‘Out of a Job, Can’t Celebrate’: A Diwali Dampened by Unemployment

Here are the stories of those who are out of work and won’t be able to celebrate this Diwali as they would have.

Updated
India
3 min read

Reporters: Anthony Rozario, Arun Dev, Meghnad Bose, Manish Parmar, Yogesh Tyagi
Producers: Meghnad Bose, Shelly Walia
Video editor: Ashish Maccune

“I was fired citing the economic slowdown as a reason. I don’t have any money to go home for Diwali.”
Gurmeet Singh, former auto worker

Gurmeet is an auto worker who was laid off from his job earlier this year in Manesar, Haryana. He is one among lakhs of auto workers who have lost their jobs due to the massive slowdown in the industry and the economy at large.

Diwali won’t be the same for him this year. He laments, “earlier, I would buy clothes for my family members and take sweets home for them. But now, I have no will to go back home. All my hopes have been dashed. This slowdown is all I am left dealing with.”

Here are the stories of those, who, like Gurmeet, are out of work and won’t be able to celebrate this Diwali as they would have usually. From Surat in Gujarat, to Karantaka’s Peenya, from the auto hub of Manesar to Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh - this is the story of a Diwali dampened by job losses.

‘Don’t Want Diwali Bonus, Want My Livelihood Back’

I don’t want any Diwali bonus, I just want my livelihood back. How can we celebrate when we can’t make our children happy? This is going to be a black Diwali for us.
Reeta Rani, former Home Guard in Muzaffarnagar

Mitthan Singh faces a similar situation. He has been a Home Guard since 1989, but this October, he was told that he is being removed from duty. He asks, “Will my family celebrate Diwali like this? Without any money in the family? Ask the kids if you want to, even they will tell you.”

In the industrial hub of Peenya in Karnataka, a lot of manufacturing unit workers are staring at layoffs and unpaid salary dues.

Dayanand, one such manufacturing unit worker, says, “There won’t be any Diwali at home. We have not been paid yet. Even the 50 per cent of the salary they should pay, they have not paid.”

‘Struggling to Pay Kids’ School Fees, How Will We Celebrate Diwali?’

Mahesh Patel, a textile worker In Surat who is mostly out of work nowadays, is struggling to pay his children’s school fees. “There isn't as much work or income as before. We find it difficult to even pay the school fees, or manage the household expenses. How will we run the household if the income is low? How will we celebrate Diwali, if there is no money at home?”

In Mumbai, cameraperson Santosh Jagtap was laid off in December 2017. He has not found a suitable full-time job since. This year, the lack of financial security is making him cut down on the family’s Diwali expenses. “We would distribute sweets in 10 different houses, but this time we’ll give sweets to around four people only. We would buy Diwali crackers worth up to 8,000 to 10,000 rupees for our children, but even there we have to compromise a lot now.”

Prayer for a Job This Diwali

Rajeev Kumar Pandey, a former factory worker in Manesar, was fired from his job just a fortnight before Diwali. He says, “I’m still looking for work. But I am unable to find one. Anywhere. There is no other way out for me either.”

Santosh Jagtap concludes, “I’m praying to Goddess Lakshmi to bless me with opportunities to work, so that I can at least keep my family going. That is my prayer this Diwali.”

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