In Pursuit Of A Better Life

Mahavir Rai, who works as a construction worker, recently understood how getting a BOCW card would help him secure a better future for his children.

35-year-old Mahavir Rai starts his day at 4 in the morning. He cooks breakfast and is ready to leave for work by 8 a.m. Mahavir works at the ATS construction site in Noida where he does shuttering work. “There are no fixed closing hours at work,” he said. 

What motivates Mahavir to do such hard manual labour day in and day out? “The hope for a better future. I want my four children, who are growing up in Begusarai (Bihar), to get access to quality education. I do not want them to do the kind of work I do. I want them to get a job when they grow up,” said Mahavir. 

As part of the REVIVE Alliance, Mahavir attended a UNDP-funded information session organised by Haqdarshak in early 2021, about the Building and Other Construction Workers (BOCW) card. The BOCW is a document that allows construction workers to access a host of welfare claims such as insurance, pension and medical assistance, among others — Mahavir quickly realised that having such an identity card would help him secure a better life for his children. 

“The session facilitators highlighted the benefits such a card can provide to the family members of construction workers in case of a mishap. It motivated me to get a labour card made,” said Mahavir. Typically, a worker needs to produce multiple documents (at least five) to get registered with the BOCW board. The complexity of the process itself forces many to not apply for the card. With end-to-end application and informational support provided during the camp, Mahavir said, “The documentation process was not cumbersome at all.” 

However, without this support, many workers from the construction sector are not aware of the card, the access to government schemes it provides or the process to apply for the same. “Unfortunately, most construction workers are not aware of the benefits they are entitled to.  I would urge all my fellow labourers who work in construction to get themselves a labour card so that in case of any adversity, their families can receive benefits like pension and insurance money,” said Mahavir.

This story was editorialised by Raveena Joseph