For His Family’s Happiness

Daud Shaikh, who loves his family and constantly travels across State lines to spend time with them, recently realised how identity documents can add value to his life

In 2011, Daud Shaikh, then an 18-year-old farmer, migrated from his village in Jharkhand to Mumbai. He managed to find work as a construction worker in the city. Ten years on, Daud works as a mason at the Shapoorji Pallonji construction site in Powai, Mumbai. 

Prior to his marriage, he used to stay in the city for one-two years at a stretch. Now a father of three, he shuttles between his village and the city every three-four months despite his economic compulsions. “I usually stay at home for a month or so. I do this for my family’s happiness,” explained Daud. 

Daud’s constant movement across state lines necessitates specific central identity documents like the PAN and Aadhar card to be in place. For a construction worker, a PAN card acts as a vital KYC (Know Your Customer) document and serves as the basis for Direct Benefit Transfers (DBT) from the government. It is also beneficial for processing other scheme applications.

As part of the REVIVE Alliance, the UNDP-funded information camp organised by Haqdarshak allowed him to recognise the value in having a PAN card. “I did not have a PAN card before. Other construction workers at my site had one, so I thought I should get one too,” said Daud. The REVIVE team helped facilitate Daud’s application.  

Additionally, the session also exposed Daud to the importance of an updated Aadhaar card, another critical document. His Aadhar card did not have a registered mobile number associated with it, which becomes necessary for any authentication service and serves as the basis for multiple government entitlements. 

The facilitators at the camp helped him with this as well. Even though a small change, an update in Aadhar details will lead to a significant value add for Daud in the future. With the two new linkages, Daud is better placed to access government benefits.

This story was editorialised by Raveena Joseph

The Dreams of an 18-Year-Old Migrant Worker

Ibrahim wants to earn more money, get a better job, and have a family, but the COVID-19 pandemic has made his goals harder to achieve.

Eldest of 8 siblings, Ibrahim moved from his hometown in Kathiya district in Bihar to Delhi, in February 2020. Fresh out of high school, he migrated to the big city hoping to earn money to supplement the income of his father, who works as a daily wager in Bihar. Soon after he managed to find a job as a construction worker at a site in Gurgaon, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and all construction activities were banned. Ibrahim, who was then barely 17, was thrown into unprecedented uncertainty. “We faced a lot of issues at that time. There was no work. Everything became costly. Food was an issue. After the lockdown, I lost work and had to go back home in a truck. It took me 6-7 days to reach home. I had no work or source of income for 3-4 months,” recounted Ibrahim. 

When he finally managed to return to his hometown, he realised that his situation was not unique. “People around me had similar experiences. My father also wasn’t called for work. Money was tight,” said Ibrahim. After 4 months, he finally returned to Haryana to resume work at the construction site. He typically works 8-hours a day doing hard labour, but worries if working this job and hoping the situation will improve is enough. “I want to earn more money, get a better job, get married and have a family. But I’m the only earning member in my family now, so I’m not sure if I’ll be able to achieve these goals,” said Ibrahim. 

Even though he had been working for over a year, Ibrahim didn’t have a bank account. He had heard about the government’s Jan Dhan Yojana but had no idea how to go about opening an account under the scheme. In February 2021, when a social protection scheme linkages camp for construction workers was conducted by the REVIVE Alliance, he understood the details of the scheme for the first time and realised the value of a zero-balance account. 

“The documentation process was easy. I got a PAN card and Jan Dhan account. I think this will be very beneficial in the long-run — I keep money in the bank account and can use the PAN card to get my KYC (Know Your Customer) done,” said Ibrahim, who is glad to have his salary now credited to his bank account directly.

With the support of REVIVE, Ibrahim is now part of the formal banking system. This will ensure he has access to financial services, and timely, adequate and low-cost credit when required. It will also contribute to helping this 18-year-old work towards his goals with greater support and resilience.

This story was editorialised by Raveena Joseph

Creating a PAN Card Creates Value For Us

Sudam Kumar, who recently received his PAN card, is looking forward to the benefits and support the identity document will provide construction workers like himself

Sudam Kumar, who used to be a farmer in Bihar, decided to leave his hometown with his family when he turned 18, so that he could find a better livelihood in the big city. He arrived in Noida in 2014 as a migrant worker, and eventually found work in the construction industry. When the COVID-19 lockdown was enforced in 2020, Sudam’s family moved back to their village. He stayed back in Uttar Pradesh to earn a livelihood and support the education of his son, who is continuing his schooling in Bihar.

As a construction worker working at an ATS Infrastructure Limited site, Sudam was missing a labour card that validated his employment in the construction industry for four years. A Building and Other Construction Workers (BOCW) card becomes a worker’s entry point to a multitude of government schemes that s/he could benefit from.

In early February 2021, the REVIVE Alliance team visited the ATS site where Sudam worked in Noida to facilitate social protection scheme linkages for construction workers. Sudam chose to apply not just for a labour card, but also a PAN card. “I realised that creating a PAN card creates value for us,” said Sudam.

Interactions with the REVIVE team contributed to his choice. Reflecting on those conversations, he said, “I realised that if I ever change my workplace, this form of identity documentation would be very helpful.” A PAN card, for a construction worker, acts as a critical KYC (Know Your Customer) document and serves as the basis for Direct Benefit Transfers (DBT) from the government. It is also very useful for processing other scheme applications.

“I’m so glad the REVIVE and ATS team took the effort to nudge me and my co-workers to apply for these documents. They will aid our development in the long-run,” says Sudam. He is one among countless migrant construction workers across the country — unlike Sudam, most of them are yet to gain access to basic identity documents. The REVIVE Alliance strives to bridge this gap through its holistic intervention tools for livelihood recovery.

This story was editorialised by Raveena Joseph

All For Her Daughter

Sonu Kumari, a single mother who works as a construction worker in Uttar Pradesh, discovered that understanding her government scheme entitlements will open up a world of opportunities

When Sonu Kumari’s marriage ended, she realized that she had to support herself and her daughter. She had never participated in market activities earlier and as a housewife, had only been engaged in unpaid domestic work. As a 27-year-old single mother and migrant living in Noida, she knew very little about the work ecosystem and opportunities available. She joined ATS Infrastructure Limited as a construction worker with the hope of earning enough to support herself and her daughter, who lived away from her, in their home village.

Every day, Sonu would spend eight hours at a developer site, engaged in brick-laying and other construction work. At the end of each work day, she would plan her finances to ensure that she was earning enough to support her daughter.

A resilient and hard-working single mother, Sonu won the respect of her peers over time. After five years working at the construction site, she was given supervisory responsibilities as well. But, Kumari lacked what is an integral necessity for every construction worker in India — a labour card.

“I didn’t know there were benefits to enrolling for a Building and Other Construction Workers (BOCW) card,” said Kumari, highlighting the information gaps on entitlements that exist among workers despite years of working within the infrastructure ecosystem. But why does this gap exist? “Ever since I started working in construction, I’ve noticed that people don’t even spare 10 minutes to talk,” she explained.

In February 2021, when the REVIVE Alliance team visited ATS to set up a social protection scheme linkage camp, they facilitated Sonu’s application for a BOCW card. “It was easy and quick to submit my application with the help of the ATS support staff. I feel like I know so much more about the government schemes I can avail now,” said Sonu.

Sonu is now formally registered as a construction worker in Uttar Pradesh. Due to the disruptions of the second wave that compounded her livelihood stressors, Sonu is still worried about how to make ends meet. Yet, she is so grateful to have gained access to multiple schemes through the BOCW card, which can help her support her daughter in the way she has always hoped. “I now understand that I am eligible for multiple schemes like medical claims and education support, and I want to use that to build a life for my daughter.”

This story was editorialised by Raveena Joseph

Samhita’s Collection of Stories of Change

Imagine a day when women in our country will have absolute agency to take decisions in their personal life and to flourish professionally. Imagine a day when access to quality medical-facilities will not be a luxury reserved for the elite. Imagine a day when India’s populace will be so educated and skilled that it will not need to worry about rotikapdamakaan: Instead it will be able to climb to the higher rungs of Maslow’s pyramid. We, at Samhita, work to see that day.

Gandhiji said: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” In that spirit, we strive for the day to arrive sooner. We agree that the above scenario constitutes a remarkable change. It’s more like a metamorphosis reflected on the cover of this book. Nevertheless, we are committed to help solve wicked socio-economic problems in our little ways.

Often, change is not fully grasped through numbers given the colossal issues we face. Here, stories of change serve as a beacon which spotlight the real lives impacted.

This is a collection of stories of change representative of the year gone by. These stories are divided into four segments:

  1. Change in People: These accounts of transformation in our beneficiaries’ lives, is what keeps us going.
  2. Change in Places: A corollary to the above segment, these stories give a sense of varied geographies reached.
  3. Change in Partners: This section chronicles the symbiotic relationship we share with our partners.
  4. Change in Processes: This part documents our efforts to bring about systemic shift to impact the entire ecosystem such that change sustains for a period beyond our intervention.

We hope that in the following pages, you meet someone whose perseverance inspires you, you travel to a place which is unlike any place you’ve travelled to, you partner with someone to support a cause area close to your heart, and you recognize the beauty in the interconnectedness of an ecosystem.

The Life-Saving Labour Card

Construction worker Kundan Prasad is thankful to have had a labour card before the onset of the pandemic, because it enabled him to sustain his family through the lockdowns even when he had no means to earn a livelihood.

Kundan Prasad is a 30-year-old construction labourer at a site in Noida. He moved to the National Capital Region in 2015, from the Latehar district in Jharkhand, in the hope of financially supporting his family of six. “I’ve been a construction worker for over 5 years, but I’ve never seen a ban on construction activity till the pandemic hit,” said Kundan. 

When the lockdown was announced, Kundan, like thousands of other migrants, had to walk back home. Worried about the lack of income and unable to find work back in the village, Kundan was losing hope. But the labour card came to his rescue. 

Kundan got his labour card, formally known as the Building and Other Construction Workers (BOCW) card — an official document that validates his employment in the construction industry and provides him access to a host of government schemes and benefits — when he joined the ATS construction site in Noida. During the tough months of the lockdown, he received a cash transfer of ₹2000 rupees for his sustenance expenses, thanks to his labour card. “This money was very useful when I had no source of income. My family and I survived on that money,” he said. 

When he returned to Delhi to resume work, he knew he had to get his labour card renewed for future Direct Benefit Transfers (DBTs). Luckily, Kundan was aware of this and was supported with his application. As part of the REVIVE Alliance, the UNDP-funded information session held by Haqdarshak served as a useful guide in renewing his BOCW card for another year. 

He had also lost his PAN card on his journey back home during the lockdown. The REVIVE team assisted him in getting a new PAN card, which acts as a critical KYC (Know Your Customer) document and serves as the basis for DBTs from the government. “Thanks to the renewed BOCW card and the PAN card, I’m less worried about the next lockdown,” said Kundan.

This story was editorialised by Raveena Joseph

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

The Story of a Fighter

Meet Beautician Bano, a fiercely determined entrepreneur and mother of three, who rose above all odds from sweeping a beauty parlour to owning her own.

Since she was a child, Fairoza was fond of studying and learning new things; but due to familial constraints, she was unable to pursue her dreams of being educated. She was married at the age of 16.

Unfortunately, her marriage was not a happy one. For 12 years Fairoza’s husband, who worked as a rickshaw driver, subjected her to verbal and physical abuse. She described herself as being “treated like a slave”.

Pregnant with her third child and having had enough, she took her two children and packed her bags to leave her husband for good. When she went back to her parents, she did not receive the kind of support that she had hoped for or needed — they were struggling financially and could not afford to feed three more mouths.

When everything seemed to be stacked against her, Fairoza tapped into her inner strength and resolved to tide over the tough times. Only two months after delivering her youngest child, Fairzo started working as a sweeper to support her three children.

Soon, she found employment as housekeeping staff at a beauty parlour. Fairoza was fascinated by all the activities that unfolded in her new place of employment — intricate mehendi designs, precise eyebrow threading, manicures, pedicures and fancy hairstyling. Soon, Fairoza found herself nurturing a new dream — she wanted to own her own beauty parlour someday. In preparation, she would spend hours at the parlour observing the staff and absorbing everything she saw.

But there were many sceptics: How can a sweeper ever hope to learn the intricacies of the beauty business, they would say behind her back. But none of this deterred Fairoza; she was determined to prove them wrong.

She found her opportunity through the Godrej’s Salon-i program, where she not only learnt beauty skills but also other aspects of business management like customer relationship management, timely service delivery and maintaining hygiene standards. Armed with her new knowledge and skills, Fairoza began a beauty parlour in the premises of her house and nurtured a loyal customer base. With the income from her beauty parlour, she was financially self-sufficient, and able to provide for the education of her three children.

However, within a few months, in March 2020, a National lockdown induced by the COVID-19 pandemic forced her to shut down her parlour. Left without her only source of livelihood, Fairoza found herself in a rut yet again. This is when, through Godrej, she was introduced to the REVIVE Alliance.

Through REVIVE, Fairoza received a returnable grant — a no-interest, zero-collateral loan — that helped restart her business after months of economic inactivity. The grant allowed her to purchase resources and amp up her parlour’s hygiene measures to win customer confidence.

Now, she aptly introduces herself as “Beautician Bano” and aspires to start a second salon along with a new textile business. Learning from her own struggles and recognising those of other women like her, Fairoza dreams to provide free training to underprivileged women so that they can triumph over the setbacks in their lives. She aspires to create a path for others like herself to become strong and independent.

This story was editorialised by Raveena Joseph

Business Is Not A One-Time Activity

Self-dependent, resilient and driven, Santosh Sharma and her husband Rajinder Sharma continue to face challenges with grit despite multiple challenges.

Mrs. Santosh Sharma, 37, runs a manufacturing business along with her husband Rajinder Sharma (both of them are orthopaedically challenged) from their home in Delhi. They manufacture and sell various types of hand-made and machine-made cotton wicks and other essential pooja items (festival products) via B2B and B2C channels, exhibitions, and online sales channels like Indiamart and Instamojo.

The establishment of their business in 2018 was closely tied with support from ATPAR (, an organization that provides Entrepreneurship Development and Mentoring  support to entrepreneurs with disabilities. They decided to start this home-based manufacturing enterprise after they attended an Entrepreneurship Development Training session conducted by ATPAR where they learned the manufacturing process. Santosh and Rajinder Sharma have grown to have three people under their employment in the time since, and have started getting international orders, while continuing to receive ATPAR’s mentoring and handholding support.

Their business, understandably, has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic; they’ve seen a dramatic drop in the number of orders they receive and the few customers who do place orders are not consistent. So, the couple has had to scale back the level of operations to a bare minimum. The cost of critical raw materials have also increased by up to 20%. Yet, they persevere and remain future-focused. “Customers are few and not consistent, but business is not a one-time activity — it is an on-going process. Everyday, you have to find a new customer and keep trying,” said Santosh. 

The REVIVE Alliance partnered with ATPAR’s initiative NEDAR, a Network of   Entrepreneurs with Disabilities, during the pandemic, for a couple of important reasons: 1. These entrepreneurs face several intersectional challenges with regards to disability and gender, and 2. They are vulnerable members of the informal sector. The Sharmas received a returnable grant from REVIVE for ₹40,000 (USD 538) in March 2021.

However, soon after, the devastating second wave of the pandemic affected their business. The couple had to adopt a conservative approach, spending only as much as the limited order pipeline allowed. REVIVE offered a deferment on repayments on the Returnable Grant at the onset of the second wave, which supported the couple in planning ahead. The success of the REVIVE program is incumbent upon the participants’ resilience and drive to get back to work. For instance, as their business recovered, the Sharmas increasingly planned to leverage online platforms such as Indiamart to sell their products. “Self-dependency or atmanirbhar means you don’t spoon feed people. They have to have the passion to be self-dependent. You have to decide you want to do this. Otherwise, people will continue to exploit you one way or another,” said Rajinder.

This story was editorialised by Raveena Joseph

I’m Happy I’m Able To Do Something On My Own

Warli artisan Yamini is proud to be an earning member of her family in a time of crisis, and hopes to inspire her sons to be independent and resilient.

Yamini, who had started out as a tailor, now has additional skills to boast about. A 35-year-old from Maharashtra, Yamini migrated from her home village, Jalgaon Jilla, to the city of Bhiwandi to earn a better livelihood.

Through her Bachat Gat (Self Help Group), she started attending the stitching training workshops conducted by TISSER in 2018. Having worked as a tailor, she was used to stitching blouses and saree falls (a piece of clothing attached to the hem of a saree), but with additional training she learnt to make newer pieces of clothing like jackets etc. It was in one such training session that TISSER representatives introduced her to Warli art. 

Her husband, the primary breadwinner of the family, works as a driver for private cab service companies. His monthly income of around ₹15,000 was insufficient for family expenses, including the education of their two sons, which eventually required them to rely on informal money lenders. 

The uncertainty created by COVID-19 and the fear of her husband’s livelihood loss due to lockdowns spurred Yamini’s decision to build her skills and learn Warli art as part of a skilling initiative by the REVIVE Alliance. Through TISSER, she received production orders, which opened up a new avenue of income. When Yamini became able to supplement the family’s income with ₹2000-₹4000, she felt a sense of accomplishment. 

Yamini has come a long way in her journey as an artisan – not only as an artist but also as a trainer. She has trained about 40 women artisans in Warli designs. They do wall frames, odhani work, kurta designs, etc. “On some days, household chores take up a lot of time and I get free only by midnight. Then I have to stay up at night to finish the work. But as soon as I send in the work, TISSER sends me the payment. The more intricate and unique the designs I do, the more money I make,” said Yamini. 

Yamini has found the work-from-home arrangements lonely. She’s used to working collaboratively with other women artisans. But she’s glad for the example she’s setting for her sons. “I’m happy I am able to do something on my own. We haven’t taken any money from anyone; we’ve earned everything we have on our own. I want my sons to learn the same and be able to stand on their feet,” said Yamini.

This story was editorialised by Raveena Joseph