Appointing daily wagers has been a favourite pastime of the politicians who have ruled and misruled Kashmir for a very long time. Every minister and the powerful bureaucrat would count, among other things, his success by the number of daily-wagers he or she appointed. Some of the best working corporations were grounded by the massive mass of daily-wagers that was parked with them by the politicians.

Gradually, the numbers had reached a level that an entire generation was on daily-wage: no adequate salary, no future prospects and no possibility of switch-over to other occupations. Almost on daily-basis, this huge population of wage-workers would be the major street crisis, protesting, seeking justice, observing hunger strikes, and seeking the attention of the media and the government.

After a very long time, the government took up the issue on pure humanitarian grounds. The norm has been that every daily-wager would get a married and hope that one day he will be adjusted in the government. By the time his prayers were answered, he was already face to face with the future of his children. So the social costs of the daily-wage system were harsh and life crippling. With every daily-wager was a family actually rotting literally. There were some people waiting for as long as 25 years, which is a life time.

Though the finance minister had indicated his resolve to tackle the issue almost two years back, the real crisis was the maze of the governance: the numbers varied many times and finally stopped at 60,000 only after Adhar identification was used. Now the SRO guiding the process has made it explicitly clear that the doors on the daily-wage set-up stand closed and the only person competent to do this is the Chief Minister.

The real task for the government has now started. How to better utilise the services of 60,000 people is not a small task. It will have impact on the kitty of the state and if they are not properly used, it will undermine the growth of the state. Will the Finance Minister create the Labour Corporation as he once talked about or they will be assigned to their departments? At the same time, however, the pressures on government will increase because there are nearly 40,000 more people, including professionals, working on similar ad-hoc systems.


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