Gurugram : At 7am everyday, 45-year-old Chandni walks three kilometres from her house in Nathupur to Labour Chowk , and sits on a pavement hoping to get some work at a construction site. For the past nine days, she has had to return empty-handed. “I hope to get lucky today,” she said.
Chandni, a native of Murshidabad district in West Bengal, had been working as a domestic help in DLF-Phase 3 area for several years till the Covid-19-induced lockdown restricted the entry of domestic helpers.
“I could not go to West Bengal as I had to look after my five children. I managed to get by for a couple of months. Since last week, I have been coming here to look for bricklaying work,” she said.
Like Chandni, many factory workers, bus drivers, guards, auto-rickshaw drivers, tent house workers, among scores of others, who lost their jobs, have been forced to take up daily wage work. With limited job options, they stand on the road stretching from Sikanderpur Metro Station to Bristol Chowk among hundreds of others, hoping to find work at a construction site or a warehouse, which would pay ?500-800 for eight hours’ work.
Anna Naali, a resident of Chakkarpur, was a school bus driver before he was laid off. “The schools are now closed and classes are online. I was earning ?16,000 a month as a bus driver. I have been coming to Labour Chowk for work for the past two months. Every alternate day, I manage to find some construction work, which pays 500-600. I would like to go back to driving once things normalise,” he said.
According to a United Nations estimate, by the end of the year, half a billion people globally may be pushed into destitution, largely, because of the pandemic. The most vulnerable among them are the poor with no or limited access to unemployment assistance or healthcare. Though the industries and construction services have resumed operations in the city, lack of demand, supply chain problems and a host of external factors mean that the economic activity is yet to take off.
RETURN OF THE MIGRANTS
As per the local trade unions and government department estimates, around 400,000 to 500,000 people, particularly construction workers and daily wagers, had migrated to their home states due to the lockdown. Several, who had gone to their respective native states and returned to the city recently, stare at an uncertain future.
Bihar resident Rahul is one of those. “I worked with a tent house in Wazirabad and was let go after the business suffered,” he said. “I went back to my village in Kisanganj in April. I returned in May and have been looking for a job since then. This labour work is not viable in the long run, but I have limited options.”
With most private companies and IT firms still closed, Metro not plying and not many people visiting malls, auto-drivers have been forced to either sell fruits and vegetables or work as daily wagers to earn their living.
According to an estimate by Haryana Auto Chalak Sangh, a state-wide body, around 1,000 auto owners have either converted their vehicles into makeshift vending carts or have hired push carts to do this work and they can spotted on major arterial roads in the city.
Faheem, who was selling pineapples near Tau Devi Lal park in Sector 22 says that most of them stay in rented rooms and have to pay ?2,000 as rent per person and the cost of food also touches ?3000 a month. “There are hardly any passengers on the road. Earlier, we used to earn ?500 to ?600 daily, but that is not possible now,” he says.
As per the Haryana Auto Chalak Sangh, over 70% of the autos in the city have been financed by private players. “The owners have to pay interest and this is a major burden as the state government has not announced any relief for our members,” said Yogesh Sharma, state general secretary of the association.
WHAT IS THE GOVERNMENT DOING?
Last week, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar had announced that the state cabinet had passed a draft of an ordinance to address unemployment of local population on priority basis.
The ordinance aims at reserving 75% of new jobs with salaries less than ?50, 000 a month in private firms, societies, trusts, limited liability partnership firms and partnership firms for local youths.
Amit Khatri, deputy commissioner, Gurugram, said, “A number of steps have been taken to help the workers. These include government schemes, such as MGNREGA and other measures. We are aware about the issues being faced by migrant workers. The state government is providing assistance in both cash and kind.”
Dr Manipadma Datta, vice-chancellor, TERI School of Advanced Studies, and the head of the department of business sustainability, said that although some labourers have returned in desperation, they are facing difficulties as the economy remains under stress. “Workers from nearby areas, such as western UP, have arrived again but the distress is not going to ease as cities and economies remain under lockdown. The government policies have not been able to revive either the primary or the tertiary sectors,” he said.
The TERI School of Advanced Studies (TERI SAS)family grieves the loss of its founding Chancellor and one of the finest environmentalists and a trailblazer of sustainable development, Dr R K Pachauri, who left for his heavenly abode on February 13th, 2020. The TERI SAS family stands with Dr Pachauri’s family in this hour of grief.
The university held a condolence meeting in memoriam of the departed soul at its Vasant Kunj campus. The demise of Dr Pachauri isn’t just loss to the fraternity of environmentalists and climate change crusaders, but without his valuable insight, the fight against climate change would never be the same.
It was during his leadership that Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) won the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with the former Vice President, USA, Mr Al Gore in 2007. One of the pioneers of sustainable development, Dr Pachauri was also awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2001 and the Padma Vibhushan in 2008, the third and second highest civilian awards of the Republic of India respectively.
Dr Pachauri and his persistent efforts led to the establishment of TERI SAS and his long association with TERI SAS was certainly a driving force which led this institution on the path of excellence.
Dr Shailesh Nayak, Chancellor, TERI SAS expressed his grief and remembered Dr Pachauri for his contribution in the fight against climate change and setting up TERI SAS.
Dr Shailesh Nayak said, “His idea of setting up TERI School of Advanced Studies was a visionary step. He had realised that we will need leaders to address issues related adaptation and mitigation of climate impacts, and formal education is the answer. Today TERI -SAS is in forefront in building capacity for ushering sustainability.”
Dr Manipadma Datta, the Vice-Chancellor, TERI SAS, observed, “Dr R K Pachauri was a global citizen. History will remember him as the trailblazer of sustainable development, education and research. It would be our responsibility to carry his mantle and stand for the principles he lived for.”
The drug menace spread across the world certainly threatens the wellbeing of people, but in South Asia, the situation is quite grave when it comes human security challenges associated with drug abuse.
TERI School of Advanced Studies (TERI SAS), New Delhi, India in collaboration with Swansea University, UK organized a weeklong Executive Programme on ‘Human Security and Drug Policy’ from January 27-31, 2020 at its New Delhi campus.
Speakers were drawn from world class Universities and Institutes such as Swansea University, UK; London School of Economics, UK; University of Rosario, Colombia; The New School, USA. The programme was uniquely designed to deliberate and discuss a host of critical issues around human security challenges associated with drug use and abuse, with specific emphasis on South Asia region.
The theme of the workshop is highly relevant and timely, given that the menace of drug abuse in increasing worldwide and has emerging as a key social impairment. This becomes more pronounced in South Asia region, given that the region is highly vulnerable in many ways, including health related vulnerabilities. The workshop intends to discuss an array of policy measures, and possible policy strategies which are contextual and designed to cater to the ground realities.
The focus will also be on designing and strategizing behavioral transformations to arrest such imminent societal challenge. Specific emphasis will be laid on discussing global declarations such as declarations made through SDGs and how these global goals can effectively be translated into regional and domestic policies and plan of actions.
The coordinator of the workshop Dr Gopal Sarangi from TERI SAS opines that “the primary purpose of the workshop is to strategize feasible, smart, and effective drug policy ‘solutions’ that are effective and humane and which utilize best practices, research, and lessons learned from existing policies that have failed and succeeded”.
Prof. David RB Taylor, Director of Global Drug Policy Observatory, Swansea University, who is one of the co-organisers of this workshop says, “It’s been a privilege to be involved with this ground-breaking workshop at TERI SAS.
Our goal has been to improve the knowledge base across and better understand a range of aspects of the drug issue in an effort to move towards a more nuanced, effective and humane drug policy within Afghanistan. And while certainly a process not an event, we have made good progress and established a solid foundation for future activities”.Read More
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