Skip to main content

Typical Delhi 'company' worker 'can't hope to earn' more than Rs 7,000 per month

By Bharat Dogra* 

Problems of working class colonies in Delhi get very little attention in the city’s media, but as recent visits to three such colonies revealed, these can be very serious. What is common to all these three colonies is that the earnings of most households do not allow them to have any savings as with great difficulty they can only manage the essential expenses.
Hence, any period of extended unemployment caused by illness, injury (including occupational injury which can be frequent), lockdown or pollution-related work closure can lead to hunger and/or indebtedness (also reverse migration to villages in the case of those workers who still have this option).
Construction and related workers (like plumbers, painters etc.) are very common here, and are often referred to as beldari workers. The daily wage for them is likely to be between Rs. 300 to Rs. 500, and employment is likely to be available in a normal month for 10 to 15 days. So the monthly earning for one worker is likely to be between Rs 5,000 to 7,000 in a normal month.
Petty contractors may earn higher. A two worker (typically husband and wife) family can earn Rs 12,000 or so, but at the cost of neglect of children. Or else wife may opt for domestic worker jobs in which there can be option of returning earlier but then this also means lesser earning. On the other hand there are also domestic workers (women) who leave in morning and return when it is getting dark, giving all their day to toil in 4 or 5 homes to earn Rs 9,000 to 10,000 in a month. In exceptional situations some may earn more.
Even industrial workers do not earn more than this. A typical worker doing ‘company’ work, to use the word frequently used by people, can hope to earn only around Rs 6,000 to Rs 7,000 or so, although the working hours may be more. Company people also insist often on employing only the younger workers.
From these earnings must be deducted the transport costs and other occupational expenses, including expenses incurred when they go looking for work without earning anything. People here while speaking about their low and stagnant wages would often break their conversation to talk about the increasing price of vegetables and other daily needs. The public distribution system is often a big help for people, but people add that the ration lasts only for about 15 days and for remaining days wheat must also be purchased at market rates.
If a family for some reason does not have a ration card, then survival becomes difficult. Often those families which live on rent are the ones who do not have ration cards. Having to pay rent and not having a ration card are the two worst things that can happen to you if you are struggling to survive these days here, people say. The precarious economics simply breaks down.
In Sector 27 Rohini resettlement colony for workers, sewer does exist but has not been activated
Despite the severe problems created by low and stagnant wages, when one talks about the top priorities people speak about other needs. People in Shahbad dairy A Block mentioned better toilets, drainage system and better safety. They said earlier water was a big problem but a few months back this has problem been sorted out. In Bawana JJ colony H Block they mentioned drinking water, sewer system, drains, toilets, safety and some check on open consumption of intoxicants (liquor and smack) as their biggest needs. 
In Sector 27 (Rohini) resettlement colony, people said that sewer exists but has not been activated and the old pipeline of water below this needs repairs, or else drinking water can be affected by sewage when the sewer line is put to use. Basically people need a new water pipeline as the old one is unlikely to be of much use for long. Here also safety is a big priority for people.
In fact people in all three colonies make a strong plea for improving safety, particularly safety of women. In worrying conditions people tend to be very tense regarding about safety of daughters in particular, one factor pushing for their early withdrawal from education. 
A woman took me aside as if to tell something in great confidence. What she had to say was that she is very deeply worried about her unmarried daughter and if somehow pension dues can be arranged, she can arrange an early marriage.
Several women workers return from work when it is already dark. So there should be proper street lighting and safety from bus-stop to settlement. The bus stop should be properly built like a shelter with proper lighting. At present during rains people get drenched just while waiting for bus. Bus service is free for women, something which is very welcome but sometimes drivers don’t stop the bus for them, some women complained.
*Honorary convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now. His books include “Planet in Peril”, “Man over Machine” and “Protecting Earth for Children”



Vaccine nationalism? Covaxin isn't safe either, perhaps it's worse: Experts

By Rajiv Shah  I was a little awestruck: The news had already spread that Astrazeneca – whose Indian variant Covishield was delivered to nearly 80% of Indian vaccine recipients during the Covid-19 era – has been withdrawn by the manufacturers following the admission by its UK pharma giant that its Covid-19 vector-based vaccine in “rare” instances cause TTS, or “thrombocytopenia thrombosis syndrome”, which lead to the blood to clump and form clots. The vaccine reportedly led to at least 81 deaths in the UK.

'Scientifically flawed': 22 examples of the failure of vaccine passports

By Vratesh Srivastava*   Vaccine passports were introduced in late 2021 in a number of places across the world, with the primary objective of curtailing community spread and inducing "vaccine hesitant" people to get vaccinated, ostensibly to ensure herd immunity. The case for vaccine passports was scientifically flawed and ethically questionable.

'Misleading' ads: Are our celebrities and public figures acting responsibly?

By Deepika* It is imperative for celebrities and public figures to act responsibly while endorsing a consumer product, the Supreme Court said as it recently clamped down on misleading advertisements.

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. 

US 'frustrated' with India’s discomfort: Maritime exercise in South China Sea

By Vijay Prashad*  In early April 2024, the navies of four countries -- Australia, Japan, the Philippines, and the United States -- held a maritime exercise in the South China Sea. Australia’s Warramunga, Japan’s Akebono, the Philippines’ Antonio Luna, and the United States’ Mobile worked together in these waters to strengthen their joint abilities and -- as they said in a joint statement  -- to “uphold the right to freedom of navigation and overflight and respect for maritime rights under international law.” 

Magnetic, stunning, Protima Bedi 'exposed' malice of sexual repression in society

By Harsh Thakor*  Protima Bedi was born to a baniya businessman and a Bengali mother as Protima Gupta in Delhi in 1949. Her father was a small-time trader, who was thrown out of his family for marrying a dark Bengali women. The theme of her early life was to rebel against traditional bondage. It was extraordinary how Protima underwent a metamorphosis from a conventional convent-educated girl into a freak. On October 12th was her 75th birthday; earlier this year, on August 18th it was her 25th death anniversary.

Palm oil industry 'deceptively using' geenwashing to market products

By Athena*  Corporate hypocrisy is a masterclass in manipulation that mostly remains undetected by consumers and citizens. Companies often boast about their environmental and social responsibilities. Yet their actions betray these promises, creating a chasm between their public image and the grim on-the-ground reality. This duplicity and severely erodes public trust and undermines the strong foundations of our society.

India 'not keen' on legally binding global treaty to reduce plastic production

By Rajiv Shah  Even as offering lip-service to the United Nations Environment Agency (UNEA) for the need to curb plastic production, the Government of India appears reluctant in reducing the production of plastic. A senior participant at the UNEP’s fourth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-4), which took place in Ottawa in April last week, told a plastics pollution seminar that India, along with China and Russia, did not want any legally binding agreement for curbing plastic pollution.

No compensation to family, reluctance to file FIR: Manual scavengers' death

By Arun Khote, Sanjeev Kumar*  Recently, there have been four instances of horrifying deaths of sewer/septic tank workers in Uttar Pradesh. On 2 May, 2024, Shobran Yadav, 56, and his son Sushil Yadav, 28, died from suffocation while cleaning a sewer line in Lucknow’s Wazirganj area. In another incident on 3 May 2024, two workers Nooni Mandal, 36 and Kokan Mandal aka Tapan Mandal, 40 were killed while cleaning the septic tank in a house in Noida, Sector 26. The two workers were residents of Malda district of West Bengal and lived in the slum area of Noida Sector 9. 

'Fake encounter': 12 Adivasis killed being dubbed Maoists, says FACAM

Counterview Desk   The civil rights network* Forum Against Corporatization and Militarization (FACAM), even as condemn what it has called "fake encounter" of 12 Adivasi villagers in Gangaloor, has taken strong exception to they being presented by the authorities as Maoists.