ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Of Brokered Livelihoods and Chopped Hands

The recent horrific incident of 16 December 2013 involving the chopping off of the hands of two young migrant bonded labourers from Kalahandi and Bolangir districts of south-western Odisha for their escape from the clutches of the labour mafia and contractors underlines the failure of the developmental state in addressing debt-induced migration. Flagship schemes of the central and state governments like the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, the Integrated Action Plan, the special KBK (undivided Kalahandi, Bolangir and Koraput districts) plans, the mid-day meals, free education to children in primary schools and a host of social safety allowances have not been able to improve the livelihood of poor people in these tribal and dalit-dominated ­districts.

Though the state government respon­ded swiftly to this particular savage crime, such barbaric acts by labour contractors expose the serious limitations of the state government’s populist schemes, like rice at one rupee, in stemming the tide of migration of bonded unskilled labourers of south-western Odisha to work at brick kilns and construction sites in different parts of India.

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