A cotton farmer in Kurnool Swapna, a small farmer in Kurnool (Andhra Pradesh) grows cotton on her small piece of land. The bolls of the cotton plant are ripe and some have already burst, so Swapna is busy picking cotton. The bolls, which carry the cotton in them, do not burst open all at once so it takes several days to harvest the cotton. Once the cotton is collected, instead of selling it at Kurnool cotton market, Swapna and her husband take the harvest to the local trader. At the beginning of the cropping season, Swapna had borrowed Rs 2,500 from the trader at a very high interest rate to buy seeds, fertilisers, pesticides for cultivation. At that time, the local trader made Swapna agree to another condition. He made her promise to sell all her cotton to him. Cultivation of cotton requires high levels of inputs such as fertilisers and pesticides and the farmers have to incur heavy expenses on account of these. Most often, the small farmers need to borrow money to meet these expenses. At the trader’s yard, two of his men weigh the bags of cotton. At a price of Rs 1,500 per quintal, the cotton fetches Rs 6,000. The trader deducts Rs 3,000 for repayment of loan and interest and pays Swapna Rs 3,000. Swapna:Swapna: Rs 3,000 only! Trader:Cotton is selling cheap. There is a lot of cotton in the market. Swapna:Swapna: I have toiled so hard for four months to grow this cotton. You can see how fine and clean the cotton is this time. I had hoped to get a much better price. Did Swapna get a fair price on thecotton? Why did the trader pay Swapnaa low price? Where do you think large farmerswould sell their cotton? How is their situation different from Swapna? Trader: Amma, I am giving you a good price. Other traders are not even paying this much. You can check at the Kurnool market, if you do not believe me. Swapna:Don’t be angry. How can I doubt you? I had only hoped that we would earn enough from the cotton crop to last us a few months. Though Swapna knows that cotton will sell for at least Rs 1,800 per quintal, she doesn’t argue further. The trader is a powerful man in the village and the farmers have to depend on him for loans not only for cultivation, but also to meet other exigencies such as illnesses, children’s school fees. Also, there are times in the year when there is no work and no income for the farmers, so borrowing money is the only means of survival. Swapna’s earning from cotton cultivation is barely more than what she might have earned as a wage labourer. The cloth market of Erode Erode’s bi-weekly cloth market in Tamil Nadu is one of the largest cloth markets in the world. A large variety of cloth is sold in this market. Cloth that is made by weavers in the villages around is also brought here for sale. Around the market are offices of cloth merchants who buy this cloth. Other traders from many south Indian towns also come and purchase cloth in this market.On market days, you would also find weavers bringing cloth that has been made on order from the merchant. These merchants supply cloth on order to garment manufacturers and exporters around the country. They purchase the yarn and give instructions to the weavers about the kind of cloth that is to be made. In the following example, we can see how this is done. Putting-out system– weavers producing cloth at home The merchant distributes work among the weavers based on the orders he has received for cloth. The weavers get the yarn from the merchant and supply him the cloth. For the weavers, this arrangement seemingly has two advantages. The weavers do not have to spend their money on purchase of yarn. Also, the problem of selling the finished cloth is taken care of. Weavers know from the outset what cloth they should make and how much of it is to be woven. However, this dependence on the merchants both for raw materials and markets means that the merchants have a lot of power. They give orders for what is to be made and they pay a very low price for making the cloth. The weavers have no way of 1.This is a merchant’s shop in the bazaar. Over the years, these traders have developed extensive contacts with garment firms around the country from whom they get orders. These traders purchase the yarn (thread) from others. 2.The weavers live in villages around and take the yarn supplied by these traders to their homes where the looms are located in sheds adjacent to their houses. This photograph shows a powerloom in one such home. The weavers and their families spend long hours working on these looms. Most weaving units have about 2–8 powerlooms on which the yarn is woven into cloth. A variety of sarees, towels, shirting, ladies dress material and bedsheets are produced in these looms. 3.They then bring back the finished cloth to the traders. Here, they can be seen getting ready to go to the merchant in the town. The trader keeps an account of the yarn given and pays them money for weaving this into cloth. What are the following peopledoing at the Erode cloth market– merchants, weavers, exporters? In what ways are weaversdependent on cloth merchants? If the weavers were to buy yarn ontheir own and sell cloth, theywould probably earn three timesmore. Do you think this ispossible? How? Discuss. knowing who they are making the cloth for or at what price it will be sold. At the cloth market, the merchants sell the cloth to the garment factories. In this way, the market works more in favour of the merchants. Do you find similar ‘putting-out’arrangements in making papads,masalas, beedis? Find out about this in your area and discuss inclass. You might have heard ofcooperatives in your area. It couldbe in milk, provisions, paddy, etc.Find out for whose benefit theywere set up? Weavers invest all their savings or borrow money at high interest rates to buy looms. Each loom costs Rs 20,000, so a small weaver with two looms has to invest Rs 40,000. The work on these looms cannot be done alone. The weaver and another adult member of his family work upto 12 hours a day to produce cloth. For all this work, they earn about Rs 3,500 per month. The arrangement between the merchant and the weavers is an example of putting-out system, whereby the merchant supplies the raw material and receives the finished product. It is prevalent in the weaving industry in most regions of India. Weaver’s cooperative We have seen that the weavers are paid very little by the merchant under the putting out system.Weaver’s cooperatives are one way to reduce the dependence on the merchant and to earn a higher income for the weavers. In a cooperative, people with common interests come together and work for their mutual benefit.In a weaver’s cooperative,the weavers form a group and take up certain activities collectively. They procure yarn from the yarn dealer and distribute it among the weavers. The cooperative also does the marketing.So,the role of the merchant is reduced, and weavers get a fair price on the cloth. At times, the government helps the cooperatives by buying cloth from them at a reasonable price. For instance, the Tamil Nadu government runs a Free School Uniform programme in the state.The government procures the cloth for this programme from the powerloom weaver’s cooperatives. Similarly,the government buys cloth from the handloom weaver’s cooperatives and sells it through stores known as Co-optex.You might have come across one of these stores in your town. The garment exporting factory near Delhi The Erode merchant supplies the cotton cloth produced by the weavers to a garment exporting factory near Delhi. The garment exporting factory will use the cloth to make shirts. The shirts will be exported to foreign buyers. Among the foreign buyers are businesspersons from the US and Europe who run a chain of stores. These large stores do business strictly on their own terms. They demand the lowest prices from the supplier. In addition, they set high standards for quality of production and timely delivery. Any defects or delay in delivery is dealt with strictly. So, the exportertries his best to meet the conditions set by these powerful buyers. Faced with such pressures from the buyers, the garment exporting factories, in turn, try to cut costs. They get the maximum work out of the workers at the lowest possible wages. This way they can maximise their own profits and also supply the garments to foreign buyers at a cheap price. Women workers sewing buttons in a garment factory. What are the demands foreignbuyers make on the garmentexporters? Why do the garmentexporters agree to thesedemands? How do the garment exportersmeet the conditions set by theforeign buyers? Why do you think more women areemployed in the Impex garmentfactory? Discuss. Write a letter to the Minister asking for what you think wouldbe proper payment to the workers. The shirt below shows the profitmade by the businessperson, andthe various costs that he had to pay. Find out from the diagrambelow, what the cost priceincludes. Profit Rs 600 AdvertisingRs 300 Storage, etc.Rs 100 Purchase Rs 200 The Impex garment factory has 70 workers. Most of them are women. Most of these workers are employed on a temporary basis. This means that whenever the employer feels that a worker is not needed, the worker can be asked to leave. Workers’ wages are fixed according to their skills. The highest paid among the workers are the tailors who get about Rs 3,000 per month. Women are employed as helpers for thread cutting, buttoning, ironing and packaging. These jobs have the lowest wages. The shirt in the United States A number of shirts are on display at a large clothes shop in the United States, and are priced at $26. That is, each shirt sells for $26 or around Rs 1,200. Use the diagram shown in the margin to fill in the blanks below. The businessperson purchased the shirts from the garment exporter in Delhi for Rs _______ per shirt. He then spent Rs _______ for advertising in the media, and another Rs _______ per shirt on storage, display and all other charges. Thus, the cost to this person is Rs 600 while he sells the shirt for Rs 1,200. Rs __________ is his profit on one shirt! If he is able to sell a large number of shirts, his profit will be higher. The garment exporter sold the shirt at Rs 200 per piece. The cloth and other raw materials cost him Rs 70 per shirt. The workers’ wages cost another Rs 15 per shirt. The cost of running his office came to Rs 15 per shirt. Can you calculate the profit per shirt for the garment exporter? Who are the gainers in the market? A chain of markets links the producer of cotton to the buyer at the supermarket. Buying and selling takes place at every step in the chain. Let us recall who were the people who were involved in this process of buying and selling. Did they all gain as much? There were people who made profits in the market and there were some who did not gain as much from this buying and selling. Despite their having toiled very hard, they earned little. Can you place them in the table shown here? Market and equality The foreign businessperson made huge profitsprofits in the market. Compared to this, the garment exporter made only moderate profits. On the other hand, the earnings of the workers at the garment export factory are barely enough to cover their day-to-day needs. Similarly, we saw the small cotton farmer and the weaver at Erode put in long hours of hard work. But they did not get a fair price in the market for what they produced. The merchants or traders are somewhere in between. Compared to the weavers, they have earned more but it is still much less than the exporter. Thus, not everyone gains equally in the market. Democracy is also about getting a fair wage in the market. Whether it is Kanta or Swapna, if families don’t earn enough how would they think of themselves as equal to others? On one hand, the market offers people opportunities for work and to be able to sell things that they grow or produce. It could be the farmer selling cotton or the weaver producing cloth. On the other hand, it is usually the rich and the powerful Compare the earnings per shirt ofthe worker in the garment factory,the garment exporter and thebusinessperson in the marketabroad. What do you find? What are the reasons that the businessperson is able to make ahuge profit in the market? You have read the chapter onadvertising. Why does thebusinessperson spend Rs 300 pershirt on advertising? Discuss. People who gained in the market 1. ________________________ 2. ________________________ 3. ________________________ People who didn’t gain as much in the market 1. ________________________ 2. ________________________ 3. ________________________ Did you know that the readymade clothes that you buy require the work of so many different persons? that get the maximum earnings from the market. These are the people who have money and own the factories, the large shops, large land holdings, etc. The poor have to depend on the rich and the powerful for various things. They have to depend for loans (as in the case of Swapna, the small farmer), for raw materials and marketing of their goods (weavers in the putting out system), and most often for employment (workers at the garment factory). Because of this dependence, the poor are exploited in the market. There are ways to overcome these such as forming cooperatives of producers and ensuring that laws are followed strictly. In the last chapter, we will read about how one such fish-workers’ cooperative was started on the Tawa river. 1. What made Swapna sell the cotton to the trader instead of selling at the Kurnool cotton market? 2. Describe the conditions of employment as well as the wages of workers in the garment exporting factory. Do you think the workers get a fair deal? 3. Think of something common that we use. It could be sugar, tea, milk, pen, paper, pencil, etc. Discuss through what chain of markets this reaches you. Can you think of the people that help in the production or trade? 4. Arrange the statements given alongside in the correct order and then fill in the numbers in the cotton bolls accordingly. The first two have already been done for you. 1.Swapna sells the cotton to the trader. 2.Customers buy these shirts in a supermarket. 3.Trader sells cotton to the Ginning Mill. 4.Garment exporters buy the cloth from merchants for making shirts. 5.Yarn dealers or merchants give the yarn to the weavers. 6.The exporter sells shirts to the businessperson from the USA. 7.Spinning mill buys the cotton and sells yarn to the yarn dealers. 8.Weavers return with the cloth. 9. Ginning mill cleans the cotton and makes it into bales. Glossary Ginning mill: A factory where seeds are removed from cotton bolls. The cotton is pressed into bales to be sent for spinning into thread. Exporter: A person who sells goods abroad. Profit: The amount that is left or gained from earnings after deducting all the costs. If the costs are more than the earnings, it would lead to a loss.


Social and Political Life-2


Struggles for Equality

In this book, you have read about people like Kanta, the Ansaris, Melani and Swapna. The thread that connects all of these lives is that they have been treated unequally. What do people do when they face such inequalities? History is full of examples of persons who have come together to fight against inequality and for issues of justice. Do you recall the story of Rosa Parks in Chapter 1? Do you remember the photo-essay on the women’s movement in Chapter 5? In this chapter you will learn about some of the ways in which people have struggled against inequality.As you have already read in this book, the Indian Constitution recognises all Indians as equal before the law and states that no person can be discriminated against because of their religion, sex, caste or whether they are rich or poor. All adults in India have the equal right to vote during elections and this ‘power over the ballot box’ has been used by people to elect or replace their representatives.

What do you think is meant by the expression ‘power over the ballot box’? Discuss.

But this feeling of equality that the ballot box provides, because the vote of one person is as good as that of another, does not extend to most people’s lives. As you have read, the increasing privatisation of health services and the neglect of government hospitals have made it difficult for most poor people like Kanta, Hakim Sheik and Aman to get good quality health care. These people do not have the resources to afford expensive private health services.

Similarly, the man who sells juice does not have the resources to compete with all of the major companies who sell branded drinks through expensive advertising. Swapna does not have sufficient resources to grow cotton and, so, has to take a loan from the trader to grow her crop. This forces her to sell her cotton at a lower price. Melani, like the millions of domestic workers across the country, is forced to endure the insults and hardship of working as a domestic help because she has no resources to set up something on her own. Poverty and the lack of resources continue to be a key reason why so many people’s lives in India are highly unequal.

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) www.in.undp.org

On the other hand, the Ansaris were discriminated against not because they did not have the resources. In fact, despite having the money to pay the required rent, they were not able to find an apartment for over a month. People were reluctant to lease them an apartment because of their religion. Similarly, the main reason that the teachers forced Omprakash Valmiki to sweep the school yard was because he was Dalit. You’ve also read that the work women do is often considered of less value than that done by the men. All of these persons are discriminated against primarily because of their social and cultural background as well as because they are women. Discrimination on the basis of a person’s religion, caste and sex is another significant factor for why people are treated unequally in India.

In India, it is the case that the poor consist of a majority of members of Dalit, Adivasi and Muslim communities and are often women.

According to the 2011 Census data women form 48.5 per cent of the population, Muslims form 14.2 per cent of the population, SCs form 16.6 per cent and STs 8.6 per cent.

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) www.in.undp.org

Can you think of one person in your family, community, village, town or city whom you respect because of their fight for equality and justice?

Often, poverty and lack of dignity and respect for certain communities and groups come together in such powerful ways that it is difficult to identify where one aspect of inequality ends and the other begins. As you have read, Dalit, Adivasi and Muslim girls drop out of school in large numbers. This is a combined outcome of poverty, social discrimination and the lack of good quality school facilities for these communities.

Struggles for equality

Throughout the world – in every community, village, city and town–you will find that there are some people who are known and respected because of their fight for equality. These people may have stood up against an act of discrimination that they faced or which they witnessed. Or they may be well-respected because they treat all persons with dignity and are, therefore, trusted and called upon to resolve issues in the community.

Often, some of these persons become more widely recognised because they have the support or represent large numbers of people who have united to address a particular issue of inequality. In India, there are several struggles in which people have come together to fight for issues that they believe are important. In Chapter 5, you read about the methods used by the women’s movement to raise issues of equality. The Tawa Matsya Sangh in Madhya Pradesh is another example of people coming together to fight for an issue. There are many such struggles such as those among beedi workers, fisherfolk, agricultural labourers, slum dwellers and each group is struggling for justice in its own way. There are also many attempts to form cooperatives or other collective ways by which people can have more control over resources.

Tawa Matsya Sangh

When dams are built or forest areas declared sanctuaries for animals, thousands of people are displaced. Whole villages are uprooted and people are forced to go and build new homes, start new lives elsewhere. Most of these people are poor.In urban areas too, bastis in which poor people live are often uprooted. Some of them are relocated to areas outside the city. Their work as well as their children’s schooling is severely disrupted because of the distance from the outskirts of the city to these locations.

The reservoir of the Tawa river.

This displacement of people and communities is a problem that has become quite widespread in our country. People usually come together to fight against this. There are several organisations across the country fighting for the rights of the displaced. In this chapter we will read about the Tawa Matsya Sangh – a federation of Fisherworker’s cooperatives – an organisation fighting for the rights of the displaced forest dwellers of the Satpura forest in Madhya Pradesh.

Originating in the Mahadeo hills of Chindwara district, the Tawa flows through Betul, before joining the Narmada in Hoshangabad. The Tawa dam began to be built in 1958 and was completed in 1978. It submerged large areas of forest and agricultural land. The forest dwellers were left with nothing. Some of the displaced people settled around the reservoir and apart from their meagre farms found a livelihood in fishing. They earned very little.

A dam is built across a river at sites where one can collect a lot of water. This forms a reservoir and as the water collects it submerges vast areas of land. This is because the wall of the dam across the river is high and the water spreads over a large area. This is a photo of the submergence caused by the Tehri dam in Uttarakhand. The old Tehri town and 100 villages, some totally and some partially, were submerged by this dam. Nearly one lakh people were displaced.

What issue is the Tawa Matsya Sangh (TMS) fighting for?

Why did the villagers set up this organisation?

Do you think that the large-scale participation of villagers has contributed to the success of the TMS? Write two lines on why you think so.

In 1994, the government gave the rights for fishing in the Tawa reservoir to private contractors. These contractors drove the local people away and got cheap labour from outside. The contractors began to threaten the villagers, who did not want to leave, by bringing in hoodlums. The villagers stood united and decided that it was time to set up an organisation and do something to protect their rights.

The newly formed Tawa Matsya Sangh (TMS) organised rallies and a chakka jam (road blockade), demanding their right to continue fishing for their livelihood. In response to their protests, the government created a committee to assess the issue. The committee recommended that fishing rights be granted to the villagers for their livelihood. In 1996, the Madhya Pradesh government decided to give to the people displaced by the Tawa dam the fishing rights for the reservoir. A five-year lease agreement was signed two months later. On January 2, 1997, people from 33 villages of Tawa started the new year with the first catch.

Top: Members of the TMS protesting at a rally. Above: A member of the cooperative weighing the fish.

With the TMS taking over the fishworkers were able to increase their earnings substantially. This was because they set up the cooperative which would buy the catch from them at a fair price. The cooperative would then arrange to transport and sell this in markets where they would get a good price. They have now begun to earn three times more than they earned earlier. The TMS has also begun giving the fishworkers loans for repair and the buying of new nets. By managing to earn a higher wage as well as preserving the fish in the reservoir, the TMS has shown that when people’s organisations get their rights to livelihood, they can be good managers.

Can you think of an incident in your life in which one person or a group of people came together to change an unequal situation.

Adaptation of a song written as part of the Right to Information campaign by Vinay Mahajan:

The Right To Know

My dreams have the right to know

Why for centuries they have been breaking

Why don’t they ever come true

My hands have the right to know

Why do they remain without work all along

Why do they have nothing to do

My feet have the right to know

Why from village to village they walk on their own

Why are there no signs of a bus yet

My hunger has the right to know

Why grain rots in godowns

While I don’t even get a fistful of rice

My old mother has the right to know

Why are there no medicines

Needles, dispensaries or bandages

My children have the right to know

Why do they labour day and night

Why is there no school in sight

What is your favourite line in the above song?

What does the poet mean when he says, “My hunger has the right to know”?

Can you share with your class a local song or a poem on dignity that is from your area?

Creative expression against inequality

While some join protest movements to fight inequality, others might use their pen, or their voice, or their ability to dance to draw attention to issues of inequality. Writers, singers, dancers and artists have also been very active in the fight against inequality. Often, poems, songs and stories can also inspire us and make us believe strongly in an issue and influence our efforts to correct the situation.

The Indian Constitution as a living document

The foundation of all movements for justice and the inspiration for all the poetry and songs on equality is the recognition that all people are equal. As you know, the Indian Constitution recognises the equality of all persons. Movements and struggles for equality in India continuously refer to the Indian Constitution to make their point about equality and justice for all. The fishworkers in the Tawa Matsya Sangh hope that the provisions of the Constitution will become a reality through their participation in this movement. By constantly referring to the Constitution they use it as a ‘living document’, i.e., something that has real meaning in our lives. In a democracy, there are always communities and individuals trying to expand the idea of democracy and push for a greater recognition of equality on existing as well as new issues.

Over 1,500 persons attended a public hearing in Lucknow in 2001 to protest violence against women. Over 15 cases of violence against women were heard by a jury of eminent women who played the role of judges. This people’s jury helped highlight the lack of support in the legal system for women who seek justice in such cases.

What role does the Constitution play in people’s struggles for equality?

Issues of equality are central to a democracy. In this book, we have tried to highlight issues that pose a challenge to this idea of equality in a democracy. These, as you have read, include the privatisation of health services in the country, the increasing control that business houses exert on the media, the low value given to women and their work, and the low earnings made by small farmers who grow cotton. These issues substantially affect poor and marginalised communities, and therefore, concern economic and social equality in the country.

Can you make up a social advertisement on equality? You can do this in small groups.

This is the core of the struggle for equality in a democracy. The dignity and self-respect of each person and their community can only be realised if they have adequate resources to support and nurture their families and if they are not discriminated against.


  • Dreze, Jean and Aparajita Goyal. 2003. ‘Future of Mid-day Meals’. In Economic and Political Weekly.

  • Hossain, Sakhawat Rokeya. 1905. (reprint) 1988. Sultana’s DreamFeminist Press, New York.

  • Kumar. Krishna. 1986. “Growing Up Male” in Seminar 318.
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  • Mead, Margaret. 1928, 1973. (edition) Growing Up In Samoa. American Museum of Natural History, Washington D.C.
  • Medical Council of India, http://www.mciindia.org/Rules-and-Regulation/Ethics%20Regulations-2002.pdf
  • Parks, Rosa. 2000. Quiet Strength. Grand Rapids, Zondervan, Michigan.
  • Rashsundari Devi. 1999. Words to Win. Translated and with an introduction by Tanika Sarkar. Zubaan, New Delhi.
  • Roy, Tirthankar. 1999. ‘Growth and Recession in Small-Scale Industry: A Study of Tamil Nadu Powerlooms’ Economic and Political Weekly.
  • Supreme Court of India, Paschim Banga Khet Mazdoor Samity of Ors. Vs. State of West Bengal & Anr. (Hakim Seikh case, date of judgment: 6 May 1996, http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/imgs1.aspx?filename=15597)
  • Valmiki, Omprakash. 2003. Joothan: A Dalit’s Life. SAMYA, Kolkata. 
  • World Health Organization, Essential medicines and health products,  http://www.who.int/medicines/services/inn/en/
  • www.cehat.org/rthc/policybrieffinal.pdf
  • www.in.undp.org (Sustainable Development Goals – SDGs)
  • www.infochangeindia.org
  • Zubaan. 1996. Poster Women: A Visual History of the Women’s Movement in India. Zubaan, New Delhi.

© Government of India, Copyright 2006

1. The responsibility for the correctness of internal details rests with the publisher.

2. The territorial waters of India extend into the sea to a distance of twelve nautical miles measured from the appropriate base line.

3. The administrative headquarters of Chandigarh, Haryana and Punjab are at Chandigarh.

4. The interstate boundaries amongst Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Meghalaya shown on this map are as interpreted from the “North Eastern Areas (Reorganisation) Act, 1971,”but have yet to be verified.

5. The external boundaries and coastlines of India agree with the Record / Master Copy certified by Survey of India.

6 The state boundaries between Uttarakhand & Uttar Pradesh, Bihar & Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh & Madhya Pradesh have not been verified by the Goverments concerned.

7. The spellings of names in this map have been taken from various sources.

Have you participated in any event related to school road safety?

For materials about road safety education, log on to http://delhitrafficpolice.nic.in

Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, http://morth-roadsafety.nic.in

For short films on road safety, log on to http://transport.telangana.gov.in

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