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Death by excreta: The cursed lives of India's manual scavengers

Deaths of sanitation workers continue even as governments claim (sic) that they have no person involved in manual scavenging

15 Feb 2020

manual Scavengers

“In India, a man is not a scavenger because of his work. He is a scavenger because of his birth irrespective of the question whether he does scavenging or not.”
Dr B.R. Ambedkar

In a report released recently by the ‘Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan’[1], Gujarat reported 62 deaths of manual scavengers, followed by Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh reporting 29 deaths each. Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu followed this ignominious record, reporting 24 deaths each. These figures are in stark contradiction with the state-wise data released by National Commission for Safai Karamcharis (NCSK), a statutory body set up by an Act of Parliament for the welfare of sanitation workers.

At the same time, an NGO working for the welfare of manual scavengers and eradication of the practice of manual scavenging - Safai Karmachari Andolan[2] - says that 429 deaths from it occurred in Delhi alone from 2016 to 2018. The reports of the NGO say that nearly 2,000 manual scavengers die every year in the sewers, due to exposure to poisonous gases. If the deaths that occur in septic tanks are included, then the number would be even higher.

And in the face of all of this, many state governments in India maintain that they do not have a single person engaged in manual scavenging. With almost all states having tens of thousands of dry latrines, it is impossible to believe the data ‘officially’ given by the States.

The skewed statistics presented by the State seem only the tip of the iceberg if one tries to gauge the apathy, ignorance and impunity with which it lets the lives of the most vulnerable of its citizens choke to death inside poisonous gas chambers.

The Report released by Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan brings out numerous painful observations and ground realities. The report presents statistics based on interviews and surveys which makes its observations credible and resourceful.

Their findings are as follows:

  • The present study identified a total 140 incidents and 302 deaths from 1992 to 2018. Out of 140 incidents a total of 51 incidents were covered by the study in which 97 deaths were reported.

  • According to NCSK’s data, Tamil Nadu reported highest number of deaths (194) followed by Gujarat (122), Karnataka (68) and Uttar Pradesh (51). In our report, Gujarat reported 62 deaths followed by Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh reporting 29 deaths each and Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu reporting 24 deaths   each.

  • Out of the total case interview, in 35% of the incidents the FIR was filed whereas in 59% of the incidents FIR were not filed and in 6% of incidents respondents do not know if FIR had been filed. In the total number of cases where the FIR had been filed (18 cases), the research team was able to furnish copies of the FIR for 13 cases during the investigation.

  • Legal Proceedings:

  1. In the FIRs, section 304 and 304 A of  IPC was charged 77% cases (10 cases  out of 13 cases where FIR was filed and furnished), which is related to death caused due to negligence and for the remaining 3 cases out of 13 cases  where the FIR was filed and furnished, sections 174 of IPC  (Non-  attendance in obedience to an order from public servant) and 284 (Negligent conduct with respect to a poisonous substance) and 7 and 9   of the MS Act 2013 had been charged. But, not in a single case except in that of Bengaluru, the arrest of the employers or the contractors was made. In cases where the FIR had not been filed, the reasons cited by the family were that of compromises being made, pressure and intimidation faced and at times, they have been threatened that they would lose their current jobs.

  2. In the 51 cases interviewed, prosecution did not happen in any of the cases.

  • Compensation: On March 27, 2014, Honorable Supreme Court of India, in a landmark judgment, declared that a person being made/forced to enter into a manhole or septic tank would be considered as a crime even in an emergency situation and in case of death of the person, a compensation of Rs. 10 lakhs would be awarded to the family of the deceased. The judgment also directed states to undergo a survey to identify incidents of deaths from 1993. This research reports that out of a total of 51 incidents, only in 31% of the cases compensation was awarded to the families of the deceased whereas in the remaining 69% of the incident’s compensation was not awarded. It is important to note that in many of the cases where relief amount has been given to the families of the deceased by the employers/contractors, it was underlined with the intention to dispose the cases. Total 48 families out of 95 families in 16 incidents were awarded compensation.

  • Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment also reported 172 deaths in the year 2016 and 323 deaths in the year 2017.

  • During the time this study (January to July 2018) was being undertaken, 46 deaths were reported from states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Jharkhand and Tamil Nadu. Every 4-day one death cases are reported in last six months.

  • Of the 51 incidents across 11 states that the team investigated, a total number of 70 workers survived minor to fatal injuries.

  • Rehabilitation:

  1. The survey was also aimed at ascertaining implementation of the Self- employment scheme for Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers (SRMS) and Pre-Matric Scholarship for the children whose parents are involved in occupation involving cleaning and health hazard.

  2. Not a single family whose members have died while cleaning the septic tank or the sewer received their due rights mentioned in the SRMS scheme. Not a single family was rehabilitated in alternative job, on the contrary; the deceased families have had to start engaging in manual scavenging as there was no alternate job available for their sustenance.

  1. The same goes for the pre-Matric scholarship also. Not a single child of the families who are involved in this hazardous and demeaning practice have received the scholarship for their children. As the pre-Matric scholarship is demand driven, not a single state has raised their demand for the scholarship in the year 2014-15 to 2018. Same goes for the year 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18 except for Gujarat in the year 2015-16 and Maharashtra in the year 2016-17.

  • The highest death rate of 37% was recorded in the age group of 15-25 followed by 35% and 23% in the age group of 25-35 and 35-45 respectively.

  • 67% of the total deceased were married. Valmiki, Arunthutiyar, Dom, Mehtar, Rukhi, Kumbhar, Matang, Meghwal, Chambar, Rai Sikh and Hela are the communities engaged in cleaning and sanitation related work in the different states covered by the research.

  • 94% of the families of the deceased belong to the Scheduled Caste category, 4% to   the Other Backward Classes and 2% to the Scheduled Tribe.

  • Out of the 94% Scheduled Castes families of the deceased, 65% of the families’ interviewed belong to the Valmiki caste, a group pushed to engage in sanitation and cleaning related work mostly in the northern parts of the country.

  • 49% of the deceased were found to have studied below the 10th standard whereas another 45% were uneducated.[3]

 

Human Rights Watch also found some instances in which women and men from the Valmiki caste are engaged by urban municipal corporations, both directly by the government and through contractors, to manually clean excrement.

 A municipal corporation worker, who has worked as a safai karmachari, or sanitation worker, for the Bharatpur municipal corporation since 2004 explained her work:

 I clean my area, these two lanes. I clean twice a day because it is so dirty. I sweep the roads and I clean the drains. It is extremely dirty because the houses here flush the excrement from the toilets directly into the drains. I have to pick out the excreta, along with any garbage from the drains. I have to do it. If I do not, I will lose my job. Some women said they faced threats of violence when they refused to practice manual scavenging.

 In November 2012, when Gangashri along with 12 other women in Parigama village in Uttar Pradesh’s Mainpuri district voluntarily stopped cleaning dry toilets, men from the dominant Thakur caste came to their homes and threatened to deny them grazing rights and expel them from the village. Despite these threats, the women refused to return to manual scavenging. Soon after, some 20 to 30 upper caste men from Parigama confronted the community.

Gangashri recalls: They called our men and said “If you don’t start sending your women to clean our toilets, we will beat them up. We will beat you up.” They said, “We will not let you live in peace.” We were afraid.

Such threats have been particularly effective in binding communities to manual scavenging because the affected communities face extreme difficulty in securing police protection. They are especially vulnerable to police refusal to register complaints due to caste bias by police and local government officials.[4]

NCSK Report points out that “The manual scavengers, who are mainly women, are doing this unhygienic work to earn their livelihood, but in most of the cases, even now, they are paid in kind after six months or so without getting any wages on regular basis. (10Kg grains to one family or even one or two basi roties – District Ghaziabad, Meerut etc.)[5]

This translates that they earn only about Rs.300 a month in the form of grain and do not get any cash. Even in this day and time no thought has been given as to from where expenditure for their other needs will come from? In other cases where monthly wages are paid for such a lowly and inhuman work to the manual scavenger these are as low as Rs.One per day (wages range from Rs.15 – 25 a month per family).”

The Commission has found during its tours that dozens of deaths are occurring in almost all the States which are covered up by the administrative machinery, urban local bodies and these deaths remain unreported and non-compensated most of the time. No remedial measures are taken at District, State or Central level even when these deaths of safai karamcharis are reported in national newspapers. They are usually hired on daily wages through a contractor. These safai karamcharis are neither trained to do the job nor provided with any equipment, what to say of life saving paraphernalia. The person, here, has to enter into the sewer/drain, without any mask or equipment and remains within it till he cleans it manually or is killed by the poisonous gases.

In December, 2003 the Safai Karamchari Andolan along with six other civil society organizations as well as seven individuals belonging to the community of manual scavengers filed a writ petition before the Supreme Court under Article 32 of the Constitution on the ground that the continuation of the practice of manual scavenging as well as of dry latrines is illegal and unconstitutional since it violates the fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 14, 17, 21 and 23 of the Constitution of India and the1993 Act.

Based on the data submitted by the petitioner, the court observed on 27 March, 2014 that

The aforesaid data collected by the petitioners makes it abundantly clear that the practice of manual scavenging continues unabated. Dry latrines continue to exist notwithstanding the fact that the 1993 Act was in force for nearly two decades. States have acted in denial of the 1993 Act and the constitutional mandate to abolish untouchability.

 For over a decade, this Court issued various directions and sought for compliance from all the States and Union Territories. Due to effective intervention and directions of this Court, the Government of India brought an Act called The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 for abolition of this evil and for the welfare of manual scavengers. The Act got the assent of the President on 18.09.2013. The enactment of the aforesaid Act, in no way, neither dilutes the constitutional mandate of Article 17 nor does it condone the inaction on the part of Union and State Governments under the 1993 Act.

 What the 2013 Act does in addition is to expressly acknowledge Article 17 and Article 21 rights of the persons engaged in sewage cleaning and cleaning tanks as well persons cleaning human excreta on railway tracks.”

Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and Their Rehabilitation Act (PEMSR) was passed by both the Houses of Parliament on September 7, 2013. The PEMSR Act,
2013 received assent of the President on September 18, 2013 and subsequently published in the Gazette of India on September 19, 2013.

· The Act prohibits the employment of manual scavengers, the manual cleaning of sewers and septic tanks without protective equipment, and the construction of insanitary latrines.[6]

· Its main objectives are:

i. Prohibition of employment as manual scavengers;

ii. Rehabilitation of manual scavengers.


· The Act recognizes the link between manual scavengers and weaker sections of the society. It therefore, views manual scavenging as being violative of their right to dignity.

· Under the Act, each local authority, cantonment board and railway authority is responsible for surveying insanitary latrines within its jurisdiction. They shall also construct a number of sanitary community latrines.

· Each occupier of insanitary latrines shall be responsible for converting or demolishing the latrine at his own cost. If he fails to do so, the local authority shall convert the
latrine and recover the cost from him.

· The district magistrate and the local authority shall be the implementing authorities. · Offences under the Bill shall be cognizable and non-bailable, and may be tried
summarily.


· It provides for detailed vigilance mechanism and monitoring committee at district, state and central level.

· The Act specifically provides for carrying out surveys for identifying persons employed as manual scavengers.

 

Some of the suggestions from the Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan Report are as follows:

Prevention:

  • Technology induced intervention

  • Training of the workers and Sanitation Inspector

  • Proper awareness and sensitization of the authorities

 

Rehabilitation:

  • Providing relief certificate

  • Ensure compensation for the families

  • Comprehensive Rehabilitation of the families

  • Coverage of worker who has met the fatal injuries

  • Scholarship for the children

 

Prosecution:

  • The Police to register FIR along with invoking appropriate sections of the MS Act 2013 and The POA Act 1989.

  • Penalizing the implementing the agency: the authorities must be held accountable and responsible for the deaths and must be penalized, as per MS Act 2013 and recent amendment of POA Act in relation to manual scavengers

 

Standard operating Procedures (SOP):

  • Standard operating Procedures for sewer and septic tank cleaners


Inspite of all safeguards are legislative provisions, the humanly degrading practice of manual scavenging is rampant. The primary reason for it seems to be the fact that the ost vulnerable amongst the vulnerable groups are engaged in this practice, ie, majorly Dalits of Valmiki caste, and a significant number of them being women.

It thus becomes an easy task to hush them up by various means: violent threats, fear of unemployment, token payment and in other cases, washing their feet and declaring their job to be a “spiritual experience”, right after cutting their rehabilitation funds by half. [7]

While there exists penal provisions and fines for employing anyone to clean septic tanks, under the Government’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan 2 crore new toilets were built but they did not come with the better infrastructure or design than traditional toilets and have added on to the misery of the manual scavengers. Many newly built toilets in urban households are spawning more septic tanks and sewers, thereby continuing the practice of employing manual scavengers to clean them.

It will take much more than lip service and feet washing for us to realise that the our society has been committing millions of its least empowered people to death in order to maintain our so called ‘hygiene’ with their blood.

 


[1] The “Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan” (National Campaign for Dignity) launched by Jan Sahas in 2001 has proven to be a very innovative and effective program to end manual scavenging. The Abhiyan has liberated 31,828 manual scavengers in Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan.

[2] Safai Karmachari Andolan (SKA), is an Indian human rights organization that has been campaigning for the eradication of manual scavenging, the construction, operation and employment of manual scavengers which has been illegal in India since 1993.

[3] Report by Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan,  “Justice Denied: Death of workers engaged in manual scavenging while cleaning the Septic tank or Sewer”.

[4] Cleaning Human Waste “Manual Scavenging,” Caste, and Discrimination in India: Human Rights Watch Report (2014)

[5] National Commission for Safai Karamcharis, Annual Report 2005-2006 & 2006-2007 (Combined)

[6]Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and Their Rehabilitation Act, 2013, s. 5.

[7]The Telegraph India, “Why it won’t wash Prime Minister” (https://www.telegraphindia.com/india/why-it-wont-wash-prime-minister/cid/1685582).

Death by excreta: The cursed lives of India's manual scavengers

Deaths of sanitation workers continue even as governments claim (sic) that they have no person involved in manual scavenging

manual Scavengers

“In India, a man is not a scavenger because of his work. He is a scavenger because of his birth irrespective of the question whether he does scavenging or not.”
Dr B.R. Ambedkar

In a report released recently by the ‘Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan’[1], Gujarat reported 62 deaths of manual scavengers, followed by Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh reporting 29 deaths each. Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu followed this ignominious record, reporting 24 deaths each. These figures are in stark contradiction with the state-wise data released by National Commission for Safai Karamcharis (NCSK), a statutory body set up by an Act of Parliament for the welfare of sanitation workers.

At the same time, an NGO working for the welfare of manual scavengers and eradication of the practice of manual scavenging - Safai Karmachari Andolan[2] - says that 429 deaths from it occurred in Delhi alone from 2016 to 2018. The reports of the NGO say that nearly 2,000 manual scavengers die every year in the sewers, due to exposure to poisonous gases. If the deaths that occur in septic tanks are included, then the number would be even higher.

And in the face of all of this, many state governments in India maintain that they do not have a single person engaged in manual scavenging. With almost all states having tens of thousands of dry latrines, it is impossible to believe the data ‘officially’ given by the States.

The skewed statistics presented by the State seem only the tip of the iceberg if one tries to gauge the apathy, ignorance and impunity with which it lets the lives of the most vulnerable of its citizens choke to death inside poisonous gas chambers.

The Report released by Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan brings out numerous painful observations and ground realities. The report presents statistics based on interviews and surveys which makes its observations credible and resourceful.

Their findings are as follows:

  • The present study identified a total 140 incidents and 302 deaths from 1992 to 2018. Out of 140 incidents a total of 51 incidents were covered by the study in which 97 deaths were reported.

  • According to NCSK’s data, Tamil Nadu reported highest number of deaths (194) followed by Gujarat (122), Karnataka (68) and Uttar Pradesh (51). In our report, Gujarat reported 62 deaths followed by Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh reporting 29 deaths each and Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu reporting 24 deaths   each.

  • Out of the total case interview, in 35% of the incidents the FIR was filed whereas in 59% of the incidents FIR were not filed and in 6% of incidents respondents do not know if FIR had been filed. In the total number of cases where the FIR had been filed (18 cases), the research team was able to furnish copies of the FIR for 13 cases during the investigation.

  • Legal Proceedings:

  1. In the FIRs, section 304 and 304 A of  IPC was charged 77% cases (10 cases  out of 13 cases where FIR was filed and furnished), which is related to death caused due to negligence and for the remaining 3 cases out of 13 cases  where the FIR was filed and furnished, sections 174 of IPC  (Non-  attendance in obedience to an order from public servant) and 284 (Negligent conduct with respect to a poisonous substance) and 7 and 9   of the MS Act 2013 had been charged. But, not in a single case except in that of Bengaluru, the arrest of the employers or the contractors was made. In cases where the FIR had not been filed, the reasons cited by the family were that of compromises being made, pressure and intimidation faced and at times, they have been threatened that they would lose their current jobs.

  2. In the 51 cases interviewed, prosecution did not happen in any of the cases.

  • Compensation: On March 27, 2014, Honorable Supreme Court of India, in a landmark judgment, declared that a person being made/forced to enter into a manhole or septic tank would be considered as a crime even in an emergency situation and in case of death of the person, a compensation of Rs. 10 lakhs would be awarded to the family of the deceased. The judgment also directed states to undergo a survey to identify incidents of deaths from 1993. This research reports that out of a total of 51 incidents, only in 31% of the cases compensation was awarded to the families of the deceased whereas in the remaining 69% of the incident’s compensation was not awarded. It is important to note that in many of the cases where relief amount has been given to the families of the deceased by the employers/contractors, it was underlined with the intention to dispose the cases. Total 48 families out of 95 families in 16 incidents were awarded compensation.

  • Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment also reported 172 deaths in the year 2016 and 323 deaths in the year 2017.

  • During the time this study (January to July 2018) was being undertaken, 46 deaths were reported from states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Jharkhand and Tamil Nadu. Every 4-day one death cases are reported in last six months.

  • Of the 51 incidents across 11 states that the team investigated, a total number of 70 workers survived minor to fatal injuries.

  • Rehabilitation:

  1. The survey was also aimed at ascertaining implementation of the Self- employment scheme for Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers (SRMS) and Pre-Matric Scholarship for the children whose parents are involved in occupation involving cleaning and health hazard.

  2. Not a single family whose members have died while cleaning the septic tank or the sewer received their due rights mentioned in the SRMS scheme. Not a single family was rehabilitated in alternative job, on the contrary; the deceased families have had to start engaging in manual scavenging as there was no alternate job available for their sustenance.

  1. The same goes for the pre-Matric scholarship also. Not a single child of the families who are involved in this hazardous and demeaning practice have received the scholarship for their children. As the pre-Matric scholarship is demand driven, not a single state has raised their demand for the scholarship in the year 2014-15 to 2018. Same goes for the year 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18 except for Gujarat in the year 2015-16 and Maharashtra in the year 2016-17.

  • The highest death rate of 37% was recorded in the age group of 15-25 followed by 35% and 23% in the age group of 25-35 and 35-45 respectively.

  • 67% of the total deceased were married. Valmiki, Arunthutiyar, Dom, Mehtar, Rukhi, Kumbhar, Matang, Meghwal, Chambar, Rai Sikh and Hela are the communities engaged in cleaning and sanitation related work in the different states covered by the research.

  • 94% of the families of the deceased belong to the Scheduled Caste category, 4% to   the Other Backward Classes and 2% to the Scheduled Tribe.

  • Out of the 94% Scheduled Castes families of the deceased, 65% of the families’ interviewed belong to the Valmiki caste, a group pushed to engage in sanitation and cleaning related work mostly in the northern parts of the country.

  • 49% of the deceased were found to have studied below the 10th standard whereas another 45% were uneducated.[3]

 

Human Rights Watch also found some instances in which women and men from the Valmiki caste are engaged by urban municipal corporations, both directly by the government and through contractors, to manually clean excrement.

 A municipal corporation worker, who has worked as a safai karmachari, or sanitation worker, for the Bharatpur municipal corporation since 2004 explained her work:

 I clean my area, these two lanes. I clean twice a day because it is so dirty. I sweep the roads and I clean the drains. It is extremely dirty because the houses here flush the excrement from the toilets directly into the drains. I have to pick out the excreta, along with any garbage from the drains. I have to do it. If I do not, I will lose my job. Some women said they faced threats of violence when they refused to practice manual scavenging.

 In November 2012, when Gangashri along with 12 other women in Parigama village in Uttar Pradesh’s Mainpuri district voluntarily stopped cleaning dry toilets, men from the dominant Thakur caste came to their homes and threatened to deny them grazing rights and expel them from the village. Despite these threats, the women refused to return to manual scavenging. Soon after, some 20 to 30 upper caste men from Parigama confronted the community.

Gangashri recalls: They called our men and said “If you don’t start sending your women to clean our toilets, we will beat them up. We will beat you up.” They said, “We will not let you live in peace.” We were afraid.

Such threats have been particularly effective in binding communities to manual scavenging because the affected communities face extreme difficulty in securing police protection. They are especially vulnerable to police refusal to register complaints due to caste bias by police and local government officials.[4]

NCSK Report points out that “The manual scavengers, who are mainly women, are doing this unhygienic work to earn their livelihood, but in most of the cases, even now, they are paid in kind after six months or so without getting any wages on regular basis. (10Kg grains to one family or even one or two basi roties – District Ghaziabad, Meerut etc.)[5]

This translates that they earn only about Rs.300 a month in the form of grain and do not get any cash. Even in this day and time no thought has been given as to from where expenditure for their other needs will come from? In other cases where monthly wages are paid for such a lowly and inhuman work to the manual scavenger these are as low as Rs.One per day (wages range from Rs.15 – 25 a month per family).”

The Commission has found during its tours that dozens of deaths are occurring in almost all the States which are covered up by the administrative machinery, urban local bodies and these deaths remain unreported and non-compensated most of the time. No remedial measures are taken at District, State or Central level even when these deaths of safai karamcharis are reported in national newspapers. They are usually hired on daily wages through a contractor. These safai karamcharis are neither trained to do the job nor provided with any equipment, what to say of life saving paraphernalia. The person, here, has to enter into the sewer/drain, without any mask or equipment and remains within it till he cleans it manually or is killed by the poisonous gases.

In December, 2003 the Safai Karamchari Andolan along with six other civil society organizations as well as seven individuals belonging to the community of manual scavengers filed a writ petition before the Supreme Court under Article 32 of the Constitution on the ground that the continuation of the practice of manual scavenging as well as of dry latrines is illegal and unconstitutional since it violates the fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 14, 17, 21 and 23 of the Constitution of India and the1993 Act.

Based on the data submitted by the petitioner, the court observed on 27 March, 2014 that

The aforesaid data collected by the petitioners makes it abundantly clear that the practice of manual scavenging continues unabated. Dry latrines continue to exist notwithstanding the fact that the 1993 Act was in force for nearly two decades. States have acted in denial of the 1993 Act and the constitutional mandate to abolish untouchability.

 For over a decade, this Court issued various directions and sought for compliance from all the States and Union Territories. Due to effective intervention and directions of this Court, the Government of India brought an Act called The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 for abolition of this evil and for the welfare of manual scavengers. The Act got the assent of the President on 18.09.2013. The enactment of the aforesaid Act, in no way, neither dilutes the constitutional mandate of Article 17 nor does it condone the inaction on the part of Union and State Governments under the 1993 Act.

 What the 2013 Act does in addition is to expressly acknowledge Article 17 and Article 21 rights of the persons engaged in sewage cleaning and cleaning tanks as well persons cleaning human excreta on railway tracks.”

Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and Their Rehabilitation Act (PEMSR) was passed by both the Houses of Parliament on September 7, 2013. The PEMSR Act,
2013 received assent of the President on September 18, 2013 and subsequently published in the Gazette of India on September 19, 2013.

· The Act prohibits the employment of manual scavengers, the manual cleaning of sewers and septic tanks without protective equipment, and the construction of insanitary latrines.[6]

· Its main objectives are:

i. Prohibition of employment as manual scavengers;

ii. Rehabilitation of manual scavengers.


· The Act recognizes the link between manual scavengers and weaker sections of the society. It therefore, views manual scavenging as being violative of their right to dignity.

· Under the Act, each local authority, cantonment board and railway authority is responsible for surveying insanitary latrines within its jurisdiction. They shall also construct a number of sanitary community latrines.

· Each occupier of insanitary latrines shall be responsible for converting or demolishing the latrine at his own cost. If he fails to do so, the local authority shall convert the
latrine and recover the cost from him.

· The district magistrate and the local authority shall be the implementing authorities. · Offences under the Bill shall be cognizable and non-bailable, and may be tried
summarily.


· It provides for detailed vigilance mechanism and monitoring committee at district, state and central level.

· The Act specifically provides for carrying out surveys for identifying persons employed as manual scavengers.

 

Some of the suggestions from the Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan Report are as follows:

Prevention:

  • Technology induced intervention

  • Training of the workers and Sanitation Inspector

  • Proper awareness and sensitization of the authorities

 

Rehabilitation:

  • Providing relief certificate

  • Ensure compensation for the families

  • Comprehensive Rehabilitation of the families

  • Coverage of worker who has met the fatal injuries

  • Scholarship for the children

 

Prosecution:

  • The Police to register FIR along with invoking appropriate sections of the MS Act 2013 and The POA Act 1989.

  • Penalizing the implementing the agency: the authorities must be held accountable and responsible for the deaths and must be penalized, as per MS Act 2013 and recent amendment of POA Act in relation to manual scavengers

 

Standard operating Procedures (SOP):

  • Standard operating Procedures for sewer and septic tank cleaners


Inspite of all safeguards are legislative provisions, the humanly degrading practice of manual scavenging is rampant. The primary reason for it seems to be the fact that the ost vulnerable amongst the vulnerable groups are engaged in this practice, ie, majorly Dalits of Valmiki caste, and a significant number of them being women.

It thus becomes an easy task to hush them up by various means: violent threats, fear of unemployment, token payment and in other cases, washing their feet and declaring their job to be a “spiritual experience”, right after cutting their rehabilitation funds by half. [7]

While there exists penal provisions and fines for employing anyone to clean septic tanks, under the Government’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan 2 crore new toilets were built but they did not come with the better infrastructure or design than traditional toilets and have added on to the misery of the manual scavengers. Many newly built toilets in urban households are spawning more septic tanks and sewers, thereby continuing the practice of employing manual scavengers to clean them.

It will take much more than lip service and feet washing for us to realise that the our society has been committing millions of its least empowered people to death in order to maintain our so called ‘hygiene’ with their blood.

 


[1] The “Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan” (National Campaign for Dignity) launched by Jan Sahas in 2001 has proven to be a very innovative and effective program to end manual scavenging. The Abhiyan has liberated 31,828 manual scavengers in Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan.

[2] Safai Karmachari Andolan (SKA), is an Indian human rights organization that has been campaigning for the eradication of manual scavenging, the construction, operation and employment of manual scavengers which has been illegal in India since 1993.

[3] Report by Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan,  “Justice Denied: Death of workers engaged in manual scavenging while cleaning the Septic tank or Sewer”.

[4] Cleaning Human Waste “Manual Scavenging,” Caste, and Discrimination in India: Human Rights Watch Report (2014)

[5] National Commission for Safai Karamcharis, Annual Report 2005-2006 & 2006-2007 (Combined)

[6]Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and Their Rehabilitation Act, 2013, s. 5.

[7]The Telegraph India, “Why it won’t wash Prime Minister” (https://www.telegraphindia.com/india/why-it-wont-wash-prime-minister/cid/1685582).

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25 Jan 2020

Kailash VijayvargiyaImage Courtesy: indiatoday.in

BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya became the laughing stock of the nation when he remarked that he suspected some of the labourers conducting repair work in his house were Bangladeshi because they ate poha, a snack made from puffed rice.

NDTV quoted Vijayvargiya saying, "There is some construction work going on at home. Outside, I saw some six-seven labourers sitting with one thali piled up with a huge amount of poha -- maybe 10 plates -- and eating. I asked, why are you eating poha? They did not answer because they could not speak Hindi. Then one man said they are Bengalis. I suspected something. I asked why they had been hired here. The answer was, they are cheap labour."

Poha is a beloved snack in different parts of India including Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka.

Shockingly, Vijayvargiya made the statement in Indore, a city known for its Poha pride. Twitter swung into action to educate the ignorant politician. Hashtags like #PohaTwitter and #PohaOnMyPlate started trending. Sample this salvo by proud poha-loving Indoris:

https://twitter.com/Banoliyaa/status/1220786992553709568

https://twitter.com/madhavmantri/status/1220708817689882626  

And here’s more:

https://twitter.com/reshma_alam9/status/1220666939241947137  

https://twitter.com/GDnarbhakshi/status/1220733083823099905

https://twitter.com/TXingh/status/1220771305777057792

https://twitter.com/Devil1nDetail/status/1220898082084159488

Vijayvargiya may have been lampooned by poha-loving Indians, but his anti-Bangladeshi stand cannot be ignored in the present political climate. With the burgeoning movement against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), the National Population Register (NPR) and the recently concluded National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam, there is a strong united voice emerging against divisive forces of the ruling regime.

However, of late, there has been an increase in instances of people being harassed after being accused of being Bangladeshi. Recently, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike demolished huts of alleged Bangladeshi immigrants in the Kariyammana Agrahara area. The residents of the impoverished shanty-town were mostly daily wage earners. Social media videos had claimed that illegal Bangladeshi immigrants were sheltered in the settlement. The video of the demolition was also shared on Twitter by Mahadevpura’s BJP MLA Aravind Limbavali where he too reiterated the stance alleging that the residents were illegal Bangladeshi immigrants.

But, upon investigation, it was revealed that most residents of the settlement were from different parts of the country, including Assam, Bihar, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and even north Karnataka. The High Court has stayed the demolition for now, though many residents have been forced to go back to their home states.

Earlier in October 2019, 29 men, 22 women and nine girls were picked up during a raid in Marathahalli, Bellandur and Ramamurthy Nagar areas of Bangalore. The people detained were mostly daily wage workers earning their living as construction labourers, garbage collectors and doing menial jobs under contractors. Some of them are also employed by the contractors of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP). In November, 59 of them were transported to West Bengal for eventual repatriation with Bangladesh.

Twitter makes BJP leader eat humble Poha!

Kailash Vijayvargiya trolled after he claims people who eat poha are Bangladeshi

Kailash VijayvargiyaImage Courtesy: indiatoday.in

BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya became the laughing stock of the nation when he remarked that he suspected some of the labourers conducting repair work in his house were Bangladeshi because they ate poha, a snack made from puffed rice.

NDTV quoted Vijayvargiya saying, "There is some construction work going on at home. Outside, I saw some six-seven labourers sitting with one thali piled up with a huge amount of poha -- maybe 10 plates -- and eating. I asked, why are you eating poha? They did not answer because they could not speak Hindi. Then one man said they are Bengalis. I suspected something. I asked why they had been hired here. The answer was, they are cheap labour."

Poha is a beloved snack in different parts of India including Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka.

Shockingly, Vijayvargiya made the statement in Indore, a city known for its Poha pride. Twitter swung into action to educate the ignorant politician. Hashtags like #PohaTwitter and #PohaOnMyPlate started trending. Sample this salvo by proud poha-loving Indoris:

https://twitter.com/Banoliyaa/status/1220786992553709568

https://twitter.com/madhavmantri/status/1220708817689882626  

And here’s more:

https://twitter.com/reshma_alam9/status/1220666939241947137  

https://twitter.com/GDnarbhakshi/status/1220733083823099905

https://twitter.com/TXingh/status/1220771305777057792

https://twitter.com/Devil1nDetail/status/1220898082084159488

Vijayvargiya may have been lampooned by poha-loving Indians, but his anti-Bangladeshi stand cannot be ignored in the present political climate. With the burgeoning movement against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), the National Population Register (NPR) and the recently concluded National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam, there is a strong united voice emerging against divisive forces of the ruling regime.

However, of late, there has been an increase in instances of people being harassed after being accused of being Bangladeshi. Recently, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike demolished huts of alleged Bangladeshi immigrants in the Kariyammana Agrahara area. The residents of the impoverished shanty-town were mostly daily wage earners. Social media videos had claimed that illegal Bangladeshi immigrants were sheltered in the settlement. The video of the demolition was also shared on Twitter by Mahadevpura’s BJP MLA Aravind Limbavali where he too reiterated the stance alleging that the residents were illegal Bangladeshi immigrants.

But, upon investigation, it was revealed that most residents of the settlement were from different parts of the country, including Assam, Bihar, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and even north Karnataka. The High Court has stayed the demolition for now, though many residents have been forced to go back to their home states.

Earlier in October 2019, 29 men, 22 women and nine girls were picked up during a raid in Marathahalli, Bellandur and Ramamurthy Nagar areas of Bangalore. The people detained were mostly daily wage workers earning their living as construction labourers, garbage collectors and doing menial jobs under contractors. Some of them are also employed by the contractors of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP). In November, 59 of them were transported to West Bengal for eventual repatriation with Bangladesh.

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‘Killing Dissent’ – How the government has been silencing opposing ideas and voices

From scare tactics to brute force, the government has done all it can to quell dissenting voices in India

09 Jan 2020

WagesImage Courtesy: deccanherald.com

Clad in pink sarees and taking to the streets of Karnataka in thousands, Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA workers) left the Karnataka government queasy causing it to employ strong-arm measures against the women.

https://twitter.com/alitheasm/status/1213047623520669697

More than 10,000 odd women who took to the streets to demand their wages (Rs. 3,500) that they had not been paid in more than a year, were threatened by the government saying that if they didn’t return to work, their incentives would be cut.

The state government issued a notification to all ASHA workers asking them to return to work and present reports of their duties to the district deputy commissioner every day, failing which their incentives would be cut back on. It also said that the officials and doctors of primary healthcare centers must hold the ASHA workers responsible and ask them to work regularly; saying that the state government would fulfil their demands ‘soon’.

This threat is just another example of the government’s tactics that it uses to stifle protests throughout the country.

In the biggest wave of dissent that India has ever seen, people from different fields, organizations and professions have come to call out the government on its fascist anti-people policies.

Here are some examples.

1.       Use of brute police force against those protesting the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and an all-India National Register of Citizens (NRC) – The ruling government never imagined that the passing of the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) as an Act would evoke feelings of such displeasure against the government in the people. Protests first broke out in Assam, with thousands coming out to raise their voices against the Act that could impact the language, culture and identity of the state. With protests refusing to die down, the government not only curbed the right to protest by slapping Section 144 throughout the state, but also used indiscriminate police force against violent protestors, charging them with lathis, lobbing tear gas, throwing stun grenades and leaving them socially stranded by cutting off the internet. The fight against the CAA-NRC then spread through the country when people saw it for its religiously discriminative nature and its potentially harmful effect on the marginalized. Students, who came forth to foster the movement, were brutally beaten up by the police, especially in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh at the Jamia Millia Islamia University and the Aligarh Muslim University. In Uttar Pradesh, the protests took a nightmarish turn with the police singling out minorities and resulting in the death of over 18 people, all Muslims. Section 144 was arbitrarily imposed in different states of the country and people, including activists, senior citizens and minors were detained and beaten up in police custody.  
 

2.       Attack on the students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) for protesting against the fee hike – In November 2019, the students of JNU vehemently protested against the almost 300% fee hike that was proposed to be implemented. Demanding a complete roll back of the same as it would adversely impact students from the economically backward communities, the students sought to have a word with the Vice Chancellor to voice their concern. However, this did not happen and the Vice Chancellor never spoke to the students. As students engaged in peaceful protests, once again, the worst treatment was meted out to them. The Delhi Police was called in to quash their agitation and many students, including the differently abled, were injured in the baton charge and use of water cannons. The students had then decided to boycott their semester exam registrations to be held in January 2020. However, once again, a brutal attack was launched, this time by alleged right wing masked goons who beat up students and teachers alike for protesting the fee hike and boycotting examinations. Many allege that the attack by the right-wingers, the inaction of the police and the complicity of the University administration was state-sponsored.

3.       Silencing Kashmir – Before Kashmir could even wake up on August 5, 2019 and gain a semblance of how their future was going to be changed forever and try to have a say in it, the government put the state under a military lockdown. The BJP had decided to abrogate Article 370, revoking the state’s special status and it not only issued a clampdown and detained political leaders, activists and children, but cut off all communication, left families stranded, people without medical aid, businesses kaput and attacked journalists who were trying to expose the ground reality of the situation. Today, Kashmir is only crawling back to normalcy, with no end of its issues in sight.  

4.       Using social media to quash dissent and spread hate – With a troll army as its arsenal, the right-wing has been seen trying to quell dissent whether through elaborate campaigns against protests rocking the country, or by registering cases against those who say anything opposing either the ruling government or its leaders. Not only this, it has been seen on more than one occasion that leaders of the ruling government have indulged in hate speech and made communally insensitive statements against minorities and the marginalized.

The above instances demonstrate the rising intolerance of the ruling government and the various ways it employs to muzzle and stifle voices, ideas and thoughts that are against its ideology.

Related:

A peek into the right-wing’s playbook of hate
Police brutality in the wake of peaceful JNU protests
Up in Arms: A look at protests that rocked India in 2019
 

‘Killing Dissent’ – How the government has been silencing opposing ideas and voices

From scare tactics to brute force, the government has done all it can to quell dissenting voices in India

WagesImage Courtesy: deccanherald.com

Clad in pink sarees and taking to the streets of Karnataka in thousands, Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA workers) left the Karnataka government queasy causing it to employ strong-arm measures against the women.

https://twitter.com/alitheasm/status/1213047623520669697

More than 10,000 odd women who took to the streets to demand their wages (Rs. 3,500) that they had not been paid in more than a year, were threatened by the government saying that if they didn’t return to work, their incentives would be cut.

The state government issued a notification to all ASHA workers asking them to return to work and present reports of their duties to the district deputy commissioner every day, failing which their incentives would be cut back on. It also said that the officials and doctors of primary healthcare centers must hold the ASHA workers responsible and ask them to work regularly; saying that the state government would fulfil their demands ‘soon’.

This threat is just another example of the government’s tactics that it uses to stifle protests throughout the country.

In the biggest wave of dissent that India has ever seen, people from different fields, organizations and professions have come to call out the government on its fascist anti-people policies.

Here are some examples.

1.       Use of brute police force against those protesting the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and an all-India National Register of Citizens (NRC) – The ruling government never imagined that the passing of the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) as an Act would evoke feelings of such displeasure against the government in the people. Protests first broke out in Assam, with thousands coming out to raise their voices against the Act that could impact the language, culture and identity of the state. With protests refusing to die down, the government not only curbed the right to protest by slapping Section 144 throughout the state, but also used indiscriminate police force against violent protestors, charging them with lathis, lobbing tear gas, throwing stun grenades and leaving them socially stranded by cutting off the internet. The fight against the CAA-NRC then spread through the country when people saw it for its religiously discriminative nature and its potentially harmful effect on the marginalized. Students, who came forth to foster the movement, were brutally beaten up by the police, especially in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh at the Jamia Millia Islamia University and the Aligarh Muslim University. In Uttar Pradesh, the protests took a nightmarish turn with the police singling out minorities and resulting in the death of over 18 people, all Muslims. Section 144 was arbitrarily imposed in different states of the country and people, including activists, senior citizens and minors were detained and beaten up in police custody.  
 

2.       Attack on the students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) for protesting against the fee hike – In November 2019, the students of JNU vehemently protested against the almost 300% fee hike that was proposed to be implemented. Demanding a complete roll back of the same as it would adversely impact students from the economically backward communities, the students sought to have a word with the Vice Chancellor to voice their concern. However, this did not happen and the Vice Chancellor never spoke to the students. As students engaged in peaceful protests, once again, the worst treatment was meted out to them. The Delhi Police was called in to quash their agitation and many students, including the differently abled, were injured in the baton charge and use of water cannons. The students had then decided to boycott their semester exam registrations to be held in January 2020. However, once again, a brutal attack was launched, this time by alleged right wing masked goons who beat up students and teachers alike for protesting the fee hike and boycotting examinations. Many allege that the attack by the right-wingers, the inaction of the police and the complicity of the University administration was state-sponsored.

3.       Silencing Kashmir – Before Kashmir could even wake up on August 5, 2019 and gain a semblance of how their future was going to be changed forever and try to have a say in it, the government put the state under a military lockdown. The BJP had decided to abrogate Article 370, revoking the state’s special status and it not only issued a clampdown and detained political leaders, activists and children, but cut off all communication, left families stranded, people without medical aid, businesses kaput and attacked journalists who were trying to expose the ground reality of the situation. Today, Kashmir is only crawling back to normalcy, with no end of its issues in sight.  

4.       Using social media to quash dissent and spread hate – With a troll army as its arsenal, the right-wing has been seen trying to quell dissent whether through elaborate campaigns against protests rocking the country, or by registering cases against those who say anything opposing either the ruling government or its leaders. Not only this, it has been seen on more than one occasion that leaders of the ruling government have indulged in hate speech and made communally insensitive statements against minorities and the marginalized.

The above instances demonstrate the rising intolerance of the ruling government and the various ways it employs to muzzle and stifle voices, ideas and thoughts that are against its ideology.

Related:

A peek into the right-wing’s playbook of hate
Police brutality in the wake of peaceful JNU protests
Up in Arms: A look at protests that rocked India in 2019
 

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NRC to hit India’s informal labour force

Muslims, women, Dalits and tribals to be the worst affected

23 Dec 2019

NRC
Image Courtesy: business-standard.com
 

The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) have brought together the nation to agitate against the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) divisive policies. In Assam, where the NRC had already been implemented, 19 lakh people were rendered to be ‘stateless’, with the burden of proof being on them to prove themselves to be the citizens of India.

Now, with an all-India NRC on the cards; it will be repeated in Assam again, trade unions and activists say that the worst hit of the entire lot will be the unorganized sector of the country.

What is the strength of the unorganized sector in India?

There have been no conclusive numbers on the strength of the unorganized or informal workforce in India.

The Economic Survey of 2018-19 released in July this year says that in India, “almost 93%” of the workforce is “informal”. In a report – Strategy for New India at 75 by Niti Aayog, the informal sector “by some estimates” is supposed to be employing 85% of all workers. Another report by the National Statistical Commission, 2012 pegs it at “more than 90%” of the total workforce. However, going by the numbers, more than 400 million of the people in India work in the unorganized sector.

Who comes under the unorganized labour force?

According to the Ministry of Labour, GoI, the unorganized labour force is categorized under four groups – occupation, nature of employment, specially distressed categories and service categories.

  1. Under Terms of Occupation
    Small and marginal farmers, landless agricultural labourers, share croppers, fishermen, those engaged in animal husbandry, beedi rolling, labelling and packing, building and construction workers, leather workers, weavers, artisans, salt workers, workers in brick kilns and stone quarries, workers in saw mills, oil mills, etc. come under this category.
  2. Under Terms of Nature of Employment
    Attached agricultural labourers, bonded labourers, migrant workers, contract and casual labourers come under this category.
  3. Under Terms of Specially Distressed Category
    Toddy tappers, scavengers, carriers of head loads, drivers of animal driven vehicles, loaders and unloaders come under this category.
  4. Under Terms of Service Category
    Midwives, domestic workers, fishermen and women, barbers, vegetable and fruit vendors, newspaper vendors, etc., belong to this category.

These workers mostly belong to scheduled castes / scheduled tribes and other backward classes and mostly do not possess a permanent residential address, birth or school certificates and find it difficult to apply for voter IDs and Aadhaar identification numbers.

Last year, informing the Parliament about how many people were issued the Aadhaar Card, KJ Alphons, the Minister of State for Electronics and IT, said that more than 89% of the total population had been granted the same.

In 2019, India had around 900 million eligible voters, with 95.64% having a photo identity card.

While the government planned to offer benefits like insurance and pension to over 40 crore unorganized workers using the Aadhaar, it hasn’t made it clear whether the biometric identifier or the voter IDs will be regarded as proof of citizenship.

During the Assam NRC, the basic criteria to appear in the NRC list was that the name of the applicant’s family members had to either be in the first NRC prepared in 1951 or in the electoral rolls up to March 24, 1971.

Other than that, applicants also had the option to present documents such as refugee registration certificate, birth certificate, LIC policy, land and tenancy records, citizenship certificate, passport, government issued license or certificate, bank/post office accounts, permanent residential certificate, government employment certificate, educational certificate and court records.

However, it must be noted that 19 lakh citizens were left out of the Assam NRC and scores were wrongly dubbed ‘foreigners’ or ‘illegal immigrants’ even after producing the required proofs.

Who face document woes and why

According to a report by Down to Earth, in India 95 percent (195 million) women were employed in the unorganized sector or engaged in unpaid labour.

Deccan Herald reported that according to Garment Labour Union President Rukmini VP, women are still finding it difficult to enroll for Aadhaar because more than one document is required for address proof. “Migrants often find it difficult to produce them, as their homes are in other states," she said, urging the government to stop imposing multiple citizenship proofs.

The SC, ST and OBCs have historically been kept away from education and property ownership and they are all set to be affected said city-based advocate S Balan who works for the welfare of purakarmikas and daily wage labourers.

He also said that at the APMC market in Bengaluru itself, over 3,000 headloaders don’t have any documents, not even voter IDs.

Minorities affected

According to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy Pvt Ltd, out of the 400 odd million people in India employed in the labour force, 39 million are Muslims. A little more than a hundred million muslims are in the working age bracket in India, i.e. they are of 15 years of age or more. Of these, 42.3 million actually participate in the labour markets by either working or looking for work.

Muslim women have a lesser participation in the labour force, compared to other faiths. Out of the 39 million, 36.5 million are men and only 2.5 million are women. Some households have only one working member, mostly a male and if that person has to run from pillar to prove to gather documents, his household is bound to suffer extreme financial losses.

Women

The NRC process in Assam saw many women being left out of the list. Women from poorer backgrounds were excluded due to lack of documents. It was not compulsory in Assam to register birth or deaths until 1985. The NRC process does not recognise this. Several women were married off they turned 18, so their name will not be on the voter list along with their parents.

With no awareness of the NRC process and emotional and financial dependency on the patriarch, coupled with practices like early marriage and the dwindling girl-child education robs them of their valid identity proofs. Most of the women in rural areas or conservative households do not register for voter identity cards.

Without educational degrees and land documents, women don’t possess independent identity documents which makes them particularly vulnerable to the NRC process.

Dalits and Tribal Communities

The rampant illiteracy and lack of awareness of maintaining documents is going to affect the Dalits and the tribal communities of India. A Delhi-based rights lawyer had claimed that in the Assam NRC over 100,000 Scheduled Tribes who were original inhabitants of Assam were left out of the list due to the inability to prove their legacy from 1971.

Overall, the NRC is set to hit the poor the most especially with them running from pillar to post, gathering documents and facing undue harassment from authorities. The NRC process to the exchequer itself may cost over Rs. 50,000 crore in administration expenses, Rs. 2 – 3 lakh crore to construct detention camps and Rs. 36,000 to take care of the citizens who will face a future in detention camps (National Herald).

According to The Times of India, the cost of reclaiming citizenship will go up to Rs. 50,000 per person. In Assam, people left out of the NRC spend Rs. 7,836 crore for hearings.

Will the economically crippled labour of India be able to bear the cost of the NRC if and when it does hit the country especially when over 22 percent of the country’s population is below the poverty line?

Related:

Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019: The Fire that consumes India
CPI(M) set to push for changes in CAB, terms it a ‘two nation theory’
NPR 2020 to cost close to Rs. 4,000 crores; Centre silent on connection to NRC

NRC to hit India’s informal labour force

Muslims, women, Dalits and tribals to be the worst affected

NRC
Image Courtesy: business-standard.com
 

The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) have brought together the nation to agitate against the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) divisive policies. In Assam, where the NRC had already been implemented, 19 lakh people were rendered to be ‘stateless’, with the burden of proof being on them to prove themselves to be the citizens of India.

Now, with an all-India NRC on the cards; it will be repeated in Assam again, trade unions and activists say that the worst hit of the entire lot will be the unorganized sector of the country.

What is the strength of the unorganized sector in India?

There have been no conclusive numbers on the strength of the unorganized or informal workforce in India.

The Economic Survey of 2018-19 released in July this year says that in India, “almost 93%” of the workforce is “informal”. In a report – Strategy for New India at 75 by Niti Aayog, the informal sector “by some estimates” is supposed to be employing 85% of all workers. Another report by the National Statistical Commission, 2012 pegs it at “more than 90%” of the total workforce. However, going by the numbers, more than 400 million of the people in India work in the unorganized sector.

Who comes under the unorganized labour force?

According to the Ministry of Labour, GoI, the unorganized labour force is categorized under four groups – occupation, nature of employment, specially distressed categories and service categories.

  1. Under Terms of Occupation
    Small and marginal farmers, landless agricultural labourers, share croppers, fishermen, those engaged in animal husbandry, beedi rolling, labelling and packing, building and construction workers, leather workers, weavers, artisans, salt workers, workers in brick kilns and stone quarries, workers in saw mills, oil mills, etc. come under this category.
  2. Under Terms of Nature of Employment
    Attached agricultural labourers, bonded labourers, migrant workers, contract and casual labourers come under this category.
  3. Under Terms of Specially Distressed Category
    Toddy tappers, scavengers, carriers of head loads, drivers of animal driven vehicles, loaders and unloaders come under this category.
  4. Under Terms of Service Category
    Midwives, domestic workers, fishermen and women, barbers, vegetable and fruit vendors, newspaper vendors, etc., belong to this category.

These workers mostly belong to scheduled castes / scheduled tribes and other backward classes and mostly do not possess a permanent residential address, birth or school certificates and find it difficult to apply for voter IDs and Aadhaar identification numbers.

Last year, informing the Parliament about how many people were issued the Aadhaar Card, KJ Alphons, the Minister of State for Electronics and IT, said that more than 89% of the total population had been granted the same.

In 2019, India had around 900 million eligible voters, with 95.64% having a photo identity card.

While the government planned to offer benefits like insurance and pension to over 40 crore unorganized workers using the Aadhaar, it hasn’t made it clear whether the biometric identifier or the voter IDs will be regarded as proof of citizenship.

During the Assam NRC, the basic criteria to appear in the NRC list was that the name of the applicant’s family members had to either be in the first NRC prepared in 1951 or in the electoral rolls up to March 24, 1971.

Other than that, applicants also had the option to present documents such as refugee registration certificate, birth certificate, LIC policy, land and tenancy records, citizenship certificate, passport, government issued license or certificate, bank/post office accounts, permanent residential certificate, government employment certificate, educational certificate and court records.

However, it must be noted that 19 lakh citizens were left out of the Assam NRC and scores were wrongly dubbed ‘foreigners’ or ‘illegal immigrants’ even after producing the required proofs.

Who face document woes and why

According to a report by Down to Earth, in India 95 percent (195 million) women were employed in the unorganized sector or engaged in unpaid labour.

Deccan Herald reported that according to Garment Labour Union President Rukmini VP, women are still finding it difficult to enroll for Aadhaar because more than one document is required for address proof. “Migrants often find it difficult to produce them, as their homes are in other states," she said, urging the government to stop imposing multiple citizenship proofs.

The SC, ST and OBCs have historically been kept away from education and property ownership and they are all set to be affected said city-based advocate S Balan who works for the welfare of purakarmikas and daily wage labourers.

He also said that at the APMC market in Bengaluru itself, over 3,000 headloaders don’t have any documents, not even voter IDs.

Minorities affected

According to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy Pvt Ltd, out of the 400 odd million people in India employed in the labour force, 39 million are Muslims. A little more than a hundred million muslims are in the working age bracket in India, i.e. they are of 15 years of age or more. Of these, 42.3 million actually participate in the labour markets by either working or looking for work.

Muslim women have a lesser participation in the labour force, compared to other faiths. Out of the 39 million, 36.5 million are men and only 2.5 million are women. Some households have only one working member, mostly a male and if that person has to run from pillar to prove to gather documents, his household is bound to suffer extreme financial losses.

Women

The NRC process in Assam saw many women being left out of the list. Women from poorer backgrounds were excluded due to lack of documents. It was not compulsory in Assam to register birth or deaths until 1985. The NRC process does not recognise this. Several women were married off they turned 18, so their name will not be on the voter list along with their parents.

With no awareness of the NRC process and emotional and financial dependency on the patriarch, coupled with practices like early marriage and the dwindling girl-child education robs them of their valid identity proofs. Most of the women in rural areas or conservative households do not register for voter identity cards.

Without educational degrees and land documents, women don’t possess independent identity documents which makes them particularly vulnerable to the NRC process.

Dalits and Tribal Communities

The rampant illiteracy and lack of awareness of maintaining documents is going to affect the Dalits and the tribal communities of India. A Delhi-based rights lawyer had claimed that in the Assam NRC over 100,000 Scheduled Tribes who were original inhabitants of Assam were left out of the list due to the inability to prove their legacy from 1971.

Overall, the NRC is set to hit the poor the most especially with them running from pillar to post, gathering documents and facing undue harassment from authorities. The NRC process to the exchequer itself may cost over Rs. 50,000 crore in administration expenses, Rs. 2 – 3 lakh crore to construct detention camps and Rs. 36,000 to take care of the citizens who will face a future in detention camps (National Herald).

According to The Times of India, the cost of reclaiming citizenship will go up to Rs. 50,000 per person. In Assam, people left out of the NRC spend Rs. 7,836 crore for hearings.

Will the economically crippled labour of India be able to bear the cost of the NRC if and when it does hit the country especially when over 22 percent of the country’s population is below the poverty line?

Related:

Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019: The Fire that consumes India
CPI(M) set to push for changes in CAB, terms it a ‘two nation theory’
NPR 2020 to cost close to Rs. 4,000 crores; Centre silent on connection to NRC

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282 ‘sewer deaths’ in last 4 years reported

A question was put forth by BJP MP, Sushil Kumar Singh, on December 3 in the Lok Sabha regarding rehabilitation of Manual scavengers. He asked about deaths due to manual scavenging and details of identified manual scavengers and their rehabilitation.

07 Dec 2019

DeathImage Courtesy: theprint.in

In response to a question related to manual scavenging, the government said that there are no reports regarding deaths of persons due to manual scavenging but admitted there have been deaths due to cleaning of sewers and septic tanks as recorded by National Commission for Safai Karamcharis. The PUDR report titled “Chronic ‘Accidents’: Deaths of Sewer/Septic Tank Workers, Delhi, 2017-2019” as contended that official bodies have attempted to create a false distinction between the manual scavengers and sewer/septic tank cleaners so as to give priority should be given to manual scavengers. PUDR argues that such official narratives cause sanitation workers to be relegated to the background and questions as to the rights of sewer workers are left out of the debate.

As per data from the Commission, 282 sewer deaths have taken place since 2016 until November 6, 2019 in the country. Out of these, families of 156 deceased persons have received compensation under the provisions of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013. That is just bit more than half of the deceased persons families receiving such compensation.

About Manual Scavenging and sewer cleaning

On October 2, 2014, the Government of India launched the Swachh Bharat Mission with the aim to achieve universal sanitation coverage within five years as a “fitting tribute to Mahatma Gandhi” on his 150th Birth Anniversary in 2019. While the Government lauds the success of the Mission covering 99.2 per cent of rural India in the last four years, it glosses over how sanitation workers and manual scavengers are losing their lives maintaining sewers and septic tanks in the name of clean India.

Manual scavenging refers to the practice of manually sanitation work such as cleaning, carrying, disposing or handling human excreta from dry latrines and sewers and involves the use of basic tools such as buckets, brooms and baskets. The practice of manual scavenging is inextricably linked to India’s caste system where those born into the supposed lower castes, such as Valmiki or Hela, were made exclusively responsible to perform this job.

Sewer cleaning comes under the definition of “hazardous cleaning” which is defined as manual cleaning of sewer or septic tank by an employee without the employer fulfilling his obligations to provide protective gear and other cleaning devices and ensuring observance of safety precautions. There is however no rehabilitation provision for sewer cleaners

Rehabilitation under the Act

The Act provides for rehabilitation of persons identified as manual scavengers to give them a photo identity card, one-time cash assistance, scholarship for his children, allotment of residential plot, financial assistance for house construction, training in livelihood skill and other such social assistance. Out of 60,440 identified manual scavengers, 40,383 have received one-time cash assistance under the Act, the provision of the other rehabilitative measure is still unclear and so is the amount provided as one-time assistance.

Relevant point to note here is that the distinction made between a manual scavenger and a sewer cleaner has been deliberately made by the legislators and hence even in the parliament they have claimed that there have been no deaths due to manual scavenging.

Related:

Swachh Bharat: Who Will Clean & Empty Out 9.8 Crore Septic Tanks/Pits?

Public Hearing on Sewer Workers – Hearing the victims and their families

Manual Scavenging still on: How Swachh is GOI's conscience?

282 ‘sewer deaths’ in last 4 years reported

A question was put forth by BJP MP, Sushil Kumar Singh, on December 3 in the Lok Sabha regarding rehabilitation of Manual scavengers. He asked about deaths due to manual scavenging and details of identified manual scavengers and their rehabilitation.

DeathImage Courtesy: theprint.in

In response to a question related to manual scavenging, the government said that there are no reports regarding deaths of persons due to manual scavenging but admitted there have been deaths due to cleaning of sewers and septic tanks as recorded by National Commission for Safai Karamcharis. The PUDR report titled “Chronic ‘Accidents’: Deaths of Sewer/Septic Tank Workers, Delhi, 2017-2019” as contended that official bodies have attempted to create a false distinction between the manual scavengers and sewer/septic tank cleaners so as to give priority should be given to manual scavengers. PUDR argues that such official narratives cause sanitation workers to be relegated to the background and questions as to the rights of sewer workers are left out of the debate.

As per data from the Commission, 282 sewer deaths have taken place since 2016 until November 6, 2019 in the country. Out of these, families of 156 deceased persons have received compensation under the provisions of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013. That is just bit more than half of the deceased persons families receiving such compensation.

About Manual Scavenging and sewer cleaning

On October 2, 2014, the Government of India launched the Swachh Bharat Mission with the aim to achieve universal sanitation coverage within five years as a “fitting tribute to Mahatma Gandhi” on his 150th Birth Anniversary in 2019. While the Government lauds the success of the Mission covering 99.2 per cent of rural India in the last four years, it glosses over how sanitation workers and manual scavengers are losing their lives maintaining sewers and septic tanks in the name of clean India.

Manual scavenging refers to the practice of manually sanitation work such as cleaning, carrying, disposing or handling human excreta from dry latrines and sewers and involves the use of basic tools such as buckets, brooms and baskets. The practice of manual scavenging is inextricably linked to India’s caste system where those born into the supposed lower castes, such as Valmiki or Hela, were made exclusively responsible to perform this job.

Sewer cleaning comes under the definition of “hazardous cleaning” which is defined as manual cleaning of sewer or septic tank by an employee without the employer fulfilling his obligations to provide protective gear and other cleaning devices and ensuring observance of safety precautions. There is however no rehabilitation provision for sewer cleaners

Rehabilitation under the Act

The Act provides for rehabilitation of persons identified as manual scavengers to give them a photo identity card, one-time cash assistance, scholarship for his children, allotment of residential plot, financial assistance for house construction, training in livelihood skill and other such social assistance. Out of 60,440 identified manual scavengers, 40,383 have received one-time cash assistance under the Act, the provision of the other rehabilitative measure is still unclear and so is the amount provided as one-time assistance.

Relevant point to note here is that the distinction made between a manual scavenger and a sewer cleaner has been deliberately made by the legislators and hence even in the parliament they have claimed that there have been no deaths due to manual scavenging.

Related:

Swachh Bharat: Who Will Clean & Empty Out 9.8 Crore Septic Tanks/Pits?

Public Hearing on Sewer Workers – Hearing the victims and their families

Manual Scavenging still on: How Swachh is GOI's conscience?

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UP: Days after milk adulteration scandal, vermin found in Mid-Day Meal dal

On December 3, a dead rat was found in a mid-day meal (MDM) served to middle school students in UP’s Muzaffarnagar.

04 Dec 2019

mid-day meal

News18 reported that the incident took place in Janta Inter College at Pachenda in the Mustafabad area. The rat was found in the dal cooked for students enrolled in the school between Class 6 and 8.

Nine students and one teacher who was required to taste-test the meal before its distribution complained of their health deteriorating after consuming the meal and they were rushed to the district hospital.

An NGO called Jan Kalyan Sanstha Committee based in Hapur (about 90 kilometres away from Muzaffarnagar) was reported to be the caterer of MDMs in the school. The organisation cooks its food in its Hapur location and transports the prepared meals to Muzaffarnagar.

The mishap was reported by the student who was in charge of serving meals for the day. It was just as the student was serving dal to the tenth student after having served it to the nine poisoned students, that he noticed that what he originally thought was khichdi in the dal was, in fact, a dad rat. He informed the school authorities immediately who stopped serving the contaminated food.

NDTV also reported that all of the children as well as the teacher have been discharged from the hospital after primary care. The media also reported that the District Magistrate (DM) of the area has ordered the police to file an FIR against the agency responsible for providing the mid-day meal to Janta Inter College. In addition, concerned officials have been rushed to the school to collect samples of the food and make inquiries regarding the incident.

Uttar Pradesh has witnessed multiple mid-day Meal scheme-related controversies this year. This incident comes less than a week after a video went viral showcasing how one litre of milk was diluted with a bucket of water so that the mixture could be used to feed 81 children as part of their mid-day meal in Sonbhadra, UP. In August, a government primary school in UP's Mirzapur was found serving salt-roti to children in the name of mid-day meals. A week prior to this, the same kids were given salt-rice for their mid-day lunch. 

On November 26, the HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank told the Lok Sabha that the most number of MDM-related complaints was reported from Uttar Pradesh (14 out of a total 52). Uttar Pradesh received the highest amount of funds to run the MDM program in its school, at about Rs. 11.2 billion.


Related:

All is not well for the Mid-Day Meal Scheme in India
Sonbhadra: 1L of milk given to 81 students as part of their mid-day meal!
Citizens in Support of Journalist Pawan Jaiswal
Odisha Government ensures the inclusion of eggs in Mid Day Meal
Akshaya Patra imposing vegetarian food mono culture on children
Religious Indoctrination Through Midday Meals

UP: Days after milk adulteration scandal, vermin found in Mid-Day Meal dal

On December 3, a dead rat was found in a mid-day meal (MDM) served to middle school students in UP’s Muzaffarnagar.

mid-day meal

News18 reported that the incident took place in Janta Inter College at Pachenda in the Mustafabad area. The rat was found in the dal cooked for students enrolled in the school between Class 6 and 8.

Nine students and one teacher who was required to taste-test the meal before its distribution complained of their health deteriorating after consuming the meal and they were rushed to the district hospital.

An NGO called Jan Kalyan Sanstha Committee based in Hapur (about 90 kilometres away from Muzaffarnagar) was reported to be the caterer of MDMs in the school. The organisation cooks its food in its Hapur location and transports the prepared meals to Muzaffarnagar.

The mishap was reported by the student who was in charge of serving meals for the day. It was just as the student was serving dal to the tenth student after having served it to the nine poisoned students, that he noticed that what he originally thought was khichdi in the dal was, in fact, a dad rat. He informed the school authorities immediately who stopped serving the contaminated food.

NDTV also reported that all of the children as well as the teacher have been discharged from the hospital after primary care. The media also reported that the District Magistrate (DM) of the area has ordered the police to file an FIR against the agency responsible for providing the mid-day meal to Janta Inter College. In addition, concerned officials have been rushed to the school to collect samples of the food and make inquiries regarding the incident.

Uttar Pradesh has witnessed multiple mid-day Meal scheme-related controversies this year. This incident comes less than a week after a video went viral showcasing how one litre of milk was diluted with a bucket of water so that the mixture could be used to feed 81 children as part of their mid-day meal in Sonbhadra, UP. In August, a government primary school in UP's Mirzapur was found serving salt-roti to children in the name of mid-day meals. A week prior to this, the same kids were given salt-rice for their mid-day lunch. 

On November 26, the HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank told the Lok Sabha that the most number of MDM-related complaints was reported from Uttar Pradesh (14 out of a total 52). Uttar Pradesh received the highest amount of funds to run the MDM program in its school, at about Rs. 11.2 billion.


Related:

All is not well for the Mid-Day Meal Scheme in India
Sonbhadra: 1L of milk given to 81 students as part of their mid-day meal!
Citizens in Support of Journalist Pawan Jaiswal
Odisha Government ensures the inclusion of eggs in Mid Day Meal
Akshaya Patra imposing vegetarian food mono culture on children
Religious Indoctrination Through Midday Meals

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Engineers and graduates apply for gov’t sanitation worker jobs!

Engineers and graduates apply for gov’t sanitation worker jobs!

30 Nov 2019

unemployment

A total of 7,000 engineers, graduates and diploma-holders have applied for 549 posts of sanitary workers in the city corporation in Coimbatore, the Hindustan Times reported.

Official sources confirmed that the Corporation had called for applications for the post of 549 grade – 1 sanitary worker posts and 7,000 applicants appeared for the three day interview, verification and selection process that began on Wednesday.

The verification of candidates revealed that nearly 70 percent of the candidates had completed the SSLC, the minimum qualification, and most of them were engineers, post-graduates and diploma-holders, etc.

In Bihar, earlier this month, more than 5 lakh candidates applied for Group – D jobs in the Bihar Vidhan Sabha – posts for watchmen, gardeners, peons and cleaners. Most of the applicants were engineers, MBAs, postgraduates and graduate degree holders.

In Chennai, in February, 4,000 highly qualified people applied for the post of 14 sanitary workers at the Assembly Secretariat.

2018 saw, 54,230 graduates, 28,050 postgraduates and 3,740 PhD holders applied for 62 posts of messenger peons at the telecom wing of the UP Police in August.

In March, 82 lakh, mostly highly qualified candidates, applied for 62,907 posts for the Group – D category in the Railways.

This list can go on.

So, why exactly are so many qualified candidates applying for government jobs?

1.      Payment structures – Most of the candidates who have applied for these posts confess that it is the payment that attracts them to the job. The candidates who applied for the sanitary worker posts told the Hindustan Times that their private jobs earned them Rs. 6,000 – 7,000 while the government job offered starting Rs. 15,700 to Rs. 20,000.
 

2.      Perks for employees: Government jobs come with a lot of perks for employees like provisions for children’s education, housing quarters, reliable retirement policies, pension schemes, medical benefits, etc. Pension schemes, housing and children’s education are particularly attractive to candidates who, if work in private companies, always fear getting laid off due to ups and downs in business. 

While these two are the major reasons why people opt for government jobs, another major reason that pushes them towards these secure, but lower posts is the rising unemployment.

Jobs

(Image Credit – Economic Times)

In Parliament, the Government confirmed that the unemployment rate in rural areas had almost doubled from 2.9% in 2013 – 14 to 5.3% in 2017 – 18.

Replying to a question by Congress MP Kumar Ketkar in the Rajya Sabha, minister of state for labour and employment Santosh Kumar Gangwar said that the unemployment rate in urban areas had increased from 4.9% to 7.7% in the same period. The unemployment rate for urban males had risen from 3% in 2015 – 16 to 6.9% in 2017-18.

The numbers were based on the results of the annual Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) conducted by the National Statistical Office (NSO).

The unemployment rate was found to be the highest among people aged 15 – 29 years of age at 22.5 percent in the January to March 2019 quarter. The NSO report also shows that Kerala (the most literate state) and Jammu and Kashmir have the highest rate of joblessness, While Gujarat and Karnataka have the least.

Experts from private agencies have opined that India’s GDP has hit a multi-quarter low due to shrinking industrial output, slower growth in services and a slowing external trade and slackening investments by corporate companies. Data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) showed that the unemployment rate between January and April rose to 6.87 percent from 5.5 percent in the same period last year. Data from the PLFS concludes that at least every fifth Indian is out of a job.

Another observation shows that labour force participation rate (LFPR) dipped in the first quarter of the year, which indicates that the weak economy is compelling people to quit looking for jobs. The LFPR for all ages in urban India for the third quarter rose to 36.3% as against 36% in the first quarter. In case of just the urban youth, the LFPR dipped quarter on quarter from 38.2 percent to 37.7 percent – indicating that the most employable segment was stepping away from the labour force.

Among the unemployed youth, women outnumbered men, with 23 lakh women remaining unemployed, which is 29 percent at the national level. The female LFPR remains between 16 – 17 percent which means only every sixth woman is seeking a job.

An analysis by The India Forum said that it was important to analyse labour market indicators which provided a conceptual understanding of the conditions of employment.

It said that the decline in LFPR was expected as younger individuals spent more time in getting educated. However, what was worrying that the LFPR in the non-student age group too was high, which could indicate them giving up after failed job searches and withdraw from the market altogether.

Data also showed that 75% of people were engaged in self-employment and casual wage employment. What casual wage employment implies is that when the number of members working in a household increases or the number seeking casual wage employment increases, each worker simply works for less time than before and a large section of the workforce is underemployed and engaged in low productivity work. Second, the earnings from these activities are on average quite low pointing to the fact that most workers are trapped in low paying activities.

With average earnings from self-employment also being low at Rs. 9,750 per month, it is difficult for them to sustain their own business, let alone provide employment to others. Though the report indicates that regular wage workers / salaried workers do have better pay, some of them are not entitled to social security benefits and face vulnerable terms of employment.

The number of people jumping for lower post government jobs even after being over qualified just goes to show that India is not creating the kind of employment opportunities that they are looking for. It is also important that the government look to provide foundational, multifarious skills to the youth, so that they can be utilized in a wide variety of jobs and later be used to up-skill themselves.

Today, India faces a two pronged challenge – one, to create ‘productive’ jobs for the more qualified candidates that meet their aspirations and two, bring back into the fold, the disillusioned jobseekers who have withdrawn from the labour market. Will it overcome the same?

Related:
Unemployment rate doubled in rural areas, 2014-2018: GOI
Maha Vikas Aghadi demands employment for ‘locals’
India’s Microenterprises Can Spur Jobs, Gender Equity If They Scale Up: Study
India is losing its economic way: Growth is significantly lower, debt and distress are growing
Warning of severe slowdown World Bank cuts India growth projection to 6%
Slowdown: Family Savings Dip, Debts Mount
Dumb and Dumber: Facing Slowdown, Govt Squeezes Expenditure

Engineers and graduates apply for gov’t sanitation worker jobs!

Engineers and graduates apply for gov’t sanitation worker jobs!

unemployment

A total of 7,000 engineers, graduates and diploma-holders have applied for 549 posts of sanitary workers in the city corporation in Coimbatore, the Hindustan Times reported.

Official sources confirmed that the Corporation had called for applications for the post of 549 grade – 1 sanitary worker posts and 7,000 applicants appeared for the three day interview, verification and selection process that began on Wednesday.

The verification of candidates revealed that nearly 70 percent of the candidates had completed the SSLC, the minimum qualification, and most of them were engineers, post-graduates and diploma-holders, etc.

In Bihar, earlier this month, more than 5 lakh candidates applied for Group – D jobs in the Bihar Vidhan Sabha – posts for watchmen, gardeners, peons and cleaners. Most of the applicants were engineers, MBAs, postgraduates and graduate degree holders.

In Chennai, in February, 4,000 highly qualified people applied for the post of 14 sanitary workers at the Assembly Secretariat.

2018 saw, 54,230 graduates, 28,050 postgraduates and 3,740 PhD holders applied for 62 posts of messenger peons at the telecom wing of the UP Police in August.

In March, 82 lakh, mostly highly qualified candidates, applied for 62,907 posts for the Group – D category in the Railways.

This list can go on.

So, why exactly are so many qualified candidates applying for government jobs?

1.      Payment structures – Most of the candidates who have applied for these posts confess that it is the payment that attracts them to the job. The candidates who applied for the sanitary worker posts told the Hindustan Times that their private jobs earned them Rs. 6,000 – 7,000 while the government job offered starting Rs. 15,700 to Rs. 20,000.
 

2.      Perks for employees: Government jobs come with a lot of perks for employees like provisions for children’s education, housing quarters, reliable retirement policies, pension schemes, medical benefits, etc. Pension schemes, housing and children’s education are particularly attractive to candidates who, if work in private companies, always fear getting laid off due to ups and downs in business. 

While these two are the major reasons why people opt for government jobs, another major reason that pushes them towards these secure, but lower posts is the rising unemployment.

Jobs

(Image Credit – Economic Times)

In Parliament, the Government confirmed that the unemployment rate in rural areas had almost doubled from 2.9% in 2013 – 14 to 5.3% in 2017 – 18.

Replying to a question by Congress MP Kumar Ketkar in the Rajya Sabha, minister of state for labour and employment Santosh Kumar Gangwar said that the unemployment rate in urban areas had increased from 4.9% to 7.7% in the same period. The unemployment rate for urban males had risen from 3% in 2015 – 16 to 6.9% in 2017-18.

The numbers were based on the results of the annual Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) conducted by the National Statistical Office (NSO).

The unemployment rate was found to be the highest among people aged 15 – 29 years of age at 22.5 percent in the January to March 2019 quarter. The NSO report also shows that Kerala (the most literate state) and Jammu and Kashmir have the highest rate of joblessness, While Gujarat and Karnataka have the least.

Experts from private agencies have opined that India’s GDP has hit a multi-quarter low due to shrinking industrial output, slower growth in services and a slowing external trade and slackening investments by corporate companies. Data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) showed that the unemployment rate between January and April rose to 6.87 percent from 5.5 percent in the same period last year. Data from the PLFS concludes that at least every fifth Indian is out of a job.

Another observation shows that labour force participation rate (LFPR) dipped in the first quarter of the year, which indicates that the weak economy is compelling people to quit looking for jobs. The LFPR for all ages in urban India for the third quarter rose to 36.3% as against 36% in the first quarter. In case of just the urban youth, the LFPR dipped quarter on quarter from 38.2 percent to 37.7 percent – indicating that the most employable segment was stepping away from the labour force.

Among the unemployed youth, women outnumbered men, with 23 lakh women remaining unemployed, which is 29 percent at the national level. The female LFPR remains between 16 – 17 percent which means only every sixth woman is seeking a job.

An analysis by The India Forum said that it was important to analyse labour market indicators which provided a conceptual understanding of the conditions of employment.

It said that the decline in LFPR was expected as younger individuals spent more time in getting educated. However, what was worrying that the LFPR in the non-student age group too was high, which could indicate them giving up after failed job searches and withdraw from the market altogether.

Data also showed that 75% of people were engaged in self-employment and casual wage employment. What casual wage employment implies is that when the number of members working in a household increases or the number seeking casual wage employment increases, each worker simply works for less time than before and a large section of the workforce is underemployed and engaged in low productivity work. Second, the earnings from these activities are on average quite low pointing to the fact that most workers are trapped in low paying activities.

With average earnings from self-employment also being low at Rs. 9,750 per month, it is difficult for them to sustain their own business, let alone provide employment to others. Though the report indicates that regular wage workers / salaried workers do have better pay, some of them are not entitled to social security benefits and face vulnerable terms of employment.

The number of people jumping for lower post government jobs even after being over qualified just goes to show that India is not creating the kind of employment opportunities that they are looking for. It is also important that the government look to provide foundational, multifarious skills to the youth, so that they can be utilized in a wide variety of jobs and later be used to up-skill themselves.

Today, India faces a two pronged challenge – one, to create ‘productive’ jobs for the more qualified candidates that meet their aspirations and two, bring back into the fold, the disillusioned jobseekers who have withdrawn from the labour market. Will it overcome the same?

Related:
Unemployment rate doubled in rural areas, 2014-2018: GOI
Maha Vikas Aghadi demands employment for ‘locals’
India’s Microenterprises Can Spur Jobs, Gender Equity If They Scale Up: Study
India is losing its economic way: Growth is significantly lower, debt and distress are growing
Warning of severe slowdown World Bank cuts India growth projection to 6%
Slowdown: Family Savings Dip, Debts Mount
Dumb and Dumber: Facing Slowdown, Govt Squeezes Expenditure

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Bihar’s MGNREGA Workers Stare at Deeper Rural Stagnation

The rural workforce is caught between delayed or non-payment of wages in the state and lack of jobs outside.

29 Nov 2019


Jageshwari Devi, MGNREGA worker, Mahant Maniyari village, Kurhani block Muzaffarpur district.


After a gap of months, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) workers in ward no. 7 of Ratnauli panchayat in Mahant Maniyari village under Kurhani block of Muzaffarpur district are back on 100-day work. But many of them are still awaiting their past wages.

Jageshwari Devi, 58, a resident of the village, while lifting bricks on her head, said: “We are working under MGNREGA with the hope of getting payment sooner or later. Since five months, we have been waiting for our wages, but there are just assurances, no relief.”

According to Sanjay Sahni, convener of non-political organisation, NREGA Watch, the reason for the gap in work is non-payment of wages, which is to be done by the district administration and government.

Sahni told NewsClick that there were three categories of workers who are awaiting their wage in terms of time interval. For a few of them, wages of three to six months are pending, but many of them are still desperate about getting their annually awaited wages.

The mandate of MGNREGA is to provide at least 100 days of guaranteed wage employment in a financial year to every rural household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work. Its core objectives include providing not less than 100 days of unskilled manual work as guaranteed employment in a financial year to every rural household as per demand, resulting in creation of productive assets of prescribed quality and durability and, most importantly, strengthening the livelihood resource base of the poor. But the rural job guarantee scheme’s story on ground remains opposite to its laid down principles.

 

MNREGA_Workers%201.jpg%20BIhar.jpg
MNREGA workers in Bihar continue to work without wages.

 

Acknowledging the prolonged wage crunch and equal work demand, NREGA Watch, along with workers of the Kurhani and adjoining blocks, is planning to stage a protest at the Muzaffarpur collectorate. The decision to protest came up in wake of workers of Sakra, Gaighat, Bandra, Kurhani, Marwan, Musahari, Maraul, Bochahan, Saraiyya and Kanti blocks not been paid since months. NREGA Watch sources said noted development economist, Jean Dreze, and co-founder of Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan, Nikhil Dey, will participate in the proposed protest.

 

PROTEST%20LETTER.jpg
Letter to DM Muzaffarpur by NREGA Watch on protest against non-payment

 

Last year, too, the MGNREGA workers had protested citing rampant corruption in the people’s scheme.

According to Section 3(3) of the MGNREGA, workers are entitled to payment on a weekly basis, and in any case within a fortnight of the date on which work was done. The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005, states that in case of a delay in payments, there is a provision for compensation to workers at the rate of 0.05% per day. However, this clause is not taken seriously by the administration and workers are hardly ever paid compensation for wage delay.

Despite such provisions in the Act, labourers have not been paid the meagre amount of Rs 171/day, which is the state-wise amount for unskilled manual workers, based on measurement of work done i.e. piece rate basis.

 

bihar%20mnrega.PNG
Anil Ram (right), a migrant labourer with NREGA Watch convener Sanjay Sahni.

 

Anil Ram, a migrant worker from village Mahant Maniyari, says if MGNREGA wages were a bit high, at least Rs 400/day, then people like him would not have to migrate to Vishakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh.

“At least 100 of us have migrated to states like Assam, Gujarat, and sole reason remains extremely low wages of workers. How can we run a family of four on Rs 171/day?” he says.

But sometimes it is the other way around, he says. “When they do not find an economically favourable job outside Bihar, many youth, out of distress, decide to return and try their hands in 100 days of work”, he adds.

Anil Ram’s says the basic problem is lack of opportunities. For Bihar’s MGNREGA workers, it’s a choice between the devil and the deep sea. While low wages in Bihar compel them to migrate, lack of opportunities outside the state, pushes them back home to work for lower wages or even no wages for months.

Speaking with NewsClick over phone, Ashish Ranjan, secretary of National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), Bihar chapter, said there was severe fund shortage under MGNREGA in the state. “Payment to MGNREGA workers has been stopped since six months,” says Ashish, who currently works with MGNREGA workers in Araria district of Bihar.

He accused the government of gimmickry to mislead MGNREGA workers when it comes to paying them for their labour, by announcing of wrong dates for release of funds. “This is how the government misleads workers on MIS (Management Information Systrem),” he adds.

The intentions of the Bihar government have been suspect since long in terms of raising MGNREGA wages, he says, adding that in 2015, it slashed the minimum wage to Rs 138 a day which, after efforts of social activists and a public interest litigation filed in Patna High Court, was finally rolled back.

The Bihar government has the power to strengthen livelihoods of MGNREGA workers under Section 32(1) of the Act, which states that the government may, by notification, make rules to carry out the provisions of Act subject to the conditions of consistency with MGNREGA and rules made by the Central government.

MGNREGA, which is a bottom-up, people-centric, demand-driven, self-selecting and rights-based programme that ensures employment specifically to rural population, seems to have been deliberately turned into a non-functional scheme to hurt the rural population.

In short, the cat fight and blame game of fund crunch between state and Central government is directly pushing rural workers deep into rural stagnation, which will further lead to an existential crisis of the worst kind sooner rather than later.

The writer in an independent researcher based in Bihar.

Courtesy: Newsclick.in

Bihar’s MGNREGA Workers Stare at Deeper Rural Stagnation

The rural workforce is caught between delayed or non-payment of wages in the state and lack of jobs outside.


Jageshwari Devi, MGNREGA worker, Mahant Maniyari village, Kurhani block Muzaffarpur district.


After a gap of months, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) workers in ward no. 7 of Ratnauli panchayat in Mahant Maniyari village under Kurhani block of Muzaffarpur district are back on 100-day work. But many of them are still awaiting their past wages.

Jageshwari Devi, 58, a resident of the village, while lifting bricks on her head, said: “We are working under MGNREGA with the hope of getting payment sooner or later. Since five months, we have been waiting for our wages, but there are just assurances, no relief.”

According to Sanjay Sahni, convener of non-political organisation, NREGA Watch, the reason for the gap in work is non-payment of wages, which is to be done by the district administration and government.

Sahni told NewsClick that there were three categories of workers who are awaiting their wage in terms of time interval. For a few of them, wages of three to six months are pending, but many of them are still desperate about getting their annually awaited wages.

The mandate of MGNREGA is to provide at least 100 days of guaranteed wage employment in a financial year to every rural household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work. Its core objectives include providing not less than 100 days of unskilled manual work as guaranteed employment in a financial year to every rural household as per demand, resulting in creation of productive assets of prescribed quality and durability and, most importantly, strengthening the livelihood resource base of the poor. But the rural job guarantee scheme’s story on ground remains opposite to its laid down principles.

 

MNREGA_Workers%201.jpg%20BIhar.jpg
MNREGA workers in Bihar continue to work without wages.

 

Acknowledging the prolonged wage crunch and equal work demand, NREGA Watch, along with workers of the Kurhani and adjoining blocks, is planning to stage a protest at the Muzaffarpur collectorate. The decision to protest came up in wake of workers of Sakra, Gaighat, Bandra, Kurhani, Marwan, Musahari, Maraul, Bochahan, Saraiyya and Kanti blocks not been paid since months. NREGA Watch sources said noted development economist, Jean Dreze, and co-founder of Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan, Nikhil Dey, will participate in the proposed protest.

 

PROTEST%20LETTER.jpg
Letter to DM Muzaffarpur by NREGA Watch on protest against non-payment

 

Last year, too, the MGNREGA workers had protested citing rampant corruption in the people’s scheme.

According to Section 3(3) of the MGNREGA, workers are entitled to payment on a weekly basis, and in any case within a fortnight of the date on which work was done. The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005, states that in case of a delay in payments, there is a provision for compensation to workers at the rate of 0.05% per day. However, this clause is not taken seriously by the administration and workers are hardly ever paid compensation for wage delay.

Despite such provisions in the Act, labourers have not been paid the meagre amount of Rs 171/day, which is the state-wise amount for unskilled manual workers, based on measurement of work done i.e. piece rate basis.

 

bihar%20mnrega.PNG
Anil Ram (right), a migrant labourer with NREGA Watch convener Sanjay Sahni.

 

Anil Ram, a migrant worker from village Mahant Maniyari, says if MGNREGA wages were a bit high, at least Rs 400/day, then people like him would not have to migrate to Vishakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh.

“At least 100 of us have migrated to states like Assam, Gujarat, and sole reason remains extremely low wages of workers. How can we run a family of four on Rs 171/day?” he says.

But sometimes it is the other way around, he says. “When they do not find an economically favourable job outside Bihar, many youth, out of distress, decide to return and try their hands in 100 days of work”, he adds.

Anil Ram’s says the basic problem is lack of opportunities. For Bihar’s MGNREGA workers, it’s a choice between the devil and the deep sea. While low wages in Bihar compel them to migrate, lack of opportunities outside the state, pushes them back home to work for lower wages or even no wages for months.

Speaking with NewsClick over phone, Ashish Ranjan, secretary of National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), Bihar chapter, said there was severe fund shortage under MGNREGA in the state. “Payment to MGNREGA workers has been stopped since six months,” says Ashish, who currently works with MGNREGA workers in Araria district of Bihar.

He accused the government of gimmickry to mislead MGNREGA workers when it comes to paying them for their labour, by announcing of wrong dates for release of funds. “This is how the government misleads workers on MIS (Management Information Systrem),” he adds.

The intentions of the Bihar government have been suspect since long in terms of raising MGNREGA wages, he says, adding that in 2015, it slashed the minimum wage to Rs 138 a day which, after efforts of social activists and a public interest litigation filed in Patna High Court, was finally rolled back.

The Bihar government has the power to strengthen livelihoods of MGNREGA workers under Section 32(1) of the Act, which states that the government may, by notification, make rules to carry out the provisions of Act subject to the conditions of consistency with MGNREGA and rules made by the Central government.

MGNREGA, which is a bottom-up, people-centric, demand-driven, self-selecting and rights-based programme that ensures employment specifically to rural population, seems to have been deliberately turned into a non-functional scheme to hurt the rural population.

In short, the cat fight and blame game of fund crunch between state and Central government is directly pushing rural workers deep into rural stagnation, which will further lead to an existential crisis of the worst kind sooner rather than later.

The writer in an independent researcher based in Bihar.

Courtesy: Newsclick.in

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Only work, no pay: 40,000 teachers in K’taka not paid salaries since September

The teachers are getting the short end of the stick between the tussle of the Centre and the states

29 Nov 2019

teachers

The government school teachers in Bengaluru have not received their salaries since the month of September despite several requests, reports Deccan Herald. The number of the teachers whose salaries have been delayed is easily over 40,000.

Office bearers of the Karnataka Primary School Teachers’ Association said, “Salaries of teachers for all 204 educational blocks have not been released.”

Teachers, who are burdened with home loans and other expenses are approaching authorities but to no avail.

Arun Shahapur, member of the Legislative Council said, “Many teachers approached me with the issue. When we checked with the department, officials said that the delay is due to the switching process from Khajane 1 to Khajane 2 system for disbursal of salary funds. Whatever is the technical issue, the department must release salaries for teachers on time.”

Shahapur added that the problem of salaries is common for teachers hired under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan schemes, but for the last few months, even the teachers hired directly by the department seem to be suffering. The government disburses salaries to regular teachers through the respective zilla and taluk panchayats, the teachers from the SSA get their dues from the SSA state project office.

Officials from the department of public instruction have said that the delay is due to the pending approval for release of salary funds. “The estimation of salaries sent from districts needs to get a vote on account three months before. Due to several technical issues, including wrong estimation sent from districts the process was delayed,”

As per the SSA scheme, the Human Resources Department provides Rs. 15,000 to per teacher, with the state having to pay the rest to bring it on par with other teachers. The funding changes every year depending on the progress of the scheme and new proposals.

Speaking to The Times of India, an office bearer said, “The Centre releases its share in three installment and it has been irregular. The state refuses to disburse the salary until it gets the Centre’s share. But, the teachers are the ones suffering.”

S R Umashankar, Prinicipal Secretary of the Primary and Secondary Education department said that the deputy directors would gather on Saturday to discuss the issue.

This isn’t the first time that teachers have been short-changed in the fight between the Centre and the State.

Earlier this month, the Meghalaya Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan Association (MSSAA) threatened to agitate if the state government failed to release funds for their pending salaries for three months before November 18. In a letter to the Principal Secretary of the Education Department, the MSSAA President Aristotle Rymbai said that 5814 lower primary teachers and 6727 upper primary teachers working under the Samagra Shiksha were facing hardships because of the delayed in salary.

In Chandigarh, in the same month, 200 computer teachers, 87 counsellors and other contractual employees in 114 government schools protested saying they are still awaiting the salary for the month of October.

In July, the employees of Patna University too were dealt the same card. It is still unsure if they will get their salaries for the next six months. Sources say that the procedure of payment of salaries through treasury may take a long time because a mandatory bar-code of only 270 of the 1000 employees has been created in the past three months. 

The former member of Bihar’s Public Service Commission and the former head of the English Department PU, Shiv Jatan Thakur slammed the government’s decision to pay through treasury and not the university fund as established under the Section 45 of the Patna University Act, 1975.

In October, teachers of the Jai Narayan Vyas University in Jodhpur demonstrated outside the Vice Chancellor’s office because of the failure of the university to disburse salaries owing to the delay in the issuance of the block grant by the state government.

Earlier this year, the teacher associations in Bihar like the Bihar Rajyapatrit Shikshak Mahasangh, Bihar Rajya Prarambhik Shikshak Sangh and Parivartankari Prarambhik Shikshak Sangh, threated to vote NOTA in the then parliamentary elections over the delay in payment of salaries of over three lakh teachers.

Teachers in West Bengal threatened to cease work over the government’s decision to hike salaries according to the seventh central pay commission starting 2020 instead of 2019. Their fight for the hike has been going on since 2016, but has always fallen on deaf ears.

It is pathetic to see the apathy of the state and central government towards the teachers who are engaged in such a noble profession and depriving them of their right to live with dignity under Article 21 of the Constitution.


Also Read

Thousands of teachers to cease work in West Bengal colleges today
Diwali likely to remain dark for contractual workers in Bihar

Only work, no pay: 40,000 teachers in K’taka not paid salaries since September

The teachers are getting the short end of the stick between the tussle of the Centre and the states

teachers

The government school teachers in Bengaluru have not received their salaries since the month of September despite several requests, reports Deccan Herald. The number of the teachers whose salaries have been delayed is easily over 40,000.

Office bearers of the Karnataka Primary School Teachers’ Association said, “Salaries of teachers for all 204 educational blocks have not been released.”

Teachers, who are burdened with home loans and other expenses are approaching authorities but to no avail.

Arun Shahapur, member of the Legislative Council said, “Many teachers approached me with the issue. When we checked with the department, officials said that the delay is due to the switching process from Khajane 1 to Khajane 2 system for disbursal of salary funds. Whatever is the technical issue, the department must release salaries for teachers on time.”

Shahapur added that the problem of salaries is common for teachers hired under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan schemes, but for the last few months, even the teachers hired directly by the department seem to be suffering. The government disburses salaries to regular teachers through the respective zilla and taluk panchayats, the teachers from the SSA get their dues from the SSA state project office.

Officials from the department of public instruction have said that the delay is due to the pending approval for release of salary funds. “The estimation of salaries sent from districts needs to get a vote on account three months before. Due to several technical issues, including wrong estimation sent from districts the process was delayed,”

As per the SSA scheme, the Human Resources Department provides Rs. 15,000 to per teacher, with the state having to pay the rest to bring it on par with other teachers. The funding changes every year depending on the progress of the scheme and new proposals.

Speaking to The Times of India, an office bearer said, “The Centre releases its share in three installment and it has been irregular. The state refuses to disburse the salary until it gets the Centre’s share. But, the teachers are the ones suffering.”

S R Umashankar, Prinicipal Secretary of the Primary and Secondary Education department said that the deputy directors would gather on Saturday to discuss the issue.

This isn’t the first time that teachers have been short-changed in the fight between the Centre and the State.

Earlier this month, the Meghalaya Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan Association (MSSAA) threatened to agitate if the state government failed to release funds for their pending salaries for three months before November 18. In a letter to the Principal Secretary of the Education Department, the MSSAA President Aristotle Rymbai said that 5814 lower primary teachers and 6727 upper primary teachers working under the Samagra Shiksha were facing hardships because of the delayed in salary.

In Chandigarh, in the same month, 200 computer teachers, 87 counsellors and other contractual employees in 114 government schools protested saying they are still awaiting the salary for the month of October.

In July, the employees of Patna University too were dealt the same card. It is still unsure if they will get their salaries for the next six months. Sources say that the procedure of payment of salaries through treasury may take a long time because a mandatory bar-code of only 270 of the 1000 employees has been created in the past three months. 

The former member of Bihar’s Public Service Commission and the former head of the English Department PU, Shiv Jatan Thakur slammed the government’s decision to pay through treasury and not the university fund as established under the Section 45 of the Patna University Act, 1975.

In October, teachers of the Jai Narayan Vyas University in Jodhpur demonstrated outside the Vice Chancellor’s office because of the failure of the university to disburse salaries owing to the delay in the issuance of the block grant by the state government.

Earlier this year, the teacher associations in Bihar like the Bihar Rajyapatrit Shikshak Mahasangh, Bihar Rajya Prarambhik Shikshak Sangh and Parivartankari Prarambhik Shikshak Sangh, threated to vote NOTA in the then parliamentary elections over the delay in payment of salaries of over three lakh teachers.

Teachers in West Bengal threatened to cease work over the government’s decision to hike salaries according to the seventh central pay commission starting 2020 instead of 2019. Their fight for the hike has been going on since 2016, but has always fallen on deaf ears.

It is pathetic to see the apathy of the state and central government towards the teachers who are engaged in such a noble profession and depriving them of their right to live with dignity under Article 21 of the Constitution.


Also Read

Thousands of teachers to cease work in West Bengal colleges today
Diwali likely to remain dark for contractual workers in Bihar

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Unemployment rate doubled in rural areas, 2014-2018: GOI

Response to a Rajya Sabha question also states that unemployment grew sharply among urban men from 3% to 6.9% between 2015-16 and 2017-18.

28 Nov 2019

unemployment

The Government has in parliament that the unemployment rate in rural areas almost doubled from 2.9% in 2013-14 to 5.3% in 2017-18. In the same period, there was over 50% increase in unemployment in urban areas. The most striking trend has been the rise in unemployment among urban males from 3% to 6.9% during the two year period from 2015-16 to 2017-18.

Replying to a question by Congress MP Kumar Ketkar in the Rajya Sabha yesterday, on whether the unemployment rate has been rising every quarter, the minister of state for labour and employment Santosh Kumar Gangwar said on Wednesday that in urban areas, the unemployment rate increased from 4.9 to 7.7% during the period.

The minister said that the figures were based on the results of the annual Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) conducted by the National Statistical Office (NSO) under the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation during 2017-18 and the annual employment-unemployment survey conducted by the Labour Bureau, Ministry of Labour and Employment.

According to these surveys, he said, the estimated unemployment rate in rural and urban areas for those 15 years or older was collated and determined. The data revealed that the unemployment rate in rural areas grew from 2.9% in 2013-14 to 3.4% in 2015-16 and 5.3% in 2017-18. In urban areas, the unemployment rate first dipped from 4.9% in 2013-14 to 4.4% in 2015-16, before rising sharply to 7.7% in 2017-18.

Region Gender Survey by Labour Bureau Survey by NSS (PLFS)

2015-16           2017-18

Rural Male       2.9                   5.7

Female             4.7                   3.8

Person              3.4                   5.3

Urban Male      3.0                   6.9

Female             10.9                 10.8

Person              4.4                   7.7

Rural

+

Urban Male      3.0                   6.1

Female             5.8                   5.6

Person             3.7                   6.0

 (Note: Survey methodology and sample selection are different in PLFS and Labour Bureau survey)

In response to another question by Congress MP Anand Sharma on whether India’s unemployment rate has risen to 8.5% due to the economic slowdown and contraction of industrial output, the minister responded by only providing the data from the same PLFS Survey. He said that as per the Region Gender Survey conducted by the PLFS, in the two-year period between 2015-16 and 2017-18, the unemployment rate among rural males increased from 2.9% to 5.7%, while for rural females it dipped from 4.7% to 3.8%. Overall, it increased from 3.4% to 5.3%.

In the case of urban areas, the overall unemployment rate increased from 4.4% to 7.7% with the rate more than doubling for urban males from 3% to 6.9% during the same period. In the case of urban women, it came down slightly from 10.9% to 10.8% in the two-year period.

The minister also stated that during 2017-18, the estimated labour force participation rate for those 15 years and older across the country was 75.8% for males and 23.3% for females.

On the steps taken by the government to improve the employment scenario, Gangwar stated that the private sector is being encouraged and that various projects involving substantial investment are being fast-tracked. He said public expenditure on schemes such as Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme, MGNREGS, Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana and Deendyal Antodaya Yojana-National Urban Livelihoods Mission has been increased.

Also, he said, the Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana has been initiated for facilitating self-employment. Under this scheme collateral free loans up to Rs 10 lakh are being extended to micro and small business enterprises and to individuals to enable them to set up or expand their business activities.

He said a digital portal has also been set up under the National Career Service Project to provide a nation-wide online platform for the job seekers and employers for job-matching.

Finally, he said, skill development schemes have been initiated to improve the employability of youth. And under the National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme, the government will reimburse 25% of the stipend payable to apprentices to improve the employment climate.

Unemployment rate doubled in rural areas, 2014-2018: GOI

Response to a Rajya Sabha question also states that unemployment grew sharply among urban men from 3% to 6.9% between 2015-16 and 2017-18.

unemployment

The Government has in parliament that the unemployment rate in rural areas almost doubled from 2.9% in 2013-14 to 5.3% in 2017-18. In the same period, there was over 50% increase in unemployment in urban areas. The most striking trend has been the rise in unemployment among urban males from 3% to 6.9% during the two year period from 2015-16 to 2017-18.

Replying to a question by Congress MP Kumar Ketkar in the Rajya Sabha yesterday, on whether the unemployment rate has been rising every quarter, the minister of state for labour and employment Santosh Kumar Gangwar said on Wednesday that in urban areas, the unemployment rate increased from 4.9 to 7.7% during the period.

The minister said that the figures were based on the results of the annual Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) conducted by the National Statistical Office (NSO) under the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation during 2017-18 and the annual employment-unemployment survey conducted by the Labour Bureau, Ministry of Labour and Employment.

According to these surveys, he said, the estimated unemployment rate in rural and urban areas for those 15 years or older was collated and determined. The data revealed that the unemployment rate in rural areas grew from 2.9% in 2013-14 to 3.4% in 2015-16 and 5.3% in 2017-18. In urban areas, the unemployment rate first dipped from 4.9% in 2013-14 to 4.4% in 2015-16, before rising sharply to 7.7% in 2017-18.

Region Gender Survey by Labour Bureau Survey by NSS (PLFS)

2015-16           2017-18

Rural Male       2.9                   5.7

Female             4.7                   3.8

Person              3.4                   5.3

Urban Male      3.0                   6.9

Female             10.9                 10.8

Person              4.4                   7.7

Rural

+

Urban Male      3.0                   6.1

Female             5.8                   5.6

Person             3.7                   6.0

 (Note: Survey methodology and sample selection are different in PLFS and Labour Bureau survey)

In response to another question by Congress MP Anand Sharma on whether India’s unemployment rate has risen to 8.5% due to the economic slowdown and contraction of industrial output, the minister responded by only providing the data from the same PLFS Survey. He said that as per the Region Gender Survey conducted by the PLFS, in the two-year period between 2015-16 and 2017-18, the unemployment rate among rural males increased from 2.9% to 5.7%, while for rural females it dipped from 4.7% to 3.8%. Overall, it increased from 3.4% to 5.3%.

In the case of urban areas, the overall unemployment rate increased from 4.4% to 7.7% with the rate more than doubling for urban males from 3% to 6.9% during the same period. In the case of urban women, it came down slightly from 10.9% to 10.8% in the two-year period.

The minister also stated that during 2017-18, the estimated labour force participation rate for those 15 years and older across the country was 75.8% for males and 23.3% for females.

On the steps taken by the government to improve the employment scenario, Gangwar stated that the private sector is being encouraged and that various projects involving substantial investment are being fast-tracked. He said public expenditure on schemes such as Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme, MGNREGS, Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana and Deendyal Antodaya Yojana-National Urban Livelihoods Mission has been increased.

Also, he said, the Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana has been initiated for facilitating self-employment. Under this scheme collateral free loans up to Rs 10 lakh are being extended to micro and small business enterprises and to individuals to enable them to set up or expand their business activities.

He said a digital portal has also been set up under the National Career Service Project to provide a nation-wide online platform for the job seekers and employers for job-matching.

Finally, he said, skill development schemes have been initiated to improve the employability of youth. And under the National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme, the government will reimburse 25% of the stipend payable to apprentices to improve the employment climate.

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