Covid-19 relief: When India doesn’t count the poor as workers

The labour ministry’s focus is on registered construction workers and provident fund subscribers, excluding a vast majority of the working poor. On March 29, four days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that all establishments and public transport would be shut down to prevent the spread of coronavirus, Rashmi Ahirwar and her husband, Rakesh, picked up their bags and left. They planned to walk 570 km to their village in Tikamgarh, Madhya Pradesh, to survive the lockdown. But the Ahirwars were turned back by the Delhi police. They had to walk back to the construction site in Delhi University’s South … Continue reading Covid-19 relief: When India doesn’t count the poor as workers

Sticky post

Bhilwara: In India’s first district to go on lockdown, workers battle hunger and uncertainty

Bhilwara, a textiles and sandstone mining hub, in India’s west was one of the first districts to be locked down following fears of community transmission. This is a report with phone interviews with brick workers, textile factory workers, miners and farm workers. Continue reading Bhilwara: In India’s first district to go on lockdown, workers battle hunger and uncertainty

‘I stitched bags for big brands, but barely earned enough to eat’

On December 8, a fire started at dawn at a factory in Delhi, it engulfed over a hundred workers who slept inside the factory. Forty three workers, including children, asphyxiated to death, while 60 were seriously injured in the most devastating fire in Delhi in a decade. A five-storey residential building housed a factory which government officials said lacked a manufacturing permit as well as fire safety certification. It was, in other words, one of the thousands of illegal factories operating in Delhi. I had visited Anaj Mandi in December and this is how a middle class resident had explained … Continue reading ‘I stitched bags for big brands, but barely earned enough to eat’

Eleventh night under the sky, in Honda

Since November 5, Honda workers have occupied / de-occupied the factory. National newspapers have reported how it is a helpless situation for Honda which is facing economic stress or recession. Indian Express reported how the company had slowed down, less production, and these workers were contract workers doing irregular/unskilled/ ancillary work, loading or moving trolleys, packing etc. The workers have a different experience / lived experience / perspective on it. Of 2500 contract “casual” workers, 1500 are inside the plant, the rest are at the gate. Most have worked 10-12 years now at the same factory. For over a decade … Continue reading Eleventh night under the sky, in Honda

A story from Delhi’s industrial areas

Workers say they are unsure if this political system works for them, and no governments are directly able to respond to their issues. At 9 in the morning on Tuesday, instead of starting work at the assembly line, men stood in huddles outside several factories in Delhi’s Okhla industrial area. It was the first day of a two-day general strike called by 10 central trade unions, the largest industrial action planned just months before the Lok Sabha elections. In the last such action in September 2016, trade unions claimed 15 crore workers had taken part, including in industrial areas in … Continue reading A story from Delhi’s industrial areas

Radha Devi: Managing maladies in Bhuiantola

A path winding through paddy fields led to Bhuiantola, a hamlet where Bhuian Dalit families lived, on the outskirts of Tarwadih village in Jharkhand’s Latehar district. That month, eight individuals in Tarwadih were on treatment for tuberculosis(TB), a serious bacterial infection that most commonly affects the lungs. Four of them lived in Bhuiantola. The previous night, Radha Devi, the village sahiya or frontline health worker, an Accredited Social Health Activist(ASHA) had finished helping a woman delivery a baby in the hamlet. Now, walking down the paved path, she called out to Ramavtar Ram who was working in the fields. “Nine … Continue reading Radha Devi: Managing maladies in Bhuiantola

Reporting series on tuberculosis among workers

India has an enormous tuberculosis crisis, but the government still does not have an accurate estimate even of how many Indians suffer from the disease. A million cases are still not notified every year, and people remain undiagnosed, or inadequately diagnosed and struggle for accessing full treatment. While TB can be cured by a drug regimen of six months, the emergence and increase in antibiotics resistant TB is a concern. These stories trace the effects of economic and health policies in on workers with TB and their experiences with drug resistant TB: Stone-crushing workers in Ajmer suffer as the government’s … Continue reading Reporting series on tuberculosis among workers

A miner recounts

Every year, the mines slows down and stops at the onset of monsoon, and then resume after harvest. Right now, the stone pits are still full of green water from the rains.The work is on pause for everyone to return from home after Diwali. Many young men, a few women whose homes are nearby, who did not leave, sit around tea shops, and in the common spaces waiting. When they speak, they are not in the mood of a break or rest, as they wait for the full mine operation to start in another fifteen days. Over and over, they … Continue reading A miner recounts

The curious case of the alphabetically accused

On January 30, 2015, the Supreme Court while hearing a Special Leave Petition for bail for two jailed Maruti workers, Sunil Kumar and Kanwaljeet, gave the Haryana government two weeks to respond why the workers should not be granted bail. SC had on 17 February 2014 declined to hear the workers’ bail plea as eye-witnesses were still being examined. It asked the Haryana court to complete examine eye witnesses by April 2014, though the local court later missed this deadline. Below is a report from August 2014 on the legal case against a majority of the workers. The Hindu Manesar (Haryana): On … Continue reading The curious case of the alphabetically accused

Adivasis’ dangerous journey into the urban jungle

Last month two 14-year-old adivasi girls, who had migrated from Khunti district to work in Delhi as domestic help, were found dead in mysterious circumstances, both within two days of each other. On April 19, Jyoti Mariyam Hora died soon after she was brought to the Madan Mohan Malviya Hospital in Delhi’s Malviya Nagar. Two days later, Dayamani Guriya, who had studied with Jyoti till class VI and had migrated to Delhi with her, died in mysterious circumstances at the Ranchi railway station when she was being sent back to her village in Torpa in Khunti with police’s intervention. The … Continue reading Adivasis’ dangerous journey into the urban jungle

Thinking about Baran, December 2010

I got a chance to speak about my experience of reporting on bonded debt among Sahariya tribals in Baran in Rajasthan at May Diwas celebrations organized by Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) in Rajsamand district in May 2011. MKSS organizes a mela for May Day every year at Bhim in Rajsamand. 285 from Anumeha Yadav on Vimeo. Roughly translates to: I had first traveled to Kishanganj and Shahbad blocks in Baran in December 2010 after listening to 16 Sahariya agriculture workers at a MKSS dharna in Jaipur for minimum wages in MNREGA. They said they had been in bonded debt … Continue reading Thinking about Baran, December 2010

How to cheat workers of minimum wages

Delhi Metro workers losing crores in wages; allotted fake Provident Fund accounts by contractors Workers hired through multiple contractors by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) are denied their minimum wages by employers who have allotted fake Provident Fund and health insurance accounts to siphon off their money. Questioned about this, officials said that while they were aware of the workers’ complaints, they had not yet blacklisted any company, despite the fact that the Delhi Metro paid a share of the workers’ PF, which runs into crores, as part of contractors’ bills. The DMRC employs over 4,900 workers through more … Continue reading How to cheat workers of minimum wages