Updated: January 26, 2022 7:43:20 am
Among the 565 ‘special invitees’ to the Republic Day Parade this year are 250 construction workers, 115 safai karamcharis, 100 autorickshaw drivers and 100 healthcare workers.
Ashok Kumar, safai karamchari
The 52-year-old has been a safai karamchari with the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) for nearly 25 years now. He lives in Ghaziabad with his wife and three children, works at Connaught Place, and has never watched the Republic Day parade before. “We have worked hard through the Covid waves, and have done our duties as we were told to… We have kept the place clean, working non-stop,” he said. On an average day, Kumar works from 6 am to 2 pm or from 2 pm to 10 pm, depending on the shift he is assigned. So far, he said, he has been able to keep Covid at bay. “Bhagwaan ki kripa se theek-thaak duty kar raha hoon (By god’s grace, I’m fine),” he said.
Akshay Tanti, construction worker
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Akshay Tanti, from Malda, West Bengal, works as a helper at the Central Vista construction site in the national capital. “I have been working at the site for around 50 days now. Before that, I was working in Vadodara, with a different company,” he said.
He spent the first Covid-induced lockdown at home in Malda, with no work. “We were not allowed to go out. Sometimes there was work and food, and sometimes there wasn’t. It is difficult to find work when it rains,” he said. He does odd jobs at the site, cleaning when he is required to. He has two toddlers back home in West Bengal.
Renu Nagar, nurse
Renu Nagar, 36, works with The Trained Nurses’ Association of India, an organisation that focuses on the welfare of nurses. “This was a tough time. Nurses would reach out to us, asking for PPEs. We set up a grievance cell to handle complaints from nurses, and received many in terms of remuneration, availability of PPE kits and other problems they were facing. I used to take the grievance calls, and nurses were so apprehensive and anxious. We would then try to talk to the managements and help out,” she said.
Sanghamitra Sawant, nurse
Sanghamitra Sawant, 42, is the assistant secretary general of Trained Nurses’ Association of India. The past two years have been tough for nurses, she said. She said they had to face many issues during the pandemic like “job instability , working conditions, accommodation issues when nurses were quarantined, living away from families, psychological problems”. “We want nurses to get recognised for their effort. Getting invited to these events is a privilege,” she said.
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