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

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Migrant Road Workers in the Upper Himalayas

Narratives of Health and Well-being

This paper deliberates upon the physical body of labourers as well as their health and well-being in order to reveal the contradictions in the state's discourse of national development and defence. Narratives of and interviews with the imported casual paid labour working on the Manali-Leh highway as for the Border Roads Organisation show us that illness, death and injury accompany the dangerous work of building roads in the high altitude of the upper Himalayas. The "unskilled" or "disposable" labourer is never able to accumulate additional utility or human capital even after many years of experience. His only capital--the body--is treated as a disposable and inanimate piece of machinery that loses its value in order to generate value for the nation.

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