Reflections – Akshata Mahesh Bhat, Jindal Global Law School
In light of recent events highlighting the situation faced by migrant workers, I was keen on learning more about their lives, the issues they face and how I could possibly do something about the same. Having heard of Sampark and their activities as an NGO in the social sector, I knew it would be the right fit to enhance my knowledge on the topic. One of my biggest takeaways from this month-long internship with Sampark was, how so much can be done with so little! The self-help groups are, in my opinion, an extremely economic way of incentivising work, while also providing accountability. It gave me a real-life understanding of how simple economics works. Furthermore, I also came to grips with reality about how suppressed and helpless women actually are in society. I observed how the institutions around them dictate their thoughts and actions. It is truly important that women know that only with their financial independence will they be liberated. It is essential to find different ways of giving women financial independence, by brainstorming not only in villages but cities as well. Numerous well-educated women too are stuck in this vicious cycle. Such women are too afraid to fight for their financial independence because they are scared of starting from the bottom in the work force. The larger picture of empowering women needs to hence be tackled at multiple levels. Working on understanding what laws are implemented to help migrant workers taught me a lot about their plight. Migrant workers come from different cities to work, generally in the construction industry. What I realised was that most Indian states have half-hearted regulations provided for them. Not much attention is given to this strata of society and oftentimes they are not even aware of the welfare facilities they can access. I would say that it is important that migrant workers are educated on what they may access and what they are entitled to. Considering they are moving away from their villages and hometowns to work in big cities, it is only fair that they choose where to work based on the welfare schemes available to them. This would not only incentivise the workers to move towards cities which cared better for them, but also incentivise the welfare boards to work harder in implementing their schemes. In conclusion, this internship has taught me that any activity undertaken by an NGO for social sector reform will be successful only if it has clarity of vision, a sincere implementing team and does not give up under any circumstances. Sampark is one such NGO.