"Yei Kaisi Aazadi Hei": Social Security Now Dedicates Jagjit Singh Song to the People of India

Yei Kaisi Aazadi Hei" (What freedom is this?) the music video was dedicated to the people of India by Dr. Shanti Patel, a veteran freedom fighter and ex mayor of Mumbai, on 21 October 2008, at the ISKON Convention Centre, Juhu, Mumbai. This video was initiated by Social Security Now, a campaign for securing social security as a right of the Indian workforce, and has been made available to all to use the song and video adaptation for circulation, education and campaigning for social security.

The video describes the plight of the millions of people who struggle to make ends meet. Jagajit Singh, the acclaimed maestro of ghasals, sings the lyrics of poet Nida Fazli. "Who else could be more suited to bring this message than Shri Jagjit Singh, who is accredited with 'bringing the ghazal genre, which was previously restricted to the elite classes, to the masses'? asks J John, Executive Director of Centre for Education and Communication, and a member of Social Security Now, in his speech. The video adaptation was done by Pravin Mishra of LightzMedia.

Raju Bhise, the coordinator of YUVA, while welcoming the guests spoke about the importance of social security for the over 420 million informal workers of the country and also chronicled the history of the Social Security Now campaign and its genesis at the Nagpur Convention in 2006.

"Yei Kaisi Aazadi Hai?", wondered Dr. Shanti Patel, recollecting the sacrifices of the freedom struggle. Dedicating the video CD, he spoke about the unfreedom into which the last eighteen years of economic liberalization has pushed people. He expressed his deep appreciation for the lyrics and visual sequences, which illuminate the uncertainties of the everyday lives of Indian workers. He further emphasized the relevance of the Social Security Now campaign, particularly in a situation where jobless growth and contractualisation dominate the employment sphere.

Quoting the World Bank's latest estimates for India on global poverty of 456 million people living below the new international poverty line of $1.25 per day, J John posed a simple question: "Are they poor because they are not working? People are plagued by poverty and hunger not because they are not working, but because the income they earn is not sufficient to meet theirs and their families' basic necessities". The poor of India are working poor.

Social Security Now is a network of organisations, including trade unions, civil society organisations, people's movements and concerned individuals, who defend the right to social security legislation for more than 93 per cent of the about 450 million workers in India. Unorganised and informal workers are denied the benefits of existing employment regulations and social security laws, and instead are offered social assistance schemes by the State as charity. This is because employment is not regulated; work and its value is not recognised. Globalisation has only compounded the distress of unorganised workers - employment is becoming increasingly informal, and the few and disparate social assistance schemes are being privatised. This despite the fact that these workers have helped build our nation and now contribute more than 60 per cent of the GDP.

Social Security Now has launched this video as part of its massive campaign to reach out to the masses to ensure that workers receive social security as a right. The fraternity of artists and film makers lending their weight to the cause of unorganised workers is expected to strengthen the demand for adoption of the 'Unorganised Workers Social Security Bill' by Parliament in its current session, and to sensitise the masses for a struggle beyond the forthcoming general election.


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