Do You Know Our Life?

RealChowkidar – ‘Do You Know Our Life?’

Ranjit Prasad Singh, 60, a security guard at a nationalised bank branch in Jharkhand, has a request for Chowkidar Modi: Take some steps for improving the working condition of his fraternity.

I have been working as a guard for several years now. My employers — Bank of India — pay me Rs 3,800 a month to guard the bank and safeguard public money. My employers believe this money is enough to run a family of seven. The truth is far from it.

We are barely able to manage on my meagre income. Even after we put together the income from our family farm and my elder son, who works for a private firm, we just cannot make ends meet. My younger son is still studying in college and it will take some time before he becomes an earning member. Till then we have to bear the expenses of his travel and tuition. I hope the unemployment situation changes by then.

I have read how Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his colleagues in the Union cabinet have started calling themselves #MainBhiChowkidar. I want to ask them if they have any idea what a chowkidar’s life is like. Yet, at the same time, I am glad that finally my profession has come under the limelight. Would you ever come here and talk to me, or try to know how low my salary is… and what are my living conditions were it not for the publicity generated by this chowkidar campaign?

However, Modiji needs to be cautious. He might call himself a chowkidar but he should remember he is the most powerful chowkidar in the country. He should immediately take steps for the upliftment of his fellow community, if he means it. A salary raise at regular intervals (especially for public-sector banks), post-retirement pension, leave etc. can go a long way towards our upliftment.  

Over the years, I have proven myself to be a good security guard. I haven’t been able to change my job because of health issues and the trust that my employers bestow on me. But that’s not enough, I need to be compensated monetarily too. ATM guards are paid more, because they are often retired defence personnel, with an arms licence. But like them, I too keep my eyes and ears open and deserve a better life. I hope chowkidar Narendra Modi takes note of our working condition and helps us out, if he returns to power.  

Security Gurad Ajit Speaks On BJP Campaign Main Bhi Chowkidar

RealChowkidar – ‘My Life Is Tough’

Ajit Bora, 49, who works as a security guard at a residential complex in Hyderabad, has heard of the BJP poll campaign but shrugs it off as a stunt. “The real ‘chowkidars’ have a difficult life,” he tells LokMarg.

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.

BJP's New Lollypop

RealChowkidar – ‘BJP’s New Lollypop’

Mahender Singh, 72, is an ex-serviceman employed at a mid-size hotel in Gwalior. He believes the chowkidar slogan is a political lollypop. Having said that, he believes that Indian Air Force strikes inside Pakistan territory have turned the tide in favour of the BJP.

A few days back my grandson showed me a video clip on his phone. It showed people from all walks of society singing ‘Main Bhi Chowkidar’, because they were inspired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi calling himself a chowkidar. Kuch jyada hi ho gaya (It was a bit over the top). Little do those hero-heroines in the video realise what it takes to be a security guard. Can anyone of them keep a watch for 12 hours every day, or work the whole night in rain and cold out in the open?

In the real world, outside political jumlebazi, people have little regard for a security guard. Have those men and women ever spoken to a guard politely? They merely expect us to open their car door and greet them with respect, without even bothering to return a smile. So there is little to get carried away by such videos; this is just advsertisement.

Like other governments, the Narendra Modi regime too has no great concern for people’s suffering. They work less but publicise big. I have faced tough times and training during my career in the Indian Army more than 35 years back. I am proud of the force and the way they have the welfare of its own people. That jazba (spirit) is missing in our political class.

But one thing has worked in favour of Narendra Modi – you can call it a stroke of luck if you want. Terrorists in Kashmir provided him an opportunity to prove his mettle to the country. After the Pulwama attack, the people were angry and Modi government sanctioned out brave Air Force to carry out strikes into Pakistan terror camps. This has had great effect on the voter’s mind. In our village and neighbouring areas, people says he is a strong leader and India needs him.

The large number of people who attended the last rites of CRPF jawans martyred in Kashmir is a point in case. The mahaul (atmosphere) of the nation wanted a counter attack on Pakistan and Modi delivered just that. You will see him return to power after 2019 Lok Sabha elections. But, let me tell you, little will change after that. Life for the common man will continue as ever. Sab aise hi chalegea.

It Mustn’t Remain Jumla

RealChowkidar – ‘It Mustn’t Remain Jumla’

Meet Ranjit Rai, a 36-year-old security guard from a small town in Jharkhand. He is thankful to Narendra Modi’s #MainBhiChowkidar campaign for bringing chokidars into the limelight.

I am an ATM security guard. I have been in the ‘security line’ for about a decade. So, yes I belong to the ‘chowkidar’ community that is in vogue now, be it television channels or political campaigns. Our Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s campaign may not have changed any ground situation for the ‘chowkidars’ but at least his slogan has put the spotlight on our thankless work.

Another positive thing is that now I find a little pride in saying that ‘main chowkidar hoon’; there is no longer any lowliness attached to my vocation. I find it surprisingly funny how it took a comment by the prime minister for people to finally spare a thought for the likes of us.

Hopefully, with so much debate about us these days, things will change for better when the new government is formed. I can only pray that ‘Chowkidar’ doesn’t remain a ‘chunaav ka jumla’ (political slogan).

Earlier, I used to work in a sweet shop. Those were hard times. As a security guard, my life improved a notch better. I work in an 8-hour-shift every day. I get my salary on time unlike many others. However, I continue to be a part of India’s vast unorganised sector. My salary is Rs 10,000 a month, which is just not enough to support a family of six (even in a small town like ours).

Both BJP and the Opposition have got a conversation started about the unorganized sector and I am thankful for that. However, I wouldn’t want my children to join this profession. Things move very slowly in the unorganised sector. I am trying to provide them with good education in the hope of a better future. However, sometimes it gets difficult to make ends meet. Our expenses are shooting through the roof and my salary is just not enough. Our work deserves respect. During demonetisation, it was us, the real chowkidars, who had to handle massive crowds of angry and impatient people. With the risk involved and the hectic schedule, our salaries should definitely be increased.

Whichever party forms the government, it needs to think about bringing us ‘chowkidars’ completely under the organised sector so that we get on-job facilities as well as post-retirement benefits. Besides this, functional CCTV cameras and air conditioners in ATMs, (especially in semi-urban and rural areas) would make our lives a tad easier.