Araria district, Bihar
Mandavi Devi from Bihar is full of stories about people’s struggle for social security. That how widows are left with no source of income, how women are abandoned or left on their own when their husbands migrate to cities for work – even her mother, in eighties, has been living with her since her brother finds her a burden. Devi’s father stays with her brother. Thus, her mother and father live separately due to poverty.
Devi from Araria district is in Delhi with a group of 44 men and women from districts of Araria, Purnia and Katihar as part of Jan Jagran Shakti Sangathan demanding universal pension benefits. The group comprises old men, women, widows and disabled.
Widows remain unsupported in villages, Devi says. Families abandon them and being illiterate, they have no source of income. Many women and men get work under the rural employment guarantee scheme but the work is not enough. Women are forced to work as farm labourers earning meagre Rs 100 in a day or they get employed in other people’s houses earning miniscule.
It is difficult to get pension as it requires documents to prove BPL status of those claiming benefits. The fact of the matter is many of those in need do not even have their names in voters’ list which excludes them from the scheme, she says. Even those listed as getting the pension do not get it regularly.