2 jobs bagged by family, it's a winter of some content!

“There is no work under MGNREGS. Even if we get work, it is only for 10 days and the payment is settled after a month or so,” says Singh family of Gohaldihi village

pujab

Puja Bhattacharjee | November 30, 2012



It is a warm pre-winter afternoon when I revisit the Singh brothers of Gohaldihi village. The brothers, Sapan and Indrajit, work as labourers to make ends meet, and also take care of their handicapped sister.

On my last visit, Sapan had told me that he had been staying home for the past few days due to the lack of work. As I leave left to meet them today, I wished not to see them unemployed this time.

Both Sapan and Indrajit take early morning buses to Midnapore town and wait at busy intersections to find some work. “People looking for labourers usually frequent these chowks. That’s how we find work,” Sapan says. For the past few days they have waited for three hours but in vain. “It’s difficult to find work in the festive season, so we stopped going to save on the bus fare,” Indrajit says.

I’m happy to see that the condition of the Singh family in Gohaldihi village has improved. The younger son, Indrajit, has found employment as a construction labourer in nearby Chaita. He solicited employment through a local man. He is glad that he didn’t have to go to town to seek work. He is happy to get work for one whole month, with a daily remuneration of Rs 130, which he feels is a decent amount.

His father Sudhir Singh works as an agricultural labourer and is also home since there is no work today. Asked whether they deposit their savings in bank, Sudhir says, “We seldom have enough money to save in bank. Whatever little we earn, we spend on food, medicines, clothes and other requirements. The amount saved after meeting our expenses is kept as security for the rainy days."

Sudhir admits that saving money in bank and post office will be beneficial, especially for his daughter Rita (afflicted by polio) but circumstances are not in their favour. Like most people of rural India, Sudhir gets employment during the winter season. He could easily apply for MGNREGS work for other half of the year but that option is not available to him. “There is no work under MGNREGS. Even if we get work, it is only for 10 days and the payment is settled only after a month or so,” he says.

Indrajit dislikes agricultural work and has never even tried to learn it. His brother Sapan is still staying at home, without work. Asked why, he evades a direct answer. During the course of our conversation he says he is preparing for competitive exams. He has appeared for Public Service Commission, railways and police exams, Sapan says. The results are awaited.

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