The Bold Voice of J&K

Regularise daily wagers, pay their outstanding dues

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Mohd Hafiz

After the year 1986 engagement of daily wagers/ casual labourers was started by the various departments/ institutions of State of Jammu and Kashmir in view of large scale developmental activities and increase in official work and functioning at all levels after the districts were put under single line administration in order to have smooth functioning of various projects and schemes.
In the initial stages the minimum qualification was kept as middle pass but with the passage of time higher secondary pass and even graduates came forward to work as a daily wager in face of growing extreme unemployment prevailing in J and K state. Some of these graduates were highly talented but hailing from poor families had to work as a daily wager.
Their strength went on increasing with the further expansion of developmental activities and increase in official functioning and their strength as per official records at present is 61,000.
Some of these daily wagers engaged in earlier stages were regularised and absorbed in Govt. jobs but those who were engaged after April 1994 are awaiting regularisation and payment of their outstanding dues.
These daily wagers have been discharging their assigned duties even below minimum living wages with the hope and expectation that like the earlier lot they would also be regularised and absorbed in Govt. jobs.
All these years more than a decade they performed and continue to perform their duties even without payment and are clamouring hard to release their outstanding dues as well as for their regularisation.
The irony is that those working under newly created administrative units since their creation have not been paid regularly and have not been considered for regularisation.
A sad tale of a daily wager who hardly managed a meager loan to procure gifts for his obstinate children to celebrate a festival day while returning from market after purchase of cheaper gifts, spinned down on the pavement due to hunger to be passed as an alcoholic, or drug addict, or lunatic by passer- byes, was highly heart-rending.
How many daily wagers might have passed through similar plight is unknown. Where as on festival days people wear new dresses, prepare sweet to heart dishes, exchange greetings and welcome each other with warmth, the family members of daily wagers reflect a scene of sadness, helplessness and an abyss of despair.
How long they can be able to manage and meet their both ends meet without regularisation and without payments of their outstanding dues especially in light of rise in education fee and abnormal rise in prices of things is a matter which the people sitting at higher seats must ponder over.
The higher authorities may or may not feel, their pain but the reality is non-regularisation and nonpayment of living wages in time have subjected them to extreme distress, utter disabilities and great miseries.
The toad beneath the harrow knows,
where exactly each tooth point goes,
the butterfly on the road,
preaches contentment to that toad.
Even the non-living, non-speaking, non-moving and silent stones shed tears on the poignant plight of these dead beats (daily wagers).
They, therefore, repeatedly bring their burning issue (an important and requiring serious attention ) with detailed account of their miseries to the notice of the Govt. through their concerned MLAs to settle it at the earliest.
Often they perambulate from concerned MLA to concerned ministers to commissioner cum secretary and vice versa for their regularisation and payment of their outstanding dues but without any action on the part of people sitting at the helm of affairs who evade each time with false promises and assurances.
Although present Govt. has shown great concern and extreme sympathy in this regard but the matter is still in a state of indeterminate drift to their misfortune. Under the stress of stern necessity now, they resort to periodic protest demonstrations for the redressal of their grievances.
Undoubtedly, the development is an essential antecedent to promote progress and prosperity of a state but at the same time the same should provide ample opportunities to employ the unemployed youth and ensure removal of poverty.
A development which fails to provide employment and which fails to remove poverty and hunger is not propitious. Development must include well being of all. Governance in which some waste food and drink while some struggle for food and drink cannot be called good governance.
The paramount endeavor of good governance should bring glee not gloom, hope not despair and solace not sufferings on the faces of their subjects.
None should die of hunger and no one should be deprived of his genuine rights and justice should prevail to all the classes and masses at all levels with fair play and favour to none. This good state of affairs cannot be expected unless those sitting at the top responsible positions toil hard with strong will and with public conscience without extraneous considerations. Those who think of their own interests and comforts hardly realise the interests and discomforts of people.
People need good governance and it is one which is clean, sincere and free from corruption, favouritism, and nepotism and free from self-aggrandisements, self indulgence, self interest and also free from scandalous big scams of big deals, land grabbing and loot of natural resources above and below land.
The daily wagers/ casual labourers, therefore, deserve to be regularised if possible in one window-operation and their outstandings released on human grounds. Regularisation of 61,000 daily wagers would provide livelihood to at least five lakh family members who are partially or wholly dependent on them. The present dispensation of governance would be doing great service to these people if they resolve this long pending burning issue by acting fast.

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