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The Struggle for Employment

Bahragara village, in the Gaya district, comes under the Bajarkar panchayat. The village comprises 150 households of a mixed population/ communities. Agriculture is the main source of livelihood but the land possession is with certain caste group families. The Manjhi & Das community either works on daily wage basis or takes land in Batai from them. The wage rate is much less for women, who are getting 3 to 4 kg rice, than for men, who get 4 to 5 kg rice for a day's work.

The condition of the Majhi and Das community is quite pathetic; they are forced to pull rikshaws in Gaya city or migrate to other metropolitan areas. According to a senior community member 50 to 75 percent of the youth population has migrated to other places in search of jobs and usually they only come back to the village during the rainy season.

Through the village sensitization meeting by the Samagra Sewa Kendra they came to know about the MNREGA and the importance of a Job Card. From this point, the community started the struggle for the right to work. It emerged in the meeting that no one had received a Job card until this date. When investigated by the people and Smagra Seva Kendra, it came out that the Gram Sevak had kept the Job Card of many of the villagers. SSK team advised the villagers to collectively go to the Gram Sevak and ask for the Job Cards. After 2 – 3 visits the Gram Sevak reluctantly handed over the Job Cards to 18 people. This was the first win of the villagers.

Excited with their success, they all applied for jobs, but even after a long wait and repeated visit to the block office, they still did not get any jobs. Finally a demonstration (dharna) was organized in the block headquarters and the collective action produced a result and within 7 days they all were called for Pyne Renovation work in the nearby area. However, the wage rate paid to the workers was much less than specified - they were paid just Rs. 68/- but in the passbook Rs.82/- is mentioned.

Now, the villagers are co-ordinating their joint actions for an equal and correct wage……


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