Prison of Poverty: Agri Workers’ Wages Have Barely Increased in Modi Years -Subodh Varma
No scheme touches them, no law reaches them – but they hope that a better deal for farmers will benefit them.
At the Ghazipur border between Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, Manish and a few of his friends have joined the farmers’ dharna only a few days back. They live in Baghpat district, barely a few dozen kilometres from the protest site but it could be another continent, or another age.
“In the sugarcane season, I get about Rs.250 per day, and dal-roti, for about a month or so. When there is no work, I try to find work in any construction activity. I have my parents and wife and children to look after, but there is never enough money…we are just surviving,” says Manish.
His cousin, Ravinder, explains the deathly – and shocking – economics of their earnings. “Daily wage rates are practically the same since last several years. The land-owners say that they are not getting enough returns themselves, how will we give you more.”
That is why both of them decided to come to Ghazipur border for a few days – they feel that perhaps, the struggle of farmers (land owners) will give them also some benefits, ultimately.
Survival Wages – Minimal Increases
Data for wage rates, recently released by the Labour Bureau, shows that in UP, daily wages of agricultural workers have risen from about Rs.200 in September 2015 to Rs.272 in September 2020. That’s an aggregate increase of Rs.72 in five years, or about Rs.15 or about 7% per year. That doesn’t sound too bad, but if you adjust for price rise of an average 4.4% per year in those five years, the increase gets whittled down to just about 2.5% per year. With Rs.272 per day and an average increment of 2.5% per annum – Manish and his fellow landless labourers are condemned to eternal poverty.
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Newsclick.in, 3 January, 2021, https://www.newsclick.in/agri-workers-in-india-no-increase-in-income-under-Modi?fbclid=IwAR3WhRrtV4Q7i1aTbDM5EAll3icjHZTTVe7U0yj7FucZHcQoEOK7swQQojk