India – Construction and Unorganized Labor

When I see construction sites in India, it scares me. The feeling is too complex and I’m attempting to capture my thoughts.

One, the construction workers are mostly unorganized labor, poor, illiterate and that is a sure recipie for exploitation. On the other hand, most of the times, when I pass by the construction sites (roads, bridges etc.), I have never seen the supervisor around – which is scary – probably, they are acting per plan and probably, the ground labor knows what to do based on experience. But, with a process that is essentially composed of nil supervision and unorganized, poor labor are we surprised that the work overruns the stipulated time? And, we wonder why our bridges can’t stand the traffic they were put in place for, our roads have patches within 3 months of being laid out and our houses crack, leak and collapse and we don’t get our money’s worth?

Please don’t mistake me, I’m not against unorganized labor getting their livelihood, I’m just voicing my concern against the lack of supervision, against the apathy that prevents a thorough job from happening on our roads, bridges and buildings.

If all parts of the value chain in the work process are not cohorts to this apathy then, I’m sure there are things one can do as part of contractual clauses, like issuing the last check or the right to collect toll based on citizen satisfaction surveys, that could be put in place to ensure that our money as tax payers is valued and well utilized.

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