India has the 93% of its labour force in the unorganised sector. This workforce is distributed across cities and towns, boosting the country’s economy. Domestic workers are one such cluster of unorganised sector workers who have been denied of the social and economic securities. Over the years, domestic work has become an important service sector and makes a considerable contribution to the Indian economy. However, despite laws pushing for equal pay for equal work irrespective of gender identity, the sharing of domestic responsibility equally is still a myth. Domestic work is devalued, and so is the gender responsible for it.
Therefore, the service of domestic workers, especially in a nuclear family or otherwise where the woman of the house is also working, has gained great importance. However, there are many vulnerabilities associated with domestic work, and many of them are often forced into it. Several domestic workers live as bonded labours. Similar to most unorganised sector work, domestic workers take up the job more out of compulsion than a desire. In India, nothing has changed in the last seven decades as we still severe discrimination due to the existing social structure.
Due to the absence of rules and legal framework of protection to fall back on, domestic workers have often been referred to as contemporary slaves. Most migrant domestic workers live in slums amidst colossal toxic situation due to lack of water and proper sanitation facilities. These observations made on a casual survey of social and economic conditions of domestic workers have reinstated the fact that discrimination meted out to them has become a way of life. One of the better articulations of the reason behind such discrimination is that the labour that they provide is considered demeaning.
Today, seven decades later, Mahatma Gandhi’s teachings and writings are as relevant as ever. In his Constructive Programme, Gandhi had reiterated that the relations between capital and labour reflects on the erosion of human values in Indian society. For a functioning society, capital and labour must be the two sides of the same coin and must be complementary forces. The living conditions of casual labours, including domestic workers, reflect the greedy aspirations of the educated classes and the industrialists. Gandhi noted that the harmony is a distant vision considering the fabricated social structure; his works revolve around efficiency and work ethics. In the present day context, it becomes imperative to promote an effective safety net and social security system for labourers by uniting them without political interference.
The government should focus more on bridging the gaps and reduce the inequality. We as citizens should nudge our government’s to take up the issue and make it as their key priority to end all forms of discrimination. Realizing the necessity of a platform where citizens can proactively take part in the agenda setting, the youth of the country came forward and launched the forum, “National Agenda Forum” (NAF). The aim of this platform is to resurrect the conversation around 18 Principles of “Constructive Programme” (CP). The forum offers an opportunity to choose the agenda for the upcoming General Elections, 2019. Apart from the agenda setting, one can choose the leader whom she/he thinks will work on the chosen agenda points.
To set the agenda, visit: www.indianpac.com/naf/