Skip to main content

Disinterested in politics, Punjab's 93% women farm workers "ignorant" who is India's PM

By Rajiv Shah
Even as political parties are fighting a pitched battle during the Lok Sabha elections, a recent study, 'Socio-Economic Conditions and Political Participation of Rural Women Labourers in Punjab', has made the stark revelation that “a very large majority of the rural woman labourers, i.e., 95.28 per cent have no interest in politics”, even as pointing out, “They do not read, listen and watch news.”
The study says, not only do rural woman labourers “have no time to watch or listen to news because they remain pre-occupied with the domestic chores”, and being illiterate, they “are not able to read newspapers”, significantly, 89.28 per cent of the respondents “do not know even the name of the Chief Minister of Punjab.”
Carried out by a team led by agricultural economist Dr Gian Singh and his team comprising Dharampal, Gurinder Kaur, Veerpal Kaur and Jyoti, the study says, “Similarly, a very large majority of the respondents, i.e., 92.72 per cent failed to tell the name of the Prime Minister of the country.” Further: “Almost all the respondents, i.e., 99.21 per cent have no idea about the name of the President of the country.”
The study, which has been carried out in three geographical regions of Punjab, Majha, Doaba and Malwa, and is based on a survey of 1,017 respondents, with more than half (51.33 per cent) whom having begun to work as labourers when they were less than 20 years of age, says, “A large majority of the respondents, i.e., 83.28 per cent do not know the names of any two female political leaders of the state and 78.56 per cent could not tell the names of the various political parties in India.”
According to the study, while it is a “good sign” that a very large majority of the respondents, i.e., 95.97 per cent cast their votes in the last Punjab Legislative Assembly elections, during the field survey, it was observed that “a majority of the woman labourers in all the three regions cast their vote by the choice of their senior male family members”.
Even these male family members, the study claims, were found to be “further pressurized” by the money-lenders, shopkeepers, traders, employers, landlords and religious leaders, adding, a very large majority of the women respondents, i.e., 97.25 per cent, have “never participated in any political campaign/public assembly.” This is because these woman labourers “have to perform dual duty at the workplace and on the domestic front.”
The study also shows that “a very large majority of the respondent labourers, i.e., 96.67 per cent are not willing to be elected as representatives in elections, if they get an opportunity”, with the respondents feeling “very disappointed regarding this aspect.” In fact, they gave responses like "asi ane joge kithe?", "hun tan agle janam vich dekhange?", "gareeban nu kon moaka dinda?", which bring “out the extent of exclusion of the rural woman labourers in the Indian political system.”
It comments, “This approach makes the rural women insignificant for voting results and so the development policies ignore their interests.”

Women workers' profile

The profile of the women agricultural labourers in the study shows that more than two-thirds of the rural woman labourers (67.35 per cent) are illiterate, and even among the literate, majority of them are educated up to the primary level, with poor economic conditions compelling them “to start work as labourers at an early age.
Further, the survey shows, a large majority of the rural woman labourers, i.e., 92.43 per cent belong to the Scheduled Caste category, 7.08 per cent to the Backward Class category and only 0.49 per cent to the General Caste category. Majority of them live in semi-pucca houses, and most of their houses are in dilapidated conditions. They find it hard to even get their houses repaired.
Pointing out that an average rural woman labour household earned Rs 77,198, with only 24.91 per cent of their total income coming from hiring out (contractual as well as casual) labour in agriculture, “too low to meet the basic needs”, the study says, “This is the reason that the earning members of the rural woman labour households are also struggling to earn their income from other sources.”
Other sources of income include working at MGNREGA sites, as domestic servants, white-washing, brick-kiln workers, livestock, vending vegetables/fruits, dairying, labour in grain markets and tailoring, the study says, noting, however, “Not even a single respondent woman labourer is aware about the Minimum Wages Act which provides for fixing the minimum rates of wages for them.”
Ignorant towards their basic rights, the study also reveals that majority of the rural woman labourers, i.e., 62.83 per cent, are suffering from one or the other serious diseases such as body aches, sugar and blood pressure, bronchia problems, heat exhaustion and so on, apart from unhygienic living conditions and lack of balanced diet. Even then, medical facilities such as hospitals and laboratories are not available to them and consult local medical practitioners only.
The study says, “More than one-fourth of the respondents, 25.27 per cent, complain that they face caste discrimination at the workplace. They reported that the 'socalled' higher caste employers often use abusive language such as 'chuhri', 'chamari' and so on for them.” It notes, during the survey, “5.01 per cent of the respondents said they faced sexual exploitation at the workplace, whereas a large majority of them (70.60) did not given any response on this issue.”

Comments

Uma said…
This is not surprising. After all, when do we get a chance to even hear the president, forget listening to his speeches, except for an occasional condolence or congratulatory message which he is coached to utter. As for the majority of ministers--national or state--unless they stir up controversies, they are over-shadowed by the vocal few.

TRENDING

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Don't agree on domestic subsidies, ensure food security at WTO meet: Farmer leaders

Counterview Desk  The Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements (ICCFM), a top network of farmers’ organizations in India, in a letter to Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce and Industry, has asked him to “safeguard food security and sovereignty, even as ensuring peasants' rights" at the 13th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO MC 13), to take place from 26 to 29 February 2024 in Abu Dhabi.

Students, lawyers, professors detained in Delhi for demonstrating in support of farmers

By Our Representative  About 25 protestors, belonging to the civil rights network, Campaign Against State Repression (CASR), a coalition of over 40 organisations, were detained at Jantar Mantar for holding a demonstration in support of the farmers' stir on Friday. Those detained included students, lawyers and professors, including Prof Nandita Narain and Prof N Sachin. 

Sharp 61-85% fall in Tech startup funding in India's top 'business-friendly' States

By Rajiv Shah Funding in Tech startups in top business-friendly Indian states has witnessed a major fall, a data intelligence platform for private market research has said in a series of reports it has released this month. Analysing Tech startup data of Telangana, Maharashtra, Delhi NCR, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala, Tracxn Technologies Ltd , the Bengaluru-based research firm, finds that except for Kerala, funding witnessed a fall of anywhere between 61% and 85%.

Solar energy funding dips 9% in 2023; 2024 'kicks off' with US$1 billion investment

By Lakshmitha Raj*  Solar energy tech companies have already secured slightly over US$1 billion in funding in 2024 (till Feb 7, 2024) after total funding into Solar Energy companies in India fell 9% to US$1.55B in 2023 from US$1.7B in 2022. A total of 39 $100M+ rounds have been closed till date, with Delhi leading the city-wise funding, followed by Gurugram and Mumbai.

Maize, bajra, jute, banana cultivation banned off West Bengal border: Plea to NHRC

Counterview Desk  West Bengal-based human rights defender Kirity Roy, who is secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Manch, and is national convenor of the Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity, in a representation to the chairman, National Human Rights Commission, second within few days, has bought to light one more case of trespassing and destruction of a fertile banana plantation by BSF personnel along the Indo-Bangladesh border, stating, despite a written complaint to the police has taken "no initiative".

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

India second best place to invest, next to UAE, yet there is 'lacks support' for IT services

By Sreevas Sahasranamam, Aileen Ionescu-Somers*  The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the best place in the world to start a new business, according to the latest annual Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) survey. The Arab nation is number one for the third year in a row thanks to a big push by the government into cutting-edge technology in its efforts to diversify away from oil.

Mahanadi delta: Aggressive construction in flood plains, reduced fish stock, pollution

By Sudhansu R Das  Frequent natural calamities, unemployment, low farmers’ income, increase in crime rate and lack of quality human resources to strike a balance between growth and environment etc. continue to haunt the state. The state should delve into the root causes of poverty, unemployment and natural calamities.