Interference of bureaucratic intermediaries, need for an ID and paperwork and complex processes of handing out food packages to local communities forced many workers to fend for themselves.
Deepanshu Mohan, Associate Professor of Economics and Director, Centre for New Economics Studies (CNES), Jindal School of Liberal Arts and Humanities, O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat, Haryana, India.
Jignesh Mistry, Senior Research Analyst, Centre for New Economics Studies, O. P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat, Haryana, India.
Advaita Singh, Senior Research Analyst, Centre for New Economics Studies, O. P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat, Haryana, India.
Snehal Sreedhar, Senior Research Analyst, Centre for New Economics Studies, O. P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat, Haryana, India.
Asked how the lockdown-induced economic crisis affected the lives-livelihoods of daily wage workers, Rajesh Singh, in his early 20s in Lucknow said, “Since the time of Covid and the lockdown, there has been a severe crisis of employment opportunities in local labor markets. Getting work for even two days in a week is excruciatingly difficult for us. Daily wages too, for any work possible, have dipped by half.”
The tale of Rajesh Singh, struggling to make ends meet for his own family, amidst dwindling prospects for work, reflects the nature and form of the catastrophe that has surfaced since the imposition a year ago of the curfew-style lockdown that sucked out employment opportunities for India’s daily workers in both the unorganised and organised segments.
In a three-month extensive field study undertaken by our research team at the Centre for New Economics Studies, OP Jindal Global University, we documented the stories of over 200 daily wage workers through a randomised survey in mazdoor mandis in Lucknow and Pune. We were aiming to understand the extent to which the economic crisis is affecting the workers’ daily work prospects, how it hurts their incomes, and how little or no state support has forced many to borrow extensively through informal channels to make their ends meet, leaving many highly indebted.
The reason for selecting cities of Lucknow and Pune for this field study was based on logistical ease, given how each of these cities – in their respective regions – attract the maximum amount of intra-state and inter-state migrant workers, and rely on them for most industrial, manufacturing (and construction) work.
Published in: Scroll.in
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