NEW DELHI — As India’s economy grew, the buzz of factories transformed the sleepy, dusty village of Manesar into a booming industrial hub, churning out everything from cars and sinks to smartphones and tablets. But jobs have become scarce over the years, prompting more and more workers to queue along the road for work, desperate to earn money.
Every day, Sugna, a young woman in her twenties who goes by her first name, comes with her husband and two children to the city’s work chowk – a bazaar at the junction of four roads where hundreds of workers gather every day at dawn to plead for work. It has been days since she or her husband found a job and she only has five rupees (six cents) on hand.
Scenes like this are a daily reality for millions of Indians, the most visible signs of economic distress in a country where raging unemployment is deepening insecurity and inequality between rich and poor. This is perhaps Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s biggest challenge as the country celebrates 75 years of independence from British rule on Monday.