BY JAHANGEER AHMAD LONE
We ride on the roads they build, our children go to the school they construct and the malls where we spend our leisure time stand on their shoulders. Come on, admit it, we can’t even lift a rock.
I know we pay them, but tell me how many of us would work our bones out for a whole day in scorching sun and chilling cold for a return of Rs 600!. Yes, I am talking of a daily wage labourer, a hero I respect and salute.
Lately, I have been living next to one such labourer and got a peak into his work life and thinking patterns. They are living on the margins and their thoughts keep them on the edge.
They want to trade their every minute and energy for money. The one I have been living next to returned from work at 12:30 am and when I checked on him in the morning he was gone before 8 am. What a struggle, it was incredible for me.
On top of everything they are scared, survive on inadequately nutritious food, smoke very harmful bidis. All these things add up to their misery and snatch a few good productive years from their lives.
The irony of their life that is they work the most but think their work has no significance and live the least standard; life puzzles me. It hurts my soul. We as human beings, same as them, shall come forward and do a few things for these heroes.
Firstly, lets convey to them the true significance of their work. Tell them that without their hard work, the life cycle is incomplete and development is impossible. That they turn rough surfaces into smooth roads, bricks and rocks into beautiful living spaces.
Make them believe, and rightly so, that their work has equal value if not more than our office work. This will genuinely make them proud of their work. They deserve to take pride in the work they do!
This will slowly but surely change the way they look at their work. It may also help them find a purpose of their work life. Armed with this pride, these laborers would not be manhandled and exploited. I am going to start on it from today with the one living next to me and urge you to do the same with the one living next to you!
The second thing is to make them understand that working more than the body can handle, and keeping self-care on the bottom of priority list would harm their interests and not make them rich.
I observed their working and spending habits and found a few patterns: they work overtime to make more money, giving them very little time for other activities, eat inadequately nutritious foods and give no attention to personal hygiene.
We have to make them understand clearly and precisely that this way of living is contrary to their expectations. Help them understand that allocating a respectable percentage of their income to food, not breaking their bodies working overtime, giving personal hygiene first priority would keep them healthy and extend their working years.
It would also cut their medical costs drastically as they would be less likely to fall ill in comparison to the present lifestyle. It would also go a long way in getting them back from the margins into the mainstream. This cost benefit analysis would prompt them to consider our suggestions.
And lastly when you hire one for the work you’re unable to do yourself, give them the respect they deserve. Be compassionate towards them. Don’t take advantage of their vulnerabilities and exploit them by underpaying or making them work overtime.
These things may make their lives happier and healthier. I reiterate you to volunteer for this noble cause. As they say, it comes back in unexpected ways. So lets give it a try and hope we end up transforming many lives. All the best!
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.