Republic Day special: Nuggets from the lives of three daily wage earners

Written by: Maitreyee Boruah
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Bengaluru, Jan 25: One common thread that links the lives of Jyoti Amma, Atul Kumar and Satish BA is their daily lives on the streets of India's tech hub Bengaluru. It is on these roads and pavements of the city where these three people earn their livelihoods, like millions of others.

"I clean the roads of the city every day. I work as a sweeper (pourakarmika) with the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP). Roads are my life. I spent almost 12-14 hours a day on the streets, cleaning them," smiles Jyoti Amma, who mostly works near Domlur flyover.

Atul Kumar poses with his wares

Taking a lunch break with her female colleagues on Thursday (January 25), just a few hours away from the 67th Republic Day celebrations, Jyoti Amma spoke to OneIndia.

"What do you want to know? My life is not interesting. I am working as a pourakarmika for the last 15 years. I originally hail from Andhra Pradesh. Bengaluru is my home now. I have three children. They are all adults," smiles Jyoti Amma, who is in her late forties.

When asked about her salary and working conditions, she says, "Will my complaint be heard? My salary is meagre, around Rs 7,000 per month. Moreover, we don't get paid on time. We are poor people, nobody cares for us. Nobody listens to our grouses. But we can't stop working. We do the dirty jobs; clean shit with our hands. Moreover, vehicles plying on the roads are a huge risk to our lives. Motorists don't care if someone is sweeping the roads or footpaths."

Does Jyoti Amma expect anything from the government to improve her life? "I vote religiously. All I want is respect from all."

Atul Kumar's mini shop

In spite of her daily hardships, Jyoti Amma is a friendly person, which can be gauged from her ever-smiling face and a horde of friends sharing lunch with her. However, Jyoti Amma refused to pose for a picture when this reporter requested her for one. "No photographs, please," she smiles.

Similarly, Satish BA, a 50-year-old auto driver too did not give us permission to take his picture. "No, don't take my picture."

Instead he said, "Take the picture of my ID card." "I am from Mangaluru. It has been more than 20 years I have been driving auto rickshaw in Bengaluru. Life is not easy, but I am managing to run my household with my Rs 15,000 earning every month. The earning fluctuates, but we have to cope. I have cleared all the loans I took to buy this vehicle. Every year, I pay my tax and insurance bills."

Satish, who expresses his disillusionment with the political establishment, adds, "Every government is the same. They care very little about the common man. The divide between the rich and the poor is growing and this is not good. In spite of all these demerits, I am proud to be an Indian." The mini tricolour adorning his vehicle is a testimony to the celebratory mood ahead of Republic Day. 

 Satish BA's ID card displayed inside his vehicle

Atul Kumar, a Bihari migrant, who is a street vendor near Indira Nagar metro station, says the Republic Day is a special occasion for all citizens.

"Not all can go and witness the celebrations at Rajpath, New Delhi. We celebrate in our own ways. I will watch the parade live on television at my friends' house. Then I will work," he says.

"I am from Jamui district of Bihar. I am working in the city since last two years. I send eighty percent of our earning to my folks back home. I hope to earn enough and go back home someday and open a shop of my own," says Atul.

Unlike Jyoti Amma and Satish, an otherwise shy Atul did not mind smiling for the camera. "My photo will appear in newspaper?" he asked, happily posing for the camera.

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