SIR, With most of the Indians based in Afghanistan returning home, the Government must face the larger strategic question of whether the Indian Embassy was evacuated too early.
India had undertaken evacuations during the 1990s too, but then the presence of Indian nationals was not as large and Indian stakes in Afghanistan were not so high. In the past 20 years, India has built major infrastructure projects, helped script the Afghan Constitution and assisted in the conduct of elections. It seems unfortunate, therefore, that this bank of goodwill came to zero as the Government decided it was safer to pull out. The Government must explain how it expects to approach the new regime in Afghanistan once it is formed. It is still unclear whether this will be merely a repeat of the brutal regime seen from 1996-2001, or a more inclusive coalition, including several former leaders of Afghanistan. The rise of Taliban power and its Pakistani back-up, is a particular security concern as groups such as the LeT and the JeM could use Afghanistan as a base for terror attacks in India. Finally, the Government must explain how it will approach the Afghan people whose lives could be in danger. This includes embassy staff, those working on Indian projects, minorities as well as women. A liberalised visa policy, and swifter processing of the newly launched special “e-Emergency X-Misc” visas would reassure both Afghans and the international community that India’s exit from Afghanistan is not permanent, and it will retain its traditional and historic interests in the country and its people, despite unfortunate events there.
SIR, This is with reference to your front page report, “Unorganised workers database”. The Union minister for labour and employment, Mr. Bhupinder Yadav will be launching e SHRAM portal on 26 August which will provide database of 38 crore unorganised sector workers. This is nothing but a cruel joke. The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in loss of several crore jobs in the unorganised sector in the last 18 months. I wonder why there should be a minister for labour and employment, when there is no job either in the public or private sector. I would like to ask the honourable minister where he has got the data that there are only 38 crore unorganised sector workers in the country. Further the minister has defined an unorganised sector worker as a street vendor, migrant worker, domestic worker or construction labour among others. He should clarify what he means by others.
Does he know how health workers in the private sector are treated? Does he know how much remuneration they get against the number of hours they work? Does he have any idea how many unorganised sector offices have been closed in the last 18 months?
The M.Ps, M.L.As, ministers and government employees will never be able to understand the sufferings of unorganised sector employees, particularly during the pandemic. They have no access to pension, provident fund, casual leave, earned leave and sick leave. They do know what Leave Travel Allowance means.
I would request the ministry not to rub salt in the raw wounds of unorganised sector workers by providing a rosy picture. I would further request the Prime Minister to do something meaningful for these workers.