NO. 6 AMRUTLAL KESHOLAL NI CHALI,
- 380 016
1993, Krishnaben (18) had been working in SEWA (Self-Employed Women's
Association) as a leader. Her duties included getting a hand-cart
licence for the casual workers from The Municipal Corporation; taking
the members to meetings and trainings; teaching them to save; helping
them to access loans; getting confiscated hand-carts released from
police custody; collecting subscriptions from members etc.
In the course of her duties she one day accompanied some ladies
to SHARDA Trust's meeting regarding Garment Operatives Training
Programme. When she got this information she was at her mother's
house where poverty ruled the day. She started thinking - - - making
two ends meet was indeed difficult - - - they weren't being able
to afford two decent meals a day - - - medicine costs kept increasing.
In such a situation if SHARDA Trust were to provide a job nearby
paying her at least Rs.4000 - 5000/- (four to five thousand rupees)
a month life would be more comfortable. The entire family would
be able to eat well and would not be burdened by huge debts.
mother saw things in the same light as Krishnaben and agreed immediately
to her attending the training. Her father, though, was been sceptical.
He said that many organisations duped the unsuspecting public in
this manner. They generally absconded with the training fee after
luring people with promises of high paying jobs. Since Krishnaben
was extremely insistent her father ultimately let her go.
most others of her economic strata, Krishnaben's is a nuclear family
consisting of only her parents and a sister. The house has two rooms
with all other basic amenities like separate bath and electricity.
(50), her mother earned Rs.20 - 30/- a day selling vegetables. Sonjibhai,
her father, hadn't earned a rupee since 1990 when he was given a
lay-off. Two of her married sisters live with their respective in-laws
and the one married brother too lives separately. The sister who
lives with them is 21 year old Shobhaben. She is illiterate and
had married in Chadasna village sometime in the early 90's. Her
husband' family being very poor and farm work not being to her taste
she had returned to her maiden home soon after marriage. Since then
she has been selling fish, eggs, fruits, etc. She earned about Rs.30/-
a day from this business.
June '98, Krishnaben borrowed Rs.1000/- from another SEWA leader
to pay the first instalment of the training fees to SHARDA Trust.
She was also been instrumental in enrolling 22 women and 3 men for
worked hard at individually convincing all the parents to permit
their wards to join this course as most of them were rather resistant.
She told everyone that the fee money would not go in vain as SHARDA
Trust would surely get them jobs paying Rs.4000 - 5000/- a month.
She also pointed out that a bus for commuting and free meals on
the course would be provided by the Trust.
In July '98, they had underwent training at NIFT, Gandhinagar. The
training though systematic had been difficult at first due to language
barrier. The faculty had been concerned and co-operative but Krishnaben
couldn't follow even the few ordinary English words used by the
some time Krishnaben began to follow key English words. This and
the tasty, wholesome food were the highlights of the training for
this young girl. She was concientitious enough to attend classes
regularly. In fact, on one occasion when she had missed the NIFT
bus, she spent out of her own pocket to reach the class by public
transport. It was here that she learnt how to cut and sew a shirt
The industrial visit, which was a part of the training, appealed
to her a lot. There seeing the men at work she had thought, " Very
soon, I'll be like them. Gradually my speed will increase and I'll
be drawing a handsome salary at some factory in Ahmedabad."
completion of the training she got herself a job at Quest Apparels
through the efforts of SHARDA Trust.
and Kankuben, two of her classmates in the Training Programme were
taken on as helpers. But Krishnaben, having received the same training,
was selected as an operative.
Her timings at the factory were from 7 a.m. to 3.30 p.m. Initially,
for the first one month, she walked to and from the factory as she
had no money for transport. Later on she started using the shuttle
rickshaw for commuting. The fare was Rs.6/- per day.
the factory was situated close to her house she had often stayed
back late to complete the work, thereby increasing her earnings.
The rate was Rs.12/- for every two hours of overtime. Apart from
the income, the working atmosphere at the factory was to her liking;
so she was most satisfied with her job.
When she had worked for three months, her mother took ill very seriously.
She absented from work without information. When she returned to
the factory after two days, she was handed over her dismissal letter.
then repeatedly went to SHARDA Trust's office to request the officers
there to look for another job for her. Meanwhile, she continued
to work as a SEWA leader.
for a couple of months after being thrown out of the job she remained
According to the information available from SHARDA Trust, the Trust
had sent Krishnaben and 8 others for interviews in a factory. Not
only did Krishnaben refused to go there, she also asked the other
8 women to refuse too. Then, in January '99, SHARDA Trust had once
again got Krishnaben a job at the Simran Apparels as an operative.
Working the 7 a.m. to 3.30 p.m. shift she drew Rs.40/- per day.
Out of this Rs.6/- per day was spent on commuting. She was thrown
out of this job too as she was once again absent without notice
for two days. Krishnaben reasons that she had fallen ill this time
and had been unable to inform the factory
this period of unemployment in December'98 Krishnaben got married
to Arvindbhai (22), who wasn't even a high school graduate. Employed
at a roadside tea stall he brought Rs.50/- per day. He was the only
earning member in a large joint family of 12 members! The family
included Arvindbhai's elder brother, his wife and their three children,
two younger brothers, one sister and her two children. Little wonder
then that they were not able to afford even basic necessities.
could not adjust to life in her husband's family and, within 10
- 15 days of her marriage, returned to her parents' home. However,
she would go to her in-laws house every morning and every evening
to cook the two meals of the day. The rest of the day she spent
at her parents' house.
Trust came to her rescue a third time by referring her to Simran
Apparels for an operator's job in March '99. The first one week
she had had to spend in training under the factory seniors. Then,
her career graph took off once again. She had put in just a month's
service when her salary was raised from Rs.20/- to Rs.40/- per day.
The timings here had been from 9 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. Here, she did
not stay back late for earning overtime as the factory was in a
Muslim dominated area and as the normal working day ended later
in the evening. Her supervisors and colleagues being cordial with
her she was satisfied with this job too.
her personal problems intervened. After marriage due to the increased
workload and mental tension she was not keeping good health. Added
to this was the long distance that she had to commute changing two
busses on the way. Sometimes, she spent as much as an hour and a
half waiting for a bus. The strains made her more susceptible to
illnesses. As a result she was forced to take leave on and off,
as also to spend large amounts on medicines. Hence, her husband
and her mother asked her to quit the job.
to the long hours that she had to stay out of home the housework
was neglected. This angered her husband even more and he kept on
shouting at her. Her health, therefore, deteriorated even more.
Even at the time of the interview for this case Krishnaben had been
ill for the past one week and had not been able to report on duty.
her future plans, Krishnaben says, " I enjoy sewing very much, but
I can only work in a garment factory that is near my house. Otherwise
I'll join my husband in his plans of having our own tea stall. If
that doesn't work out I'll make a living by selling vegetables."
Krishnaben learnt how to sew and as SHARDA Trust helped her get
jobs, she feels it necessary to repay the loan instalments. She
had repaid Rs.200 of her loan and has every intention of clearing
the loan in a short while.