Thursday, August 01, 2013

Labor Chowk

View NOIDA - Along the Expressway in a larger mapView NOIDA - Along the Expressway in a larger map

Next to the Police Station in Sector 49 is a major crossing where Dadri Road meets Jain Road. At first sight it looks like traffic crossing like any other in Noida where new, wide roads cut through swathes of farming land, leaving in its wake numbered sectors, construction sites, shops and temporary markets.

Look again, as a I did today morning, and you would find on one street-side hundreds of laborers, waiting to be hired. This is where the crossing gets its name -- "Labor Chowk".

Its a motley crowd on the pavement. Skilled laborers - especially construction workers and painters- position themselves with their equipment in hand: leveling scales, brushes, and shovels; the women sit around in their colorful saris while other unskilled laborers just wait with a sharp eye on the road. The moment a prospective employer is sighted, there is a scramble to be spotted and hired.

The terms of engagement are quite clear: Rs.300/day from 9AM to 5PM, with a one hour break in between, for lunch. Despite a clear excess of supply, it is good to see that nobody is desperate to undercut these terms.

Where do these daily wagers come from? What are their numbers in Noida?  Do they all move back to their villages during the harvesting seasons?

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