By Tanushri Tandon
AAJEEVIKA BUREAU, from its inception in 2005, describes its mission as - “We believe in a world where everyone can work with dignity. We envision a safe and humane world, where workers can claim their right to decent work, and to a life of security, dignity and purpose”. The recipient of the Social Entrepreneurship Award of 2010 has headquarters in South Rajasthan but also functions in Gujarat and Rajasthan. Its brilliance on research based on seasonal migration, labour and employment is commendable. The Bureau has tirelessly tried to fill in the potholes in the policy for migrant workers by providing registration services, Photo ID, skills training and placement along with social security and legal aid. Combining service delivery, advocacy, technical support and research, it provides agendas and programmes which the government and industry can adopt. One such is the #AbhiNahinTohKabhiNahin addressing the workers overworking and underpaid situation in almost all industries.
Skill training & employment
Aajeevika has delegated its energy and resources to various sectors for the betterment of the migrant workers during this pandemic. The most recent of which is the #abhinahintohkabhinahin which gained momentum in Surat and is thriving in Gujarat, Ganjam and Odisha alike. The returnees have decided not to work until they are guaranteed Rs. 300 for an eight-hour shift. It should come as an eye-opener for all that the arduous labour isn’t paid even Rs. 9,000 per month, the minimum wage in the country. For a population which has a hand to mouth survival, minimal savings and loopholes in laws concerning job security, continuous flow of wages is their only survival strategy. In addition, they are demanding social security and access to civic amenities from the Surat Municipal Corporation, just some basic and mutually accepted rights of a working citizen. There have been multiple interactive webinars, such as one with Rajiv Khandelwal (the Executive Director of Ajeevika Bureau) and one can be kept in the know by following their Facebook and Twitter pages linked below.
Legal education & aid
Another prominent programme is the #HousingforMigrantWorkers. Its novelty lies in the fact that it takes from Migrants’ own experiences of surviving in the city to provide help. Rather than, as it mentions “adopting a broad stroke policy” its cognizant of the vast heterogeneity of the migrant population. This initiative is focused on providing water, sanitation and healthcare in existing settlements. One can always witness the developments by detailed posts on its Facebook page. The Bureau is focused on bridging the educational gap by making the migrants known of their rights as a citizen and providing them with proof of a legal identity. Thousands of photo ID cards are issued by the Bureau, under the authorization of the Government of Rajasthan’s Department of Labour through an order issued in 2008. This has helped the migrants protect themselves from police harassment and access a gateway for social services reserved for them; along with it being accepted as proof by the government for a social security number.
Identity solutions for migrant workers
With the upheaval caused by Covid-19 whose worst hit recipients are the migrant labourers, Aajeevika Bureau has started a donation fund to supply food and other resources to the needy. It describes its focus on six themes – strengthening its own government labour helpline with more manpower and technological tools, providing healthcare facilities in remote villages and degenerated peripheries, wage compensation and livelihood support through financial assistance, skill training and partnerships with local businesses, large corporations or the government, ensuring food supply and facilitation mobility. Their work is transparent and swift. It is imperative as responsible citizens to help other citizens in need. The transparency ensured by Aajeevika relaxes any anxieties about where your money is going. Since its inception, it has been tirelessly working for the betterment of the often-neglected migrant workers and even after this pandemic, it will continue to do so.