Have you ever visited a construction site in India?
Not the high profile ones.The ordinary ones.
If you have at least visited one of them,you will be able to relate to what I write about.
I live in a developing area of Bangalore.'Developing' means it is really developing.You can see buildings being constructed on every other site in the locality.As such,I invariably get a peep into the lives of the labourers who work in these buildings.
The labourers working in these buildings fall under two categories-those with families and those without families.The ones with families are mostly people from rural Karnataka or neighbouring states of Andhra or Tamilnadu.They come and stay here in make-shift shanties for a few months or up to an year,till their work is required in the construction.The other category is mostly migratory labourers,predominantly male,the ones who come from Bihar,Odisha or West Bengal,to fill the gap of cheap labour.
I find the former category quite interesting.The people who live with their families,usually work as a family.They live along with their wives and children,who sometime pitch in when there is a labor shortage at the construction site.
I find it amazing that these people are able to live as a normal family even in the face of adverse circumstances.The women get up quite early and do all the household work like any other family lady.They cook,wash and clean their shanty everyday.And I find their cooking very interesting.
They seem to have most of the basic utensils which a normal Indian household will have-frying pans,ladles,plates,tumblers and sometimes even a pressure cooker.The only difference is that they do not cook on a gas cylinder and stove.They seem to have some kind of earthen chulhas for cooking.
But the aroma of their cooking is really enticing.I sometimes cant restrain myself from peeping in when I get those divine smells wafting through the air.
And the washing.No dishwasher or washing machine can beat these ladies.Their utensils are shining and their clothes are washed spic and span.Doing all this in addition to manual labour at the construction site..Phew!.I wonder where these ladies get so much of energy.
And then the babies.Each family seems to have at least two-three kids.Maybe kids are also extra hands for them.Not sure of that.Of course,I haven't seen any child-labour there till now.But I have a hunch that in future these kids will be expected to do the same kind of labour and earn for their families.But what amazes me is that these ladies have to take care of so many kids also in addition to all the strenuous work they are already doing.Bathing them,Feeding them and taking care of them..OMG..these ladies sure are superwomen.
And even the kids look healthy and care-free.They look anything but malnourished.The only drawback is that they don't get to attend school.And that is definitely a big drawback.Perhaps because of the migratory nature of their parents' work,moving from one construction site to another,they cannot attend a school permanently.So they keep roaming about all day,exploring the neighborhood.
The other problem I find is with sanitation.Although they have come here to build luxury apartments,they do not have basic necessities in their shanties.Especially the ladies.I see a crooked shanty which serves as a bathroom.The bathroom is made up of discarded wooden planks and tarpaulin sheets.Guess the ladies have their bath and do other things before any of the men wake up.
That is definitely very sad.
Although I wonder at their spirit and admire their cooking and adaptability,I do feel concerned about the major issues they face-namely lack of education and sanitation.
It is easier for the government to reach out to the urban poor and provide education,sanitation and housing for them,mainly because they are settled in one place and the local netas can take the initiative for their constituents.But what about migratory labourers?. The local netas will not bother about them because they will not stay in that place long enough to vote in the elections.
If not anything,some provision should be made for their sanitation needs and educational needs.
Else,we are leaving out a sizable chunk of our population to eternal poverty and doom.
Written as Day 1 of #HalfMarathon#DailyChatter