Shailendra Rishi

Shailendra Rishi, 28, is one of the estimated 52 million people who find employment in India’s US$ 157 million construction sector. The construction sector contributes 7.7% of India’s Gross Domestic Product and absorbs 11.3% of its total labour force. Shailendra’s family owns less than one acre of agricultural land. They lease a further 0.8 acres from a farmer in their village, who also doubles as a labour contractor. Occasionally, they labour on other farmers’ fields to supplement their incomes. Shailendra and his brothers build gurdwaras (Sikh temples) in Punjab, moving between its many towns and villages as they do so. Other members of his family work in the neighbouring State of Jammu and Kashmir. He is from the Rishideo community, a community that continues to be stigmatised by others as ‘untouchable’.


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