or ethical responsibility.

That means that even for those people who don’t lose their jobs, there are no guarantees of any social security nor of any grievance redressal mechanism. Our legal system can’t intervene to check on the working conditions of the miners, their access to health and other basic amenities, minimum wage laws and maximum working hours. The families of these miners would have to fend for themselves in terms of their children’s education and their women would be vulnerable to all kinds of abuse. This induced condition of un-belonging will become more crisis ridden as when many people are left jobless, they will be forced to emigrate to towns and cities in large numbers. This will lead to break up of social groups and community living, rendering many homeless and scattered and all alone. The social impact of corporatization could be devastating.

The shrinking of the State will surely render democratic processes very weak and farcical. The implication of privatization, therefore, also extends to our political disposition. What kinds of citizens will be involved in our future electoral processes? Illiterate, unhealthy and bare survivors of hunger, abuse and social injustices! The whole idea sounds very scary and challenging. Religious fanaticism, sycophancy and slavery will spread all across the nation as large extents of its mines go under the control of the greedy corporate sector, for whom the sole value is that of wealth creation! The question, of course, is for whom? Surely the miners working under corporate will never be the beneficiaries of this wealth!

A strike anyway cannot go on forever because the miners are poor people but they are still responsible citizens. After the strike entered the second day, negotiations finally paid off with the striker’s calling off the strike. Piyush Goyal, the Coal and Power Minister, has been able to negotiate and conclude that the ordinance will be taken into further consideration and not finalized into an act as of now. Meanwhile he has promised to double energy production by facilitating using renewable methods like solar and wind energy. With the issue of low production of energy generation during the strikes and otherwise, Coal India has assured Goyal that they will meet the requirement soon enough. As of now there is still a lot of uncertainty as to what will be the final decision to the so-called ‘solution’ of privatizing; this seemingly is a very simple and effective solution in the short term but the miners think otherwise and are being represented by a handful of politicians and intellectuals. In the long term this could endanger the environment, workers and impact the whole country in relation to price rise for energy due to privatization of coal.

You must be to comment.

More from Antara Mukherjee

Similar Posts

By Aditya Jaiswal

By Sahil Razvii

By Kunal Jha

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below