The year 2014 was a turning point for both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and I. We both started our careers as ‘chowkidars’. While Modi guarded the nation, I ensured the safety of a residential colony in Hyderabad’s Gachi Bowli area. I am originally from Assam. Circumstances forced me to migrate hundreds of kilometers away from home.
It could be a catchy slogan for political dividends, but being a chowkidar is not that easy. Be it rain or shine, we are expected to stand for long hours outside — 12 hours at a stretch in my case. The #MainBhiChowkidar campaign has indirectly brought us into the limelight. Through the campaign I hope, people, especially youngsters will learn to acknowledge and appreciate the work that we do.
As for me, the Hyderbadis have treated me with utmost respect. Irrespective of your class, the people in this city treat you well. The residential area I work is mostly inhabited by professionals from in the IT industry. We put in a lot of hard work in protecting people’s properties and a few kind words go a long way in encouraging us.
Before 2014, I was a farmer but the income wasn’t enough to support my family of four. The income is still not good but I do not have to borrow from others. I work around 12 hours a day (from 8 am-8 pm) and get paid around Rs 12,000 a month. Of this salary, I send Rs 8,000 home and manage with the rest of the money somehow, living in a small room and minimising all my expenses. I had tried looking for work in Assam itself. Not that there were no jobs but the wages were so low that I took a chance to come to a far-off Hyderabad.
If the government thought of giving us better facilities like pension etc. then probably the job would feel better. At my age not many people want to hire us because they think we might not be as agile as the young ones, so we don’t have the scope to put forward many demands. We make do with whatever has been given to us.
Life of a security guard is difficult; it is no mean feat to be on guard for the entire stretch. That is why I do not want my children to get into this profession.
Therefore, I feel it is important that we vote in a government that would work for its people. I take my voting rights seriously and had gone back home to Assam recently to vote for the Panchayat elections. Good leaders at least ensure that even if I am far away, my wife and children are being taken care of.
I like Modiji and his energy. He comes from a humble background and that is why perhaps talks about people like us. This campaign too has put the spotlight on workers from the unorganized sector. Let’s hope something good comes out of it.]]>