मेहनतकश मजदूरों की थाली में

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पंचवर्षीय योजना एवं कृषि विकास

कृषि विकास को भारत की पंचवर्षीय योजना में बहूत ही महत्वपूर्ण स्थान दिया गया है. भारत सरकार ने  खाद्यायन के उत्पादन को बढाने के लिए बहुत सारी नीतियाँ बनाई हैं. इसी के अंतर्गत उन्होंने पोली हाउस, उच्च प्रजाति के बिज और खाद को उपलव्ध कराने की नीतियाँ एवं सब्सिडी प्रदान करने का काम किया है.

स्वतंत्रता पूर्व जब भारत कृषि संपन्न देश नहीं था तब से देश में  पंचवर्षीय योजनाओं के माध्यम से खेती के ऊपर विशेष ध्यान दिया गया . हमारे देश के प्रथम प्रधानमंत्री जानते थे कि अगर इस देश का विकास करना है तो ‘जय जवान जय किसान’ मन्त्र ही काम आयेगा. जब किसानों के बच्चे पेट भर खाना खाएंगे तभी वो देश के लिए कुछ  कर पायेंगे. अब आज़ादी को ७० साल से ज्यादा हो चुके हैं . देश ने कांग्रेस और भाजपा, दोनों की सरकार देखि हैं.  देश ने विकास और प्रगति दोनों को बहुत करीब से देखा है.

स्थानांतरित मजदूरों का जीवन

इन ७० सालों में स्थानांतरित मजदूरों के जीवन में कोई ख़ास बदलाव नहीं आया है. गरीब मजदूरों के जीवन में तो ख़ास कर कोई बदलाव नहीं आया. स्थानांतरित मजदुर न गाँव का रहा है न ही शहर का.जो गरीब समुदाय आज़ादी के बाद शहरों में आयें उनकी अवस्था किसी से भी छिपी नहीं है. वो शहरों में झुग्गी झोपड़ियों में रहते हैं जहां रहने की प्राथमिक व्यवस्था भी नहीं होती. न उनको खाने की व्यवस्था है, न ढंग से सोने की, न ही पीने के पानी की और न ही शौचालय की. इस तबके के मजदूरों के तरफ सरकार भी बहूत सकारात्मक नहीं होती.

खाद्य पदार्थों का  विज्ञापन एवं  बिडम्बना

टीवी पर हम काफी विज्ञापन देखते हैं जिसमें अभिनेता एक अभिनेत्रियाँ तरह- तरह के खाद्य पदार्थों का  विज्ञापन करते  है. उन्हें ये कहते सुना है की उन पदार्थों के सेवन से हम सब कैसे एक स्वस्थ जीवन यापन कर सकते हैं. ये पदार्थ ख़ास कर कई तरह के जूस, शेक एवं तेल होते हैं. वो बताते हैं की किस तरह का तेल हमें इस्तेमाल करना चाहिए. लेकिन ये एक बड़ी बिडम्बना है की हमारे बीच ऐसे कई लोग अपना जीवन यापन बिना पौष्टिक आहार लिए कर रहे हैं. उनके खाने में उतनी कैलोरी भी नहीं होती जो एक इंसान को स्वस्थ इंसान बने रहने में मदद करती है .

सरिता एस्टेट में कार्यरत मजदूर एवं उनका भोजन

मैं यहाँ आपसे साझा करने जा रहा हूँ सरिता एस्टेट कंपाउंड (३०,००० सक.फीट में फैला हुआ) में कार्यरत मजदूरों के खाने की स्तिथि के बारे में जो दिन रात मेहनत करते हैं और हमारे लिए जरूरत की चीजों का निर्माण करने में लगे हैं.

जब हम वहाँ के कामगारों से मिलने गए तब वो लोहे के पाइप की सफाई एसिड के  इस्तेमाल से कर रहे थें एवं उसके कटाई का काम कर रहे थे. तब दोपहर का १२:३० बजा था. जब हम कंपाउंड के अन्दर के हिस्सों में जाने लगे तो देखा कुछ कारखानों के मजदूर एक जगह पर अपने हाथ में प्लेट लिए एक नल की तरफ इकठ्ठा हो रहे थें. वो सब एक ही तरह के काम करने के कारण गंदे भी एक ही तरह से हुए थे. सब के हाथ एकदम काले हो गए थे. कपडे का भी असली रंग पता नहीं चल पा रहा था. अपना प्लेट और हाथ धो लेने के बाद वो अपने कारखाने की तरह जा रहे थे. हाथ धो लेने के बाद भी उनके हाथों से कालापन निकला नहीं था.

हमने देखा की उनके प्लेट में केवल चावल और दाल (एकदम पानी जैसi ) थi. जब हमने एक कारखाने में खाना खा रहे एक मजदूर से पुछा की आपलोग सब्जी क्यों नहीं बनाते तब हमें जवाब मिला ‘हम दिन भर काम करने में लगे रहते हैं. ऐसे में सब्जी ले भी आयें तो किस के पास वक़्त है उसको धो कर, काट कर और फिर कई घंटे तक उसको पकाने का. दाल चावल बनाना आसन होता है’. दुसरे कारखाने में भी मजदूर दाल-चावल ही खा रहे थें. उन्होंने बताया की दिन में तो वक़्त नहीं होता लेकिन रात में कुछ लोग मिल कर सब्जी धोने और काटने का काम करते हैं. श्याम ने बताया ‘रात के वक़्त कभी सब्जी बन जाती है या कभी- कभी चिकन भी’.

बातचीत से समझ आया की कई मजदूर नाश्ता  करते ही नहीं.  वो सीधा दोपहर का खाना खाते हैं. और जो मजदूर नाश्ता करते हैं वो ठेले वाले के पास कभी पूरी भाझी, पूरी जलेबी, पोहा, इडली, वडा पाँव, पाँव अंडा, पाँव समोसा जैसी चीज़ ही खाते हैं. हम सब ने तो देखा ही है की कैसी जगह पर ये ठेले लगे रहते हैं. सड़क के किनारे जहां धुल बड़ी ही आसानी से इन खानों पर बैठती है.  कई ठेले तो नालों के किनारे होते हैं जहाँ की मखियाँ खानों को गन्दा करती हैं. मुझे इतने जवान और मेहनतकश लोगों के थाली में इस तरह का व्यंजन देख दुःख हुआ. वहाँ के लगभग सभी कारखानों के मजदूरों के प्लेट में एक तरह का खाना था. आधे  घंटे के भीतर ही सारे लोग काम पर वापस लौट आये.

भारत को डिजिटल इंडिया बनाने में हमारी सरकार भरपूर मेहनत कर रही लेकिन क्या इंडिया डिजिटल हो इसके पहले ये जरूरी नहीं की मेहनतकश लोगों को इतना वेतन मिले की वो अच्छा खाना प्राप्त कर सकें. उन्हें ये ना सोचना पड़े की अगर वो अच्छी जगह खाना खायेंगे तो पैसा कैसे बचाएंगे और घर वालों को पैसा कैसे भेजेंगे.

By Kiran Sonawane, Aajeevika Bureau, Mumbai

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The afterlife of discarded items: A story from Mumbai’s recycling industry

By Nisha Bharti, Consultant, Aajeevika Bureau

We discard lots of things from our houses on a daily basis, but we hardly think of the afterlife of those things. In this piece I will take you on the journey of the afterlife of iron pipes which connect our kitchens and bathrooms to the water tank. And more importantly, the unseen and unheard stories of workers who perform the important task of processing and recycling our waste.

When the iron pipes for plumbing get rusted or start leaking, we replace them with new ones. The rusted iron pipes are unusable, and become waste. The wastes from our homes, like iron pipes, are collected by waste collectors from different localities (administrative buildings, malls, residential buildings), who then sell it to waste dealers. The waste dealers sell them on wards to other dealers engaged in the business of stocking and supplying iron materials, which they repair and then sell to construction sites. They might also sell them to manufacturers of different types of iron products.

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My focus is to capture the manufacturing of nipples. These nipples are one the items manufactured by using discarded iron pipes. These nipples are made in Sarita Estate, a compound in L Ward, Mumbai, spread over 30,000 square feet, densely packed with 82 factory units. These units are engaged in manufacturing different types of products: nipples, rubber droppers (to be used with liquid medicines), parts of different types of machines, offices of goods transport vehicles and metal scrap. 71 units out of 82 are engaged in manufacturing nipples. The average number of workers employed in these units is 6-7. In the bustling Sarita Estate, there are more than 500 workers engaged in processing and recycling different kinds of waste.

Types of nipples

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Most of the units are engaged in manufacturing barrel nipple, close nipple or welding nipple.

Work Process

The discarded iron pipes are bought by unit owners from Anna Sagar. The iron pipes are cleaned at two levels: firstly, the upper coating of the pipes are scratched by using a knife or thin small sized iron plate and secondly, the iron pipes are dipped into acid and scrubbed by using an iron scrubber make them shine. The workers who perform these activities are new to the trade, and are called helpers.

The cleaned pipes are then given shapes and made into desired products using lathe, landis and press machine. The workers engaged in using these machines are called technicians. There are two categories of technicians: firstly, those who engage in pipe cutting and secondly, those who engage in angle making and thread making.

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Market for Nipples

Most of these units are owned by own account workers. The manufacturing is not solely determined by orders, but remains a continuous process at these units.  The products are sold to the dealers in Naag Dev Market in Cotton Green, Mumbai. The dealers sell these nipples at whole sale rate to retailers selling plumbing materials. These products manufactured in Sarita Estate have great demand in the national market, and are bought by big buyers as well.

Wages

The workers engaged as helpers are appointed on the wages of Rs. 5000-7000 per month. The technicians employed for pipe cutting work are paid the amount of Rs. 7000-Rs. 9000 per month and those engaged in angle making and thread making are paid the amount of Rs.9000-12000 per month.

Though the method of payment is on monthly basis most of the workers are given ‘kharchi’ of Rs. 500 every Saturday for their expenses during the week. Their wage is calculated after deducting the amount of ‘kharchi’ they took for the whole month. The rest of the amount is paid to them by the end of the month.

Precarious Work Conditions

The average size of the unit engaged in nipple manufacturing is 15*20 feet to 15*30 feet. Large portions of the units are covered by discarded iron pipes. Heavy machines are fixed on one side of the wall, and the rest of the space is used to store different types of manufactured products.

These rooms neither have ventilation nor lighting. The rooms appear suffocating because of the heat generated by the machines. The worker engaged in removing the upper coating of the iron pipes with knives do so without any protective gear. Those who clean pipes using acids do not even use gloves. The technicians too do not use safety gear.

Nishant and Shekhar employed in one of the nipple manufacturing units in Sarita estate perform cleaning work. Nishant was holding the pipe in one hand while he used the other to run a knife very fast over the iron pipe. I asked him, ‘You do it very fast, you might have cut yourself’. in response he showed me the cut marks on his left hand near the root of his thumb, and said, smiling, ‘This keeps happening’. Shekhar was using acid to clean the pipe. He was wearing a glove only on one hand, holding the iron rod. He was using his other hand to hold the mug. This hand was coming in contact with the acid. I asked him, ‘Why do you not use the glove on the other hand?’ He said, ‘Holding mug becomes difficult’.

Shailendra works as technician in the same unit where Nishant and Shekhar work. When I met Shailendra he was cutting iron pipes. The machine was kept near the entrance. There was no source of lighting inside the unit, other than natural light. I asked how he works during evenings. He pointed towards two bulbs hanging inside the room. ‘But, the bulb is very far from the machines’, I told him. He responded, ‘That light is sufficient for this type of work’.

The condition of workers in almost all the units is the same. None of the units provide basic facilities. Workers fetch drinking water from a common tap in the compound. There are two public toilets near the compound which are used by almost 500 workers living and working in the compound.

Deplorable Living Conditions

The average number of workers employed in these units is 6-7. Most of these workers live within their workplace, on the shop floor. The iron rods are placed on one side of the wall during night in order to make space for folding beds. Those beds are then hung on the wall during day time or are kept outside the unit. Some of the workers also spread their folding beds outside the unit, in the open. Some of the units have made a platform like structure by using wood planks in a portion of the room. The workers live on that portion, and the equipments are placed below. These units do not have separate water sources or sanitation facilities. There is a common water source in the centre of the compound.  There is no separate kitchen in the unit – but one corner of the unit is used for cooking. The food is made amidst clouds of dust in the unit.

The day we were in the compound, workers had started gathering near the water tap to clean their utensils and hands at around 1 o’clock in the afternoon. We got a chance to interact with a few more workers while they were having their lunch.

Rajendra shared that the food is cooked on rotation. The workers have divided the responsibilities among themselves. Two workers stop working one hour before lunch time. One cuts and cooks the vegetable while another washes the rice and daal and cooks them.

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Despite their immense contribution to the economy, performing the important work of waste processing and recycling, Mumbai’s waste workers remain invisible and under-valued. They live and work without minimum facilities required to lead a dignified, safe and healthy life, while taking upon their bodies and minds, the burden of creating value from the city’s waste.

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Universal Health Coverage: Building a responsive primary healthcare system

By Manisha Dutta, Executive, Basic Healthcare Services, a partner of Aajeevika Bureau

UHC

On its 70th anniversary year, WHO’s global theme on the occasion of World Health Day focuses on “Universal health coverage (UHC): everyone, everywhere” – ensuring that everyone, everywhere can access essential quality health services without facing financial hardship.

UHC is defined by WHO as, “ the full spectrum of essential, quality health services, from health promotion to prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and palliative care”. In this global movement towards accessibility of quality health services, India envisages UHC as quality healthcare accessible to all Indians regardless of financial status such as where one lives or how much one earns1. Many discussions concerning UHC has centered on the financial aspects considering the abysmally low spending on health and family welfare (0.3% of GDP, 2016-17 Budget). In the 2018 budget , India focused on providing quality primary healthcare for all directing 70% of its health expenditure under the ambitious Ayushman Bharat initiative.

However fund allocation and spending is the tip of the iceberg. One of the key concerns that looms around is the accessibility, availability of quality health services in the country. According to NFHS 42, three key reasons were identified for not using government health facilities . 48% households reported ‘poor quality care’, 45% shared that no Government facility is available nearby and 41% highlighted the long waiting time at Government facilities. While the Government is seen as the key player in ensuring access to quality healthcare under UHC, accessibility and quality of care in public healthcare in India needs further thinking.

One –tenth of India’s population is dependent on seasonal migration3. The districts of Dungarpur and Udaipur and their neighbouring areas see a large proportion of rural, tribal migrants travelling to Gujarat (about 55%) in search of work in the informal labour market. Members of migrant households who remain in the villages –the women and children are at a higher vulnerability due to absence of liquidity, poor autonomy on decision-making and lack of accessibility of health services.  A study conducted among agricultural workers who migrate from southern Rajasthan to Idar tehsil of Banaskatha district of Gujarat highlighted that no antenatal care and immunisation were received by the sample group4. Thus this calls for a strong emphasis on primary healthcare that is in sync with the social realities of the community it caters to.

Mangra fala is a small hamlet located in a corner of Dungarpur district in Rajasthan. The hamlet with 40 households is surrounded by lofty hills and disconnected from the pakka roads due to a perennial stream running by the village. The impenetrable topography is further distressed by poor availability of any facility in the area.  26 year old Lalki lives with her two children in this hamlet. During one of the wintry nights of January’17, Lalki  was nine months pregnant with her second child. Her husband like many other men in the village, was a migrant working as a labour in marble polishing in Gujarat . On that wintry night, Lalki was all by herself when her labour pains had started. She knew the ‘time’ had arrived. She tried calling the 104 but there was no way by which the 4 wheeler could cross the hills. Lalki was helpless and lonely.

She then decided to call up the nursing staff of her sub-centre Pal Nithauwa, who she knew well having met them over five times during her antenatal check-ups. The nearest PHC located in Nithauwa Panchayat was 15km from her house. The male GNM staff, having received her call left immediately on his bike in the wee hours of the night to Lalki’s home. He quickly assessed her condition, helped her pack her clothes, spoke to her husband and left for the PHC carrying Lalki safely on his bike. As soon as she reached, Lalki was taken to the labour room by the PHC team and 3 hours into labour,  she delivered a healthy baby girl. Lalki and her child were  admitted and closely observed for 48 hours at the PHC. The following day after discharge, the ANM and the ASHA followed up at her home and subsequently Lalki received 5 PNC visits. As her child grew up, Lalki ensured she vaccinated her child on time and completed full immunisation.

The story of Lalki is one of the many stories where inaccessibility and deprivation related to care-seeking by the most vulnerable sections have been eliminated by a responsive primary healthcare. The presence of an ANM and ASHA in her vicinity, the care and contact maintained throughout her pregnancy enabled her to access a timely , safe institutional delivery. Most importantly, realising the disrupted connectivity, the male GNM of the PHC volunteered to offer his contact number for any medical emergencies and went ahead to enable her reach the PHC on time. Later,the subcentre team also took it as a responsibility to speak to the residents of the hamlet regarding community support for ensuring timely, appropriate care-seeking and delivery at the primary healthcare centre. Prior to Lalki, Mangra Fala was one of the hamlets with high numbers of home deliveries. In the same year (2017) thirteen safe deliveries from Mangra Fala were conducted at the PHC.

PHC Nithauwa located in Aspur Block of Dungarpur district of Rajasthan,  has been  jointly managed under a Public –Private Partnership by Basic HealthCare Services, Aajeevika Bureau and the Govt. of Rajasthan for the past two and half years. Apart from a high Outpatient footfall of over 51,000 in a span of 2 years, the PHC has managed 1463 in-door patients as well. A demographic analysis highlighted 75% of patients were tribal and 47.5% were women seeking care at the PHC. It has seen the highest number of deliveries in the entire Aspur Block (930 deliveries) consecutively in 2016 and 2017.

Ensuring quality care has been a key part of the PHC which involves round the clock availability of a physician and skilled nursing staff, emergency management , continuum of care through clinical and outreach services. 49% of the deliveries at the PHC were conducted during the night and referrals ensured on time. Apart from patient care, quality infrastructure such as a well equipped labour room, baby warmer, autoclave , phototherapy machine, defibrillator and a clean maternity ward have enabled to provide quality care and treatment at the PHC. This, along with a well-spread outreach activities like timely antenatal, postnatal check-ups, immunisation, active surveillance of malaria and TB screening activities, community engagements through schools, home visits, Gram Sabha have focused on preventive and promotive care and community ownership towards health.

The presence of the PHC in the tribal pockets of Dungarpur district has enabled to reduce  health shocks to a large extent. For many areas like Mangra Fala , falling within 24,000 catchment population of PHC Nithauwa, the  motivated PHC team has taken a step ahead in ensuring accessibility of the health facility to the underserved population.

Primary Healthcare continues to be the foundation on which healthcare of a nation rests. The National Health Policy 2017 outlines “the attainment of the highest possible level of health and wellbeing for all at all ages, through a preventive and promotive health care orientation through increasing access, improving quality and lowering the cost of healthcare delivery.”  Apart from free-of-cost services, a skilled, motivated health workforce and availability of infrastructure go a long way in defining a fully functioning and responsive primary healthcare.

For India, Ayushman Bharat (a step towards universal health coverage) can become a reality if aspects of quality and multi-dimensional ways of enhancing patient-centric care is given a serious thought and focused upon . This requires at the very foremost to strengthen the entire system of primary healthcare that is in sync with the social realities of the community.

References

  1. http://uhc-india.org/faq.php
  2. National Family Health Survey 4 (2015-16): ‘Morbidity and Health Care’ , Pg 347
  3. Pavitra Mohan : “Labour-Migrants: excluded from Universal Health Care in India” in http://bhs.org.in/labour-migrants-excluded-from-universal-health-care-in-india/
  4. Rajiv Khandelwal, Amrita Sharma, Divya Varma , “Creative Practices and Policies for Better Inclusion of Migrant Workers: The Experience of Aajeevika Burea”

 

 

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Salim bhai’s Difficult Journey: A glimpse into the lives of Narol’s garments workers

Garment workers

He stitches the Gazi – the chain section in trousers or jeans for a rate as low as 50 paise per piece. In a day, he stitches around 1000 pieces, working continuously for 8 to 9 hours in order to earn Rs. 500.

Salim bhai, an industrial garments tailor master in Narol, Ahmedabad, always aspired to become a teacher. Coming from a labouring family in Gonda in Uttar Pradesh, he had to give up his dreams to harsh economic realities.

As the eldest son in his family, he was forced to drop out of school after 9th grade, to perform daily wage labour alongside his father, earning Rs. 70 a day. The work was backbreaking but did not present any opportunities for better skills or improved wages.

To Salim’s rescue came his long distanced uncle who worked as a machine maintenance operator in a company in Narol. Once, while visiting his home in the village, his uncle advised the family, “If you know how to stitch, you can easily find a job in Ahmedabad”.

They realised that Ahmedabad has plenty of opportunities due to its growing textile industry. However, not much attention was paid to his advice as Salim was still studying at that time. When Salim had no choice but to work, he remembered his uncle’s comment.

Through his uncle, he found a job in Narol as a helper and learner. He started to work in the garment industry at the age of 19 years. It took Salim 27 years, and working in 6-7 companies to progress from a helper to a tailor master.

His entire life has been like that of a machine running on burning fuel through the days and nights to produce a meagre income to sustain his family. He rarely gets time to visit his village except for Eid and Diwali in a year. There are no holidays for Salim and his fellow garment workers.

Today, he earns as per the number of pieces he is able to stitch per day. He stitches the Gazi – the chain section in trousers or jeans for a rate as low as 50 paise per piece. In a day, he stitches around 1000 pieces, working continuously for 8-9 hours in order to earn Rs. 500. In a month, he is able to earn Rupees 14,000 to Rupees 15,000.

Salim bhai persistently repeated, “Ahmedabad pehle jaisa nahi raha, sab badal gaya hai” (Ahmedabad is no longer the same as it was in older times, everything has changed). He added that the demand for practiced stitching workers has reduced to a great extent due to plenty of cheap labor available in the market. The company owners do not value the experience, all they want is to make money by investing the least. Thus, making huge profits at the cost of informal workforce.

Sadly, the garment workers do not even know the profits that the Company owners make out of their sweat and blood efforts. The profit earned is 5 to 10 times of what they receive as payment, depending on the different brands in the market.

By Goutam Mahanty, Executive, Aajeevika Bureau

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A woman shopkeeper in Kurla, Mumbai tells her story

As told to Nisha Bharti, Consultant, Aajeevika Bureau 

Bharti, a 55 year old widow, was a mother of five by the age of just 30. Her husband died fifteen years ago. While she has married off her two daughters, the responsibility of her three other children rests on her shoulders. 

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I worked as a domestic worker for a few months. The money I was earning was not sufficient to run the family. Then I met a person who offered me job in Shiv Sena office near Kurla. My responsibility was to clean the office and to prepare tea for party members. After working for two years in that office I left that job and decided to start my own snacks shop. Since then I am running this shop. I have recently renovated this shop. My son helped me in renovating this. Earlier I only used to sell tea and two or three types of biscuits. Now I have stacked many varieties of biscuits, chocolates and tobaccos.

After my husband’s death, none of my relatives helped me. I myself took care of my children. I worked at my shop for more than twelve hours each day and financed my children’s education. I married off my one daughter and one son.  My eldest son works in a factory where fire alarms, alarms for police vehicles and ambulances are made. He has two children. My mother and my daughter-in-law look after the house when I am at the shop. I open my shop by 8:00 o’clock in the morning and stay here till 1:30 p.m.

My mother sits in the shop from 1:30-3:30. I go home, freshen up, have lunch and take rest for a while and I again come here by 3:30 p.m and sit till 8:00 p.m.  I have suffered lots of pain in my life to raise my children. I do not want to remember those days. Those days were very painful. Only my children and I know that pain.

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Kavita’s story: 15 years living and working in Ahmedabad’s construction sites

Kavita Tulsi Patil.jpg

As told to Jagjit Singh, Aajeevika Bureau

Kavita has been living in Ahmedabad for the last 15 years with her husband. Her troubles started when her husband fell sick and could no longer work. They have been living at various construction sites, without a home, ever since. Her biggest worry is her husband’s health. Kavita has to move and work along with him.  

“I was born in a middle class family in Akola, Maharashtra and never thought I would live my life wandering like this. Before my husband fell sick we were doing good and had lots of hope and dreams about Ahmedabad. 15 years ago my father-in-law brought us to Ahmedabad where he was working as a security guard in a construction site. That was the first time I saw such a huge building from inside.

I did not like the place in the beginning and would often fight and argue with my husband. He kept telling me that it’s a temporary arrangement and soon they will have their own place. He is honest and a hard working man and I trusted him. But things only turned worst. First, my father-in-law died and then my husband was diagnosed with a heart condition. I had two little kids with me and no place to stay.

“Can you imagine this? So we kept moving from one construction site to another. And it’s been 15 years now!  We still have no house. I cannot go back to my village as there is no work there. Here I earn Rupees 200 per day where as in the village its Rupees 70-80 per day. I have stopped worrying now though. The God will take care of everything. He can’t be this unfair to us. Can he?”

Jagjit asked Kavita if she liked Ahmedabad.

“This city has been feeding us for so many years. If my husband had not fallen sick our life could have been different. Having a house in Ahmedabad is an expensive thing. We can save money by living on the construction site. Even though I want a house, I could never afford one. I have no land in the village, so I’m not thinking of going back there.”

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Rallying for our rations – Ujala Samoohs fight back

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Caregiver and domestic help: how Shoba copes with her husband’s paralysis

As told to Nisha Bharti, Consultant, Aajeevika Bureau

When the main breadwinner in the household becomes ill and can no longer work, the repercussions are felt for the whole family, particularly the women.  Shoba, 42 years old, is the full-time caretaker of her invalid husband and works for a local family in Mumbai. She earns just Rs. 100 a day for her domestic work. She is used to long hours and the drudgery of work, as the youngest daughter-in-law of a joint family, but she is constantly worrying about her husband’s welfare.

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Everything was fine until my husband had a paralytic attack seven years back. Our life turned upside down. My in-laws supported us initially, but when the doctor said that his condition could never be improved, their support came to an end. We could not continue his treatment because of the lack of money.

My parents did not give me education, so I had limited options to choose for work. I also had to take care of my husband. I started working as a domestic help in a house nearby . I was getting Rs. 1500 per month for cleaning the utensils twice in a day and cleaning the house once in the morning. But now for the last 2-3 months, I have started doing all the household chores like washing clothes, cleaning utensils and house, cleaning-cutting and washing vegetables, dusting etc. for Rs. 3000 per month.

In the morning, I help my husband to use the bathroom and give him a dry wash; I clean his clothes, help him sit up in the chair and feed him breakfast. He cannot even roll over in bed by himself, or reach for a glass of water next to him. While I am at work, I am worried for my husband. I want to return home just after finishing my work but sometimes my employer asks me to do some extra work, and this irritates me. She understands my problems but on some days she gets angry and threatens to hire someone else. When I come home, I sometimes find that my husband has wet himself. I have to change his bedding and change his clothes. I help him sit in the chair.

I get paid Rs. 100 for working about 4 hours, but it is barely enough to sustain ourselves. I cannot take on more work because my husband needs me. I am asking my employer to give me Rs. 150 – at the very least. It is two months since I suggested this, and she is not saying anything about my request. I am helpless because I cannot take more work – I must look after my husband.

Some of my friends and relatives ask me to leave my husband because he is not capable of doing anything – but I say them, when he was capable of doing everything he took care of me very lovingly. Now when he needs me the most I cannot leave him. I have stopped meeting such friends and relatives.

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Manjula: an Ahmedabad tailor who wants to be her own boss

As told toManjula Verma.jpg Jagjit Singh, Executive, Aajeevika Bureau

Manjula has been working in a small garment unit in Narol for the last 5 years. She works in the tailoring division and stitches buttons. She works on piece-rate basis and therefore has no fixed timing, but she enters the unit at 9 am in the morning and leaves by 7 pm. She gets Rs. 1 for stitching buttons on one shirt; on average she earns Rs. 200-250 per day. Both her sons are studying.

“I am not satisfied with my job because I know the tailoring work in detail but I still don’t get any better work. I have to keep on stitching buttons.”

When it’s off season she does not find as much work, so she earns less. However when its festival season and most out-of-state workers move back to their villages, they are burdened with extra work and can’t say no to her.

“Most of the tailor masters in the units are male and they don’t trust women with cloth pieces.”

Manjula has bought a sewing machine at home and now caters to local customers. She says she wants to open a boutique so she can be “her own boss.”

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A Day in the Life: A Woman Fish Vendor of Mumbai

As told to Nisha Bharti, Consultant, Aajeevika Bureau

Lata Raju Yadav, a 52 year old widow, was born in a small village called Damner, near Bhusawal. She now works as a fish vendor in Mumbai. 

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I was nine years old when my mother died. After my mother’s death, my father brought us to Mumbai. He put me in a school in Govandi. But after my sister’s marriage, I could not continue my study. I was the only girl left at home so all the responsibilities of household chores fell on my shoulders.

Once my sister was married, I dropped out from the school. I then got married when I was 15 years old. I got my first child (son) when I was 17 and second child (girl) when I was 18. I lost my husband when my eldest child was five years old.  Since then I am looking after my family. Both of my children are married now. I worked as domestic worker for two years. I started disliking the work because some of the employers were very rude. I decided to start selling fish.

A day in the life

I have a long day. I get up at 4:30 am in the morning and get ready. I pack my lunch, my basket and other things and leave for the dockyard at 5:30 am from Govandi station. It takes me almost 45 minutes to reach the fish market. I finish selecting the fish, negotiate the price and pack my stuff by 9:30 a.m. I reach the dockyard station by 10:00 a.m. I take a train from there and get down at Kurla station. I come to my vending point by 11:00 am, and sit there selling fish, until 3:00 p.m.

While I am working, I can’t risk using the toilet and have to hold it in all day. It’s a big problem for me – the toilets are so dirty and it takes too much time to fetch water from a public tap, and then go to the public toilet. I have no relatives of my own whom I can trust to look after my things, while I am using the toilet. At 3 pm, I get a chance to use the pay and use (Rs. 2/-) toilet at Kurla station before boarding the train for my home in Govandi.

Once I am home, I take a bath, clean my clothes, have food and take rest till 5:00 p.m. Then my work begins again: I sell the remaining fish in the market near my home. I return from the market by 9:00 p.m.  I clean my house, prepare food, wash utensils, cut vegetables to be cooked next morning. I go to bed by 12:30-1:00 a.m, after finishing the household chores.

 

 

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