Dev Raj 45 is a construction worker who left his village in Bihar 25 years ago to make a living. He has worked in cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Jodhpur, Coimbatore and Bangalore. After all these years, he’s going back to his village disappointed with what he has achieved.
Raj has been in Bengaluru for a year now. "I am going home next month and I will not come back. I will work in the fields in my village. Yes, I will earn less but it is far better than living here," said Dev Raj. He earns 200 rupees per day for 9 hours and after that he gets 20 rupees per hour as overtime. He has to pay for food, medicines etc apart from sending home some money.
B. Mahesh, 47, from Chennai has worked in a textile firm before, he has studied till seventh standard. He is happy with his life here in Bengaluru. "I have been working in this factory for the past three months, I am very happy with my job, I am getting the facilities that I never even knew about" he says. Mahesh’s earns 4,000 rupees a month for 8 hours of work per. His job comes with medical insurance, traveling allowance, bonus etc.
Two workers from different states, with similar backgrounds, leading very different lives in Bangalore.
The condition of most of the construction workers is very poor in the city. They have to sleep in the temporary huts built near the construction site; they do not have any toilets, if they have small children they have to keep them at the site. The textile workers lives are less of a makeshift arrangement. But their work conditions in many cases aren’t any better. They work long hours for lesser pay and many of them don’t have regular leave plans and medical facilities. Sometimes even toilet breaks become a luxury.
According to the minimum wages act the salary of a construction worker should be at least 135 rupees per day and for a textile worker it has to be 121 rupees per day. In this case Raj does earn more than Mahesh on a per day basis but the former only manages to get work for ten days a month.
Raj who has spent all his life moving from one place to another in search of a good job, because back home he did not had the opportunity, is tired now and will go back to his home not to return again.
For the past fifteen years he has only seen an increase of 100 rupees in a day, which he says is not enough to cope with the growing expenses.
"When I left my village 25 years ago I thought that when I return I will be satisfied with what I achieved in the cities, with what I did for my family. The only thing for which I am going to miss Bangalore for is the weather its very pleasant, back home its very hot," said Raj.
With two cuts on his chest and perhaps several on his dreams, Raj is going back to the place from where his journey began. Mahesh on the other hand is planning to get his family here. Because he says the facilities which he is getting from the factory is sufficient for his family.