Beedi makers living in penury despite minimum wage in Uttar Pradesh

December 7th, 2008 - 9:20 pm ICT by ANI  

By Pawan Kumar
Maharajganj , Dec.7 (ANI): Despite the government declaring minimum wage for everyone in the country, there has been no change in the fate of a large number traditional Beedi or local cigarette makers.
Beedi making exists as a cottage industry in the country and mostly women are involved in this. In Bujurg Village of the Uttar Pradeshs Maharajganj district, this is the one of the main sources of locals to earn their bread and butter.
But Beedi-making profession is a major disappointment for Bujurg villagers who are finding it hard to sustain themselves with each passing day. Despite working tirelessly through out the day, the Beedi makers are struggling to survive.
The daily wage of about Rs.24 proves too low to sustain themselves and support children and rest of the family.
“Many people are involved in this occupation. They earn their livelihood by making Beedis. Those, who do not make Beedis, dont have any other work. It is the only occupation here to survive,” said Sahida Khatoon, a woman Beedi maker.
There are over 5,000 women in Bujurg Village who are engaged in this profession. And, the Beedis produced by the villagers is sent to places like Gorakhpur, Devariya, Basti, Varanasi, Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. But these Beedi workers find no one to support them or be their voice.
Beedi workers are expected to make 1,000 Beedis a day for Rs.24 daily wage. The daily earning is deducted if anyone fails to meet the target. But many a times, these people dont have adequate raw materials and thus fail to meet their targets.
These people are expected to make 600-700 beedis using around 250 grams of tobacco, 500 grams tendu leaves and one roll of thread by employers.
Mohd. Chedi, a trader, who supplies raw material from employers to the workers and return with the finished goods (bidis) says it is true the wages are quite low but the employers have no option.
“The money paid is less. Even the 24 rupees per day is just for name sake. They hardly get rupees 12- to 15 a day actually. In this, they have to arrange food and support family,” said Mohd. Chedi.
Beedi, the local cigarette enjoyed by the poor, is a thin cigarette made of tobacco wrapped in a Tendu leaf and held with thread at one end. Due to the relatively low cost of beedies compared to regular cigarettes, they have been favourites of poor across the country. (ANI)

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