Domestic workers are amongst the most exploited in India’s unorganised sector. Performing poorly paid and laborious work with little recognition from their employers, who often refer to them as ‘help’, and with no benefits from the state, they have suffered immensely during the series of lockdowns. Many were not paid salaries, lost jobs or faced reduced incomes. Increased precarity has translated into food insecurity and inability to meet basic needs such as making payment for rent and and children’s education.
Amidst this, the announcement by the Karnataka government to disburse a one-time payment of Rs 2,000 to 11 categories of unorganised workers, including domestic workers, under the Seva Sindhu Scheme appeared to be a welcome move. The reality of its implementation has, however, been disastrous, making a mockery of the scheme’s intentions.