Delhi Diary: India's Domestic Helpers Need New Social Contract

Last update: 17/07/2017

By Shakir Husain

Shakir Husain, BERNAMA's correspondent in India shares his take on the New Delhi capital city and its unique social narrative.

NEW DELHI (Bernama) -- Doing hard work for low pay is normal for India's domestic helpers. Most of them have accepted their circumstances in India's social hierarchy.

Cleaners, cooks, maids and many others who get informal work from middle-class and affluent households in major Indian cities mostly go about their lives quietly. Complaints about bad working conditions are not tolerated.

However, things must improve for domestic workers if India is to avoid serious social tensions in the coming years as the country's rapid economic growth is fuelling consumerism-driven lifestyles as well widening class inequalities.

A widely reported incident of mob violence at a "posh" housing society in Noida, one of Delhi's satellite towns, a few days ago highlights the problem.

A woman domestic helper was allegedly beaten up and detained at her employer's home. When she was reported "missing", a group of people from her community surrounded the enclave of residential towers.....