People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 17

April  24, 2011




Dharna for Food Security, Job Guarantee


Maimoona Mollah

Anurag Saxena


THE Delhi state committees of the CITU, DYFI and JMS jointly organised a huge dharna at the Delhi Sachivalaya on April 19. Around two thousand people — home-based women workers, unorganised sector workers including vendors, construction workers, bakery salesmen and helpers, Anganwadi workers and helpers, rickshaw pullers, loaders-unloaders, daily wagers and the youth — participated in the dharna that aimed to highlight the dismal conditions of home-based women workers, unorganised sector workers and the unemployed youth in Delhi. It was part of the campaign launched by the three mass organisations, as decided by their joint convention of December 19, 2010, towards the upliftment of the sections affected most by the neo-liberal policies in the last 20 years.


Delhi state general secretary Mohanlal presided over the protest meeting. AIDWA general secretary Sudha Sundararaman and CITU all-India secretary Hemlata also spoke on the occasion.


The Delhi leaders who spoke were Anurag Saxena (secretary, state CITU), Sehba Farooqui (general secretary, JMS), Puran Chand (general secretary, state DYFI), Subir Banerjee (DYFI) and M L Malkotia (president, state CITU). 


These speakers dealt with the rising prices, paucity of jobs, targeted PDS and the condition of unorganised sector workers. They said the numbers of unorganised sector workers is growing in Delhi by the day. At a time of backbreaking price rises, these people have been hit the worst, as they have no job security, no minimum wage and no social security. Women too are being compelled to join the ranks of low-paid unorganised sector workers, as home-based workers, in order to augment their meagre family incomes.


According to the report of the Arjun Sengupta committee, appointed by the prime minister, 92 per cent of the workforce in India falls in the unorganised sector and 77 per cent of the country’s population subsists on Rs 20 a day. And these workers have no identity as workers.


While inaugurating the so-called Mission Convergence, Delhi government promised to conduct a survey. It also promised BPL ration cards to the households identified as ‘vulnerable’ and Antyodaya cards to those identified as ‘most vulnerable’. But the government now seems to be reneging on its word.


Lakhs of vendors, rickshaw pullers, construction workers, loaders-unloaders and daily wagers are the ones who are subjected to beating and extortion by the police and municipal officials, forcing them to the subjugation of illegal mafias and so-called ‘contractors’ operating in the city. Anganwadi workers and helpers are working without recognition as full-time government employees, working for the last several years on meagre honorarium. Thousands of daily-wagers are working in the government and semi-government sectors for several years without social security and other related benefits. They contribute to the building and betterment of the city, but the government looks the other way when it comes to the betterment of these people.


Reports of youth committing suicide due to unemployment and their inability to sustain the minimum level of livelihood are common in the capital.


The Left Front governments of West Bengal and Tripura have provident fund schemes for the unorganised sector workers, and these have been commended by the Labour Ministry of India also. The dharna demanded that such a scheme should be implemented in Delhi as well.


Two women who are home-based workers also spoke about their work. One of then was Tayyeba from Sagarpur, who said she makes chappal straps and earns about 25 paise only for 12 pairs. Maya from Kabirnagar said she makes wipers and earns 15-20 rupees in a day when the entire family joins in the work.


The following demands were raised from the platform.


1) Immediately provide BPL and Antyodaya ration cards to all unorganised sector workers of Delhi as promised by the Mission Convergence of the Delhi government, i.e., to all identified ‘vulnerable’ and ‘most-vulnerable’ households.

2) Constitute a state level board to provide comprehensive social security to all the unorganised sector workers.

3) Register and provide I-card/Smart Card to all unorganised sector workers, including all home-based women workers, in Delhi.

4) Launch an urban employment guarantee scheme in Delhi without delay.

5) Revive the employment exchanges in Delhi, link them to skill development programmes, simplify conditions for loans for self-employment and provide unemployment allowance to all the youth registered in employment exchanges.


A delegation of the three organisations submitted a detailed memorandum in this regard to the Delhi chief minister. Mohan Lal concluded the meeting by urging upon the participants to decide the next course of action as per the response of Delhi government towards the charter of demands submitted to the Delhi chief minister.