Precarious Existence

Precarious Existence
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A certain division of labor is one of the defining features of any given society. This is more acute in socially and culturally stratified societies. Kashmir is no exception to this general norm. In terms of economics, major reasons that account for a given division of labor in society and its acuity thereof are capital scarcity, the predominance of labor over capital in the production process and the nature of economic activity prevalent. Notwithstanding the variations in capital, labor and output, there is, to repeat, always a division of labor in any society. But, the tragic fact of the matter, in societies like ours is that labor is viewed as demeaning by society, producers and owners of capital and overlaid by lax regulation and rules, especially in terms of implementation, the laboring classes are neither provided a social safety net but also left at the mercy of happenstance and chance. This appears to me more acute and poignant in the construction industry where laborers have to work under risky conditions are left unprotected and therefore vulnerable. This is not only a demeaning but also a dangerous practice. If, hypothetically, a laborer suffers an accident which is debilitating, he (often times, it is males who form the grist and mill of the laboring classes), he is left at the mercy of events and there is no one to take care of him and his family. The person thus affected gets paralyzed in every sense of the term. And, as is well known, the victim of a debilitating accident is not just the affected person but his or her entire family, emotionally, financially and socially. There is a limit to which family and friends can chip in with assistance and help. The “burden” then falls on the victim and his or her family, in general terms. Having identified the problem, solutions must be found to render the precarious existence of laborers more safe. The question is how? There are many prongs to the answer. One is developing a strict regulatory framework for the protection of the laboring classes. The other is putting teeth and inducing vigor into the safety standards. The third can be putting the onus of the safety of laborers onto those who hire them. There are just many of the measures that can be taken to protect the laboring classes of Kashmir. There can and are definitively more, But, for starters these basic measures might suffice for the welfare, safety and security of those who make it possible for other classes and sections of society to live comfortable live. This much, in the least, is owed to our laboring classes!

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