Saturday, September 3, 2016

Portraits of labourers in Delhi (2)

Photo: Marcel Fens, on his guided tour of Khari Baoli
What words would you use to describe the people in this photo? Relaxed? Happy? Yes. They're having a nice break, waiting for work.

But there are two more words that come to my mind, and those are not-so-nice: Uneducated and Unskilled.

The informal sector in India is characterized by uneducated and unskilled labour.

Education levels are abysmal. One-fourth (23%) of informal labour is illiterate; having never gone to school. About 10% have studied upto primary school. So that's one-third of the labour force, which doesn't really know how to read or write much. They are vulnerable to exploitation, not just by employers and middlemen, but also by moneylenders. Roughly 48% of workers in the informal sector have studied until Grade 10.

In addition to the poor literacy levels, informal labourers do not have specific vocational training or skills that will bring them better paid jobs. Thus they bring literally nothing to the bargaining table, and must make-do with whatever current rates are offered to them. More than half of the informal labour force is self-employed. This makes it even more difficult to negotiate for improvements.

At the end of the day, it's about education. Until we improve vocational skills and ensure basic literacy, we're going to keep seeing low-paid, poor and unhealthy workforce.

Data source:
Confederation of Indian Industries
An Analysis of the Informal Labour Market in India
A. Srija & Shrinivas V. Shirke

4 comments:

Gaurav said...

Your Article was like-This is a disease(illiteracy) but you come up with nothing i.e how to improve. Would really appreciated if you could have interviewed any one of them in the picture. Their story might give you an idea that how struggling their life is and why they are uneducated.

Haddock said...

I would like to add one more category to this. Uneducated but skilled. There are many among these who are skilled (some highly skilled) but unfortunately they don't have a degree/diploma on paper. They are paid a pittance with the excuse "but you are not qualified"
A sad situation.

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Sana Kapadia said...

I like and love everything about this country and Heritage of India. You have written wonderful article here.