Female Domestic Helps in Crisis
Female domestic helps are the vital fuel of the urban middle class living, particularly in the housing colonies within the city and its adjacent area. They are helping to these families as sweepers, washers, cooks, and caring workers of children, elderly and sick. But their duties are hectic in respect of their work schedule, working hours and job specification including wages. In fact, their wages usually depend on the nature of work and duration of the work. Anyway, these female domestic helps use to work in more than one families and as a result of this, their time bound work helps to earn a sizable amount per month by which they can manage and maintain their daily living with dignity. But it hardly ever meets comfortability which they expect.

During the times of coronavirus pandemic, they lost their job, and they were under lock within their own families. They faced financial difficulties and domestic violence. Their struggle and hard work for self-dependent living with dignity and justice are violated as before joining in the earning process. Their decision-making processes in the family is disrespected. Many of them are a sole earner of their family. So, their family faced the extreme threat of hunger. Due to absence of their earning which they plan-fully incurred in their domestic purposes were abruptly broken. Sometimes, they used to manage their daily living after taking a private loan at high interest. Some of them were the members of SHGs supported by Bandhan, a private agency. They became defaulters.

After unlock 1.0, they hopefully contacted to their employers. Initially, they refused to depute further in their work because of fear of spread of infection of thecoronavirus. When the situation turned into a new normal, they were also refused to reappoint in their jobs because of the fear and secondly because of their financial thick and thin position of their employers(householders). Thirdly, the employers did not feel their essentialities. They were habituated to manage their householders' jobs in their own during this long period of lockdown.

As a result of this, female domestic helps fall under the financial burden. Here it might be significantly noted that the majority of them uses to work in more than one households. It helps them to earn a sizable amount. Now they have to manage from a single or two households. It has created trouble to manage and maintain their families before the lockdown which ensured a better living.

For example, Sabita(38), Sandhya(34), Laksmi(40) and others, female domestic helps coming from different villages of South 24 Paraganas usually carried out their work in 5 households. They spared their whole day from morning 6 o'clock to afternoon (4 o'clock) and they earned Rs. 6-7 thousand per month altogether before lockdown. Now theyhardly work in two households, and their earnings have reduced to Rs. 2-2.5 thousand per month after sparing the whole day as before. They shared, 'we are now in difficulties to maintain our family with food, health care, and children education and so forth. We use to face threats from borrowers for their inability to recover the loan with interest. Our male counterparts are not getting work by which we can manage somehow. We get government aid (rice, and wheat, etc.) for that time being. Now it is very limited and infrequent. After all, our survival is under threat. We do not think how to protect our family. In our villages, there is no such job, even after a MGNEGRA job card holder not getting jobs and wages. The central or state is not considering our daily suffering.'

It is not only the situation of the female domestic helps. The female folks who are engaged in unorganised or informal organised sectors( beauty-care workers, untrained health care workers, shop attendants, and so forth) face the problem of joblessness as well as financial hurdle in daily lives. It becomes the prime hindrance of their equity and justice. The government (central or state) might undertake policy and programme considering their situation. Otherwise, women's empowerment would be further emerged under darkness.
Harasankar Adhikari

Reading Marx Politically
In the orthodox/official communist and Marxist writings, Marx's Capital is treated as a universal theory of the journey of Capital. It should be mentioned in this connection that in his preface (1867) to the first German edition of Capital, Vol. 1, Marx clarified that he used England "as the chief illustration" in the development of his theoretical ideas, as England was the "classic ground" of capitalist mode of production up to that time.

In his later writings, Marx was trying to understand the dynamics of capitalist transformations in countries outside Western Europe, particularly Russia.

In his letter to Vera Zasulich (1881), Marx analysed the capitalistic developments in Russia: "A certain sort of capitalism being brought up at the cost of the peasantry through the intervention of the state has arisen and is standing against the village community". (Quoted in M. Tanaka, "The Narodniki and Marx on Russian Capitalism in the 1870's-1880's", 1969)

The recent farmers' protests/movement in India against the anti-farmer laws of the State propel us to argue that Marx's writings should be read contextually for insightful understanding of political developments of our time. The peasant question cannot be bypassed in understanding the path of capitalism being pursued in contemporary India and resistance against it.
Arup Kumar Sen, Kolkata

Vol. 53, No. 32, Feb 7 - 13, 2021