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Increase in minimum wage – A case of deceptive numbers

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By Harshmeet Singh

Last week saw a significant announcement by the Delhi Government that went unnoticed; probably because it was significant only for the most neglected section of the society. The government raised the minimum monthly wage for unskilled workers like peons in the national capital from Rs 9,048 to Rs 9,174, which comes down to a daily wage of Rs. 390 per day. Similarly, the minimum monthly wage for semi skilled workers saw an increment from Rs 10,010 to Rs 10,136 (Rs 429 daily) while the minimum monthly wage for skilled workers will now be Rs 11,154 (Rs 467 daily) as compared to Rs 10,998 earlier. The wages for graduate workers were also revised marginally.

Comparatively, under MGNREGS, the highest ‘minimum daily wage’ for unskilled manual workers is Rs 251 which is offered by Haryana. The disparity between the minimum pay slabs in the national capital and that in the other states explains the heavy influx of unskilled workers in Delhi from all parts of the country.

Over populated slums, a fractured social infrastructure, dismal living conditions and absence of any social security are few of the outcomes arising from such migration. Though comparisons such as these paint Delhi in great light, they fail to acknowledge the high cost of living in the capital which forces these outstation workers to live in despicable conditions if they intend to save any amount to send it back home.

In most cases, the migrant workers choose to bring their families with them and find a place to live in a slum. Extremely high population density and ever deteriorating living conditions make these slums an ideal breeding ground for deadly diseases such as Dengue and swine flu.

While rise in minimum wage surely increases the purchasing power of these workers, it is hard to conclude if such revisions or programs like MGNREGS have had any commendable impact on the standard of living of the people belonging to the lowest rung of the society.

There can be 2 major reasons for such failure. First, the increase in purchasing power would only translate into growth if the overall production also grows in the same ratio. High demand and low supply would rather create a situation of inflation, resulting in rising prices, thus neutralizing the impact of higher purchasing power.

Secondly, higher wage is often deceptive. A person’s worth must be measured by his savings and not his earnings. This means that even if the unskilled workers in Delhi earn more than double the minimum wage when compared to Maharashtra’s MGNREGS numbers, it doesn’t mean that they would be living a much better life.

Numbers have a habit of presenting an incomplete and in most cases, incorrect picture. It is only once we look beyond the numbers and make an endeavor to understand the ground situation that things can change for the better.

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Aam Aadmi Party’s Mohalla Clinics come under scanner: Vigilance Department exposes, Ministers faked the rent amount

Top highlights from findings of Vigilance Report

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Delegation from University of Southern California visits Mohalla Clinic
Delegation from University of Southern California visits Mohalla Clinic. Delhi Govt. Website
  • There are currently 110 Mohalla Clinics in Delhi with 106 doctors working
  • The Vigilance Report stated that the doctors were allegedly treating around 533 patients a day
  • The doctors were paid Rs. 30 for attending each patient per day

New Delhi, September 1, 2017: The Delhi Government’s Vigilance Department has submitted a report on the functioning of Aam Aadmi Party’s Mohalla Clinics to Anil Baijal, Lieutenant Governor. Anil Baijal suspected blunders in the functioning of all the Mohalla Clinics, the probe is going on.

Mohalla Clinics were introduced by AAP Government so that free healthcare could be provided to people of Delhi in the vicinity of their homes.

Also Read: Rankings of Aam Aadmi Party Delhi MLAs Drop due to Poor Performance. Praja Foundation publishes Latest Government Performance Report

There was a conflict between Arvind Kejriwal and Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal over the clearance of pending files regarding the Mohalla Clinic Project. After 45 MLA’s of AAP protested at his office, he had a meeting with AAP Party leader and said that the decision on it will be taken soon.

Top 10 points on the issues highlighted in the Vigilance Report:

  • It all started when the Vigilance Department received complaints on “irregularities” in the running of Mohalla Clinics after which it asked details of it from Chief District Medical Officers (CDMO) and Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).
  • There are currently 110 Mohalla Clinics in Delhi with 106 doctors working.
  • The complaint was based on issues like total salaries being paid to private doctors who worked in Mohalla Clinics and on rent for few of the clinics
  • The doctors were paid Rs. 30 for attending each patient per day, they allegedly played with the number of patients (they increased the number of patients to take more money home).
  • The report stated (as per probed complaints) that the doctors were allegedly treating around 533 patients a day (9 am- 1 pm) which is practically impossible considering they were told to give 7-10 minutes time for each patient. So, it means that they violated the rules and fudged the numbers.
  • The data of patients are evaluated by an NGO called Wish Foundation and its role was questioned. The Vigilance department wrote in its report, “The data needs to be strictly under the control of the Health and Family Welfare department to ensure its reliability and integrity. The payment to doctors was made without requisite audit and verification of the patient footfall.”
  • Some Aam Aadmi Party leaders have been hugely benefited from the opening of Mohalla Clinics. According to ABP report, “Some of the Mohalla Clinic’s rent being paid is more than the average rent for that place. It was the case with areas like Vikas Vihar, Todapur, Paschim Vihar and Indra Park.”
  • In the Vikas Vihar area of Delhi, the average rent of two rooms for Mohalla Clinic is Rs.5500 but Rs.12500 more rent is being paid from the actual rent.
  • In Todapur, the average rent of 2 rooms is Rs.7500 but the Delhi Government is paying as much as 15000 for it.
  • A Mohalla Clinic in Paschim Vihar was found in the house of AAP’s Trade Wing leader Sanjay Aggarwal where the average rent is Rs.8000 but the Government is paying Rs.20,000 for it. Whereas In Indra Park, Secretary of AAP, Umesh Sharma’s house has a Mohalla Clinic the average rent of which is Rs.6000 but Rs.15000 is being paid for it.

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High Court seeks Central and Delhi Government’s Reply on Menstrual Hygiene Education

The Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by a practicing advocate Setu Niket told the bench that considering the increasing number of girl child drop outs from school

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Menstrual Hygiene Education., pads
High Court seeks Central and Delhi Government's Reply on Menstrual Hygiene Education. Wikimedia
  • The Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by a practicing advocate Setu Niket told the bench that considering the increasing number of girl child drop outs from school
  • The plea said that as per a survey conducted on the rate of school drop outs of girl child, it is highest at the age of puberty

New Delhi, July 17, 2017: The Delhi High Court on Monday issued notice to the central and Delhi government on a PIL seeking direction to provide access and education about menstrual hygiene to adolescent girls and free sanitary pads.

A division bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C. Hari Shankar sought a status report from the central government, Delhi government and the civic bodies by November 7 on the plea.

The bench sought various details about the existing scheme, if any, its implementation, the syllabus on menstrual hygiene and status of separate toilets for effective implementation and providing of sanitary pads.

ALSO READ: Taxing Menstruation? GST Denies Sanitary Napkins as Essential Commodity

The Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by a practicing advocate Setu Niket told the bench that considering the increasing number of girl child drop outs from school, there was a need of a mechanism to educate school children on menstrual hygiene and providing free and compulsory sanitary pads under the Right to Education Act, 2009.

Advocate Esha Mazumdar, appearing for the petitioner, argued the government failed in its responsibility to provide education to the girl child “when she has to drop out of school after entering the age of puberty due to certain biological changes in the body and due to lack of sanitary products and the inability (due to lack of education or financial constraints) of her guardians”.

It is imperative that children of the age group of 10-14 years are sensitized about menstrual hygiene and every possible effort to help the girl child in continuing her education be made by the government, the advocate added.

The adolescent females enrolled in schools who come from poor backgrounds are generally not equipped and are neither educated by the parents about menstruation and menstrual hygiene and this lack of education increase the prevalence of unhygienic and unhealthy practices which increase abstinence and eventual dropping out from school, the plea stated.

The plea said that as per a survey conducted on the rate of school drop outs of girl child, it is highest at the age of puberty.

The PIL sought formulating a National Level Policy to establish a mechanism to provide education, sensitization and ensure availability of menstrual hygiene products to adolescent girls.

The petition said Kerala took the initiative this year to announce the state government’s “She Pad” scheme, which aimed to provide sanitary pads to all girl students.

As per news reports, Kerala has allocated Rs 30 crore for the project to provide sanitary napkins for girl students in all government schools, it added. (IANS)


NewsGram is a Chicago-based non-profit media organization. We depend upon support from our readers to maintain our objective reporting. Show your support by Donating to NewsGram. Donations to NewsGram are tax-exempt. 

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Women Turn into Well Diggers in Drought Hit Kerala Villages

Over 300 women in Palakkad district started digging wells to find a solution to the acute water scarcity in the drought-hit villages of Kerala

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Drought
Drought in Kerala 2017 drinking water supply. Wikimedia

Kerala, July 13, 2017: The dearth of water in the hamlet of Kerala has turned women into well diggers. It is estimated that over 300 women in Palakkad district of Kerala have started digging wells to find a solution to the acute water scarcity in the drought-hit villages of Kerala.

When the first signs of drought in Kerela appeared, the women in the area made things easier when they began digging the wells with spades and shovels in October 2016.

None of the women had an experience of digging well in the past but the unfamiliarity with work was never a predicament in their way. Radha, a well digger was employed under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) for the past four years now.

“We never had any experience of digging wells. But our collective spirit helped us learn the trick easily. Now we have warmed up to it and most of us get into 80-feet deep without any fear,” said K Radha reportedly to HT.

ALSO READ: Sweet Paradox: India’s Drought-Stricken Farmers plant the Thirstiest Crop ‘Sugarcane’ 

The president of Pookkottukavu panchayat, K Jayadevan, concludes that women dig wells with the same perfection as that of their professional male counterparts. 

Jayadevan told PTI, “The first well, dug by a group of women, under the scheme looked like a pit. But, as they took up more wells, they have perfected. The latest ones, made by them, are really structural marvels. This transition is the proof of empowerment attained by these village women.”

-Prepared by a Staff writer at Newsgram