Distress Migration

Impact of Economic Crisis on Workers in the Unorganised Sector in Rajasthan

Author : Surjit Singh, S Mohanakumar | 2010
Published By: Institute of Development Studies, Jaipur

This article analyses the impact of the global economic meltdown-driven crisis of the late 2007 on workers in the unorganised sector of gem polishing and construction industries in Rajasthan. Based on a field survey, the study analysed the impact of crisis led fall in employment and wage income of workers in general and of different social groups on their living standards. During the crisis period, workers in general tried to adjust to the wage loss and consequent income fall by spending less on their physical as well as social life. In the initial phase of the crisis, workers tend to trim down spending on their social life, followed by a reduction in expenditure on health and education. As the crisis persisted, the workers were left with little other alternative but cut back expenditure on even necessaries absolutely indispensable for their perpetuation and reproduction (food, shelter, clothing, etc). As the crisis continued unabated, they were rather compelled to reduce the very quantity of food intake. Reductions in spending on the necessaries of life tantamount to the absolute deterioration of life standard of workers which would leave the younger generation of the labour force crippled costing dear even to the capital and the state. The social life of workers too was relegated as they cut back their spending on cultural life. On top of it is the economic distress driven domestic conflict, violence and depression, the brunt of which fell mostly on women and children. The study found expenditure reduction food, education and health and sale of assets were mostly done by workers in the lower income strata in both industries. Further that the scale and magnitude of unemployment and income fall due to the crisis on the living standard were more severe for labour households of Scheduled Castes and Tribes. For migrant workers, the hardships further severe. Even though the Indian economy is reported to have been gradually recovering from the crisis, children who were withdrawn from schools and colleges, health hazards of those who had cut back their spending on food and medicines, especially children, women and the aged ones are not retrievable to the pre-crisis level implying that the crisis-led destruction endures. The only viable solution to thwart the deterioration in the living standard of workers is their political mobilization and their organized act to exert pressure on the state to increase budgetary allocation for social service and relief package, at least in the short run.

URL : 20170725034330.pdf

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