Working Class Heroes- Our backbone of India

TNN Bureau. Updated: 7/27/2022 8:25:08 PM Edit and Opinion

Shubham Dalmotra
“I feel depressed seeing my hopes dying” said an athlete, turned labourer. Flaunting his medals and wiping his tears, he asked for help to resume his athletic career. There are many unheard stories of different people like him who belong to the unorganised sector and struggle to get the basic amenities and dignity in society. The term unorganized worker has been defined under the Unorganized Workers' Social Security Act, 2008. It includes weavers, handloom workers, fishermen and fisherwomen, toddy tappers, leather workers, plantation labourers, beedi workers. As per the Government of India statistics, the unorganised sector contributes to almost 50% of the total GDP and 86.6% of India’s workforce. In unorganized sectors, employees have less facilities than the employees of the organised sector.
Some of the problems faced by labourers in the unorganized sector are low wages, with no provision for overtime, paid leave, holidays, leave due to sickness etc. Employment is subject to a high degree of insecurity, it is largely outside the control of government, and children are the most exploited amongst the employees in an unorganised sector. Lastly, the work is not fixed, it depends on various factors so in search of the job the labourers have to move from one place to another. The expenses spent on migration pose a threat to their livelihood. While talking to another labourer, Khagesh (18) from Chhattisgarh, he said, “This Sun can’t stop you when you have responsibilities on your shoulder.” Maybe this sounds inspiring but an 18 year old working in 45 degrees Celsius to repay a family loan is miserable.
A big section of people have privileged lives and the unorganised sector serves them, the elite who lives in spacious homes. The difference in income between the two is enormous. These people include delivery boys, domestic helps, local vendors and wage worker, and many more. While interacting with Ajay from UP who studies in class 6th, he said “meri age shayad 14 ya 15, theek se maloom nahi". I sell coconut water during the day and attend online classes in the evening. According to the change of seasons I also sell fruit juice and dry fruits. I started working 1 year ago as during covid my father got sick and our farm was destroyed, days went by and we didn't have ration. "Bohut dikkat thi, keval paani pee pee ke 3-4 din rahe, tab sarkar se koi thoda thoda ration diya". Now my brother and I have come to Jammu to earn more.
Young teenagers like Ajay who should be at school and studying, are working in this cruel heat just to feed their families and aspire to get stable jobs in future. After talking to a few of them and listening to their struggle, it stopped me in my tracks and made me realise the plight of the masses, whom no one is interested in.
Channel22 team went on ground and brought to you their stories of struggle, of resilience, of not backing down all through the month of July. Our team met some working class heroes and felt the pain which they go through on a daily basis. On ground stories help in better understanding of their problems. In a report titled, “Migration in India 2020-21” the survey gives an account of the state of migration and migrants during the period of July 2020 to July 2021. The report shows that 51.6% of rural migrants migrated from urban areas in the aftermath of the pandemic. Even post covid many of these migrants are struggling to find work. Channel22 believes in the power of social media and to use social media for social change. We started a digital campaign and published stories on our social media pages and tried to amplify their voices.
At while thinking on how we could help people like Ajay, a quote from the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu strikes us which says, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”. We decided to help all the cases we identified in such a way that rehabilitation lasts for a long time. But, at the individual level, how each one of YOU can help, is just by being kind to them and showing some generosity. At least we can offer water to delivery guys. According to a survey by Oxfam, the vast majority of live-in domestic workers work a minimum of 15 hours a day, seven days a week. We can give them a week off. We should buy from local vendors, it not only helps the vendor but also boosts the local economy. If you know anyone around you who genuinely needs help, kindly contact us with their stories and help them to make their lives better.
Let’s all come together and support working class heroes, the backbone of our economy.

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