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Secluded Irula Snake Catcher Tribe of India will Now have their Own ‘Fantasy Homes’

Irula is an ethnic tribe of Indian states - Tamil Nadu and Kerela. Traditionally, the primary occupation of Irula was snake and rat catching

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Irula snake catcher, tribe
Irula snake catcher people. Wikimedia

Chennai, August 23, 2017: A novel project, ‘Fantasy Homes’ was initiated to rehabilitate families of Irula snake catchers in a complex that will house more than 300 people, who are trapped at the helm of debt bondage.

Irula is an ethnic tribe of Indian states – Tamil Nadu and Kerela. Traditionally, the primary occupation of Irula was snake and rat catching.

According to the non-profit International Justice Mission, an estimated number of 463,000 bonded labor were tricked into submitting themselves for work as collateral for a debt inherited from a relative which takes ages to return. The government data estimated 100,000 Irula people subsisting in Tamil Nadu.

Notwithstanding the 1976 ban imposed on bonded labor, many of them are still the victim of debt bondage and face slavery at places like rice mills, brick kilns, and brothels.

Last year, the government took some measure to reduce debt bondage, as a part of which they devised plans to rescue 18 million bonded laborers by 2030. To tackle with modern slavery, it also increased compensation for rescued workers by five folds.

However, it was hard to ensure the safety of Irula people as their fundamental work has always been snake catching and live in makeshift homes. Owing to no permanent shelter and limited job opportunities, the snake catcher community becomes easy targets for intermediaries seeking for cheap labor and more vulnerable to slavery.

The rehabilitation project was a brainchild of Prabhushankar Thangaraj Gunalan, a junior bureaucrat in the Tamil Nadu government.

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Gunalan, a medical doctor by training, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, “There were hundreds who were being rescued and sent back home, and the onus of their rehabilitation was falling on us.”

“When they came back, they didn’t have a home we could send them to. The existing rehabilitation process was piecemeal. I wanted to create something sustainable.”

A venom extraction unit, charcoal making unit, brick kilns, and traditional medicinal herbs nursery will accentuate the inherent strength of the community and generate employment.

Devi and Selvam, members of the once-Nomadic Irula tribe, will be among the first residents of Abdulkalam Puram, a “rural gated community” outside Vandavasi in Thiruvannamalai district to own a house of their own.

“In a few months, this will be our home,” said Devi.

“For the first time, we will live in a house where the thatch roof doesn’t fly off in the rains, and there is a proper door, instead of a torn cloth we hang to ensure some privacy.

Devi and Selvam find the process incredible. “It looks nice,” they murmured as they watch the houses being painted.

“It’s been two years since I first thought of the project and today there is this satisfaction that something has been accomplished,” Gunalan said. “The Irulas are getting what is rightfully theirs.”


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Fastest Growing Jobs in America Continue To Shrink for The Middle Class

It is likely there will always be demand for service work, jobs that often serve to emphasize the divide between the haves and the have-nots

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Jobs do offer a foothold in America for new immigrants. One-third of the American workforce is currently involved in the so-called gig economy, about 10% of them full time. Pixabay

America’s affluent class is bigger than ever, with more disposable income to treat itself to indulgences in Jobs like massages, manicures, pedicures, and personal trainers.

While jobs for middle class Americans continue to shrink, work positions are growing at the top and the bottom of the payscale. Laborers in the emerging underclass who cater to the whims of the better-off are sometimes referred to as “wealth workers.

“There are more people at the top with the wherewithal to purchase services,” says Mark Muro, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute. “Not only are there more rich people, but there are more people who are doing fairly well, and all of them are willing to pay for these services, whether it’s yoga instructors or dog walking or task running. And there are more people than ever in the lower third of the distribution that really need this sort of work.”

Wealth workers are more likely to be women and Latino. These are often people without a college degree who might be working multiple jobs providing services to people who are financially better off than they are.

“What we don’t have a lot of in the country is middle-wage income … work that we might say was traditionally more solid or dignified,” Muro says.

Jobs
America’s affluent class is bigger than ever, with more disposable income to treat itself to indulgences in Jobs like massages, manicures, pedicures, and personal trainers.  Pixabay

Personal care and services occupations are the fastest growing segment of the job market for non-college-educated workers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. These jobs are expected to grow 17% in the next decade, resulting in more than 1 million new jobs.

The number of manicurists and pedicurists doubled between 2010 and 2017, according to the Brookings Institute. And fitness trainers and dog walkers increased at up to three times the rate of overall employment.

Muro says at least 3 million people in the United States currently rely on this type of work.

“Our concern is not so much that the jobs exist, but that because of the way we structure work in America, they’re not particularly good jobs. They really don’t pay that well,” he says.

These workers are among the most vulnerable to exploitation by their employers, and rarely enjoy benefits like sick leave, vacation packages, pensions or retirement.

But the jobs do offer a foothold in America for new immigrants. One-third of the American workforce is currently involved in the so-called gig economy, about 10% of them full time. The rest are part time, picking up gigs — such as driving for the Uber car service — to supplement income from another job.

“I think it’s good for the economy because these are people who need those jobs and demand is the greatest source of labor power for working people,” says Louis Hyman, director of the Institute for Workplace Studies at Cornell University. “The question is not how do we get rid of the gig economy, but how do we marry that with security? And it’s not just a question for gig workers, but for all low-wage workers in America.”

Hyman says one answer to the problem could be to set up a system of portable benefits.

Jobs
While Jobs for middle class Americans continue to shrink, work positions are growing at the top and the bottom of the payscale. Pixabay

“Every time there is a transaction, every time somebody comes to your door and delivers something to you, a dollar goes into their retirement account and a dollar goes into their health care fund,” Hyman says. “We make it easy for freelancers to have these kinds of transactions.”

It is likely there will always be demand for service work, jobs that often serve to emphasize the divide between the haves and the have-nots.

ALSO READ: CDC Investigates The Mysterious Lung Disease

“I don’t think that’s a particularly attractive structure for society,” Muro says. “I think it will produce a lot of dissatisfaction and frustration among the bottom half. So I don’t think, as a whole, it’s a very healthy state of affairs … let’s ensure that these are dignified jobs.” (VOA)