Daily Newsings: 8th May

Daily Newsings are musings on the daily news.

For today’s newsing, we look at a story in page 2 of the Bengaluru edition of the Hindustan Times titled “It’s our time to demand change for gig workers.”

The story is about the millions-strong cohort of gig workers across India. These are the delivery partners working with apps such as Swiggy, Zomato, Dunzo, Zepto, Blinkit, and the like.

They are called gig workers because these companies do not hire them as employees. They keep them on board as contractors, which gives them the freedom to not pay them employee benefits, as well as be able to fire them at will.

Here are some of the challenges faced by the gig workers in India:

  • They work long hours (upwards of 10 hours) each day for low wages (around ₹1500) per month.
  • They do not enjoy any employee benefits, healthcare, or job security.
  • Their work exposes them to scorching heat in the summer, biting cold in the winter, and heavy rains during the monsoon season.
  • They have to frequently dodge reckless drivers on the road.
  • They are also pressed down by unrealistic delivery deadlines.
  • They face humiliation and abuses from customers who shout at them for arriving late, companies that fine them for making their deliveries late, commuters on the road who shout at them for rash driving (which they are often forced to do due to the unrealistic delivery expectations), etc.
  • Their work exposes them to extremely high levels of pollution which can be extremely harmful for them.

Working extremely long hours every day in physically demanding conditions makes it nearly impossible for young people in such work to equip themselves with skills that can help them find alternative employment.

The article tells the story of one 19-year old delivery worker in Delhi named Rizwan. Rizwan narrates an incident when his request for a glass of water at an apartment was met with the disdainful reply, “Buy a bottle.” Rizwan goes on to say that this election season he is asking for basic facilities like water coolers in societies, so he doesn’t have to beg for water on hot summer days. He is also asking for simple respect and recognition of the work that these gig workers do, and warmth from the staff of the societies that they serve.

As children of our compassionate heavenly Father, how might we show compassion to these often overlooked people around us — who serve us tirelessly day and night?

Let us pray for these kind people who serve us, asking that our heavenly Father would take care of their every need. Let us pray that our Governments would regularize the gig worker economy, and provide them with benefits such as employment benefits. And let us strive to serve them in whatever way we can — maybe by offering a glass of water, or installing a water cooler at our gates. After all, it is Jesus himself we serve when we serve the least of these (Matthew 25:35-40).

Being Indian and Christian

Being Indian and Christian is my weekly email newsletter in which I try to understand the world (popular culture or news and events from India or around the world) from a Christian world-view. If that’s something you’re interested in, I’d be honoured if you signed up!

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