NASVI

 

No Delay! Pass the Street Vendors Law in Current Session of Parliament

No Benefit and Honour in Killing Livelihood of Street Vendors!

No to FDI in Retail

Scrap Draconian Provision of Food Safety and Regulation Act

 

As cities and towns are growing in India, many opportunities and challenges are also coming up before the urban working poor like street vendors. The opportunities can only be availed and challenges can only be faced if adequate legal framework is put in place by the government to protect and promote the livelihood and social security of street vendors and other vulnerable living in informal settings. Only such a comprehensive and effective legal framework can trigger large scale organizing and federalization of street and market vendors. Once this happens, they would be able to live a descent life and contribute to local economies across cities and towns.

In last two and half years, street vendors in India campaigned a lot and advocated vigorously with the ministries of national government for getting a comprehensive and overarching central law. Many struggles followed and twists and turns came during negotiating with governance institutions, but finally, the vendors and their national voice succeeded in influencing the government to start drafting the legislation.

As things stand today, the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Bill prepared by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, Government of India has been endorsed by the Law Ministry and it is supposed to be placed in the Union Cabinet for its approval before it is placed on the floor of Indian Parliament in the current session.

In last couple of days, the Union Cabinet has met many times, but despite many advocacy efforts, it has not taken up the proposed Bill for approval. As things are progressing, the priorities of cabinet seem to be more on opening telecom and retail sector and less on according a new deal to urban working poor.

Last year, when the government intended to open the retail sector for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), thousands and thousands vendors, hawkers and small traders came out on the streets in various areas of the country. NASVI also organized nationwide protests on 30 November, 2011.  NASVI then had asserted that the FDI in retail would further threaten the livelihood of street vendors. The foreign companies would certainly try to drive out the street vendors through huge investment.  Moreover, as consumers would continue to be attracted to the street vendors as the things sold are fresh and cheaper, these foreign companies would also use dubious methods like bribing police to drive street vendors out. The agitating vendors and other retailers had found the official government arguments diversionary and said that small farmers and consumers would certainly not get benefitted and a new class of middlemen patronized by Wal-Mart type companies would emerge. The inflation would not come down, prices of essential goods would further escalate and incidence of labour rights violation would be regular.

The nationwide anti-FDI protests had forced the government to take a retreat. But, it is ironic that the same government that had to stand on its back foot has again trying to open the retail sector. The street vendors do need to again protest the government on this issue.

The government has also come up with a revamped version of Food Safety and Regulation Act which contains a number of draconian provisions. The street vendors welcome the provisions of regulation, but shall continue opposing the black measures which are meant to terrorize and evict the food vendors.

Situated in the above said context, the nationwide campaign on 18 August, 2012 is going to assert the following issues/demands before the UPA government:

       No Delay! Pass the Street Vendors Law in Current Session of Parliament

      No Benefit and Honour in Killing Livelihood of Street Vendors! No to FDI in Retail

      Scrap Draconian Provision of Food Safety and Regulation Act

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