There has been a sharp increase in the number of suicides across the country in the year 2021, which as per numbers is the highest since 2014. The numbers are shocking and also identify a section of people—daily wage workers—who have been facing the brunt of every up and down in society and when it comes to the up and down in the finances, then there is no end to the miseries they face. It is the same section of the society that always remains on the receiving end, and has always remained the section that has been exploited from both sides by people for their interests. What happens, when there is no Government policy for the betterment of these people, has been revealed in the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report.
As per the NCRB report, in 2021 a total of 1,64,033 have been reported across the country, of which 24% is that of the daily wage workers while it has remained the largest group, profession-wise, to report these many suicides across the country; it is something that should be enough for those manning the system to ring alarm bells: the numbers clearly suggest that something is wrong. There indeed is almost everything wrong when we talk of daily wage workers, across India and the situation is no better in J&K either.
Even though the Minimum Wages Act is in place, more than the private sector, we see the public sector violating the very foundation of the Act which guarantees the minimum wages that must be paid to skilled and unskilled laborers. The Act has outlined several categories of laborers which will be governed under the law, but the situation is totally different on the ground; we also see such workers being paid almost nothing despite having put in their sweat. It does not only stop there. The issue of pending wages also remains in news every now and then—such is the irony that these workers, first, get peanuts, and second, the same is given to them after months and are made to run from pillar to post—something which is more prevalent in the public sector rather than private, but the non-adherence to the Minimum Wages Act is common for both.
Who is responsible then for making these workers, who are working hard day in and day out, make their ends meet? Who is going to be punished for all these cases of suicides, which at the end of the day consumed precious lives? Someone has to be responsible! Someone who bothered not to treat his workers per the law, or those who were authorized by the Government to ensure implementation of the Minimum Wages Act, but did not, or the Government itself which, as if, has forgotten its labor class being exploited here as well as there? Someone has to be answerable because those dead will not be able to speak for themselves now.