BNP Gruha Karya Mitra – A Brief Overview
BNP launched the Gruha Karya Mitra campaign in July 2021, for the purpose of helping and enabling domestic workers of Bengaluru to avail of the Covid 19 Relief scheme, announced by the Government of Karnataka. With the help of a volunteer team created for the purpose, BNP reached out to over 750 domestic workers in Bangalore and filed applications successfully on their behalf. Of these, over 450 applicants’ requests have been successfully accepted.
In the last one and a half years, Covid 19 affected many of us, especially the vulnerable, under-privileged sections of our society. The lockdowns took away the livelihoods of many of them or reduced their incomes drastically. Among them, were daily wage earners, auto/cab drivers, domestic workers, etc.
During the lockdowns, many domestic workers were not allowed to enter the communities where they were employed. Some lost their jobs as their employers thought that it would be too risky to allow them into their homes. Others were not paid for the days that they could not work. Thus, the lives of domestic workers went from bad to worse.
Taking note of this, the Labour Dept., Govt of Karnataka announced a ONE TIME Covid Relief Fund of INR 2000 for 11 categories in the unorganised sector, which included domestic workers.
However, while the intentions of the government were good, as with most other schemes floated time and again by it, the implementation left much to be desired. Availing of the relief was not an easy process at all. It required each applicant to fill in and submit a form along with supporting documents. This process posed a lot of difficulties domestic workers who in most cases, did not have the knowledge and skills to do so.
Realising this, BNP, whose focus is to work for the betterment of citizens, initiated a campaign called BNP Gruha Karya Mitra. This campaign was aimed at helping and enabling domestic workers to avail of the Government Covid Relief.
The Unfolding of the Campaign
The BNP Campaigns Team analysed the application process closely and discovered the following facts:
The following list of documents was required from each applicant
Karnataka BPL card
Bank Passbook Copy
When the relief scheme was launched initially, the Employment Certificate required a seal and signature from a gazetted officer. BNP found that this rather uncalled-for-process, came with the following challenges:
One needed to physically go to the BBMP’s office to find a gazette officer to request them for their signature. Given that the officers are seldom present in the office, this was not an easy task by any means.
Even If one did contact the officer outside their officer premises and they obliged by signing on the form, the BBMP office had to be visited again to get the seal stamped on it!
Given that he gazetted officer in question, in all probability, would neither be familiar with the domestic worker nor his/her employer, his/her seal/signature does not make sense as a proof of validity of the applicant.
Gazetted officers have been found to be unwilling to sign forms in bulk.
Once the form is filled one then has to scan upload it onto a website.
BNP also discovered these additional issues with the above application process:
The need for the employment certificate to be signed by the officer makes it hard for many thousands of workers.
Not easy to decentralize the execution of scheme.
This makes the process needlessly tedious and slow.
Availability of Officers to Sign: Most of the officers are on Covid Duty and are not available in office.
Non availability of public transport during that time due to Covid restrictions.
Travelling physically to a BBMP office was very difficult.
Physical visits to the BBMP office came with their own Covid risks.
Finding a gazetted officer poses a challenge to many.
Lack of comprehensive data about existing domestic workers.
The Silver Lining
Wanting to make the process of filing an application for Covid relief smoother, BNP interacted with various NGOs who were also working on the same cause. A PIL from an NGO helped in this regard and the High Court ruled in favour of a simpler process of application.
The court ruled that only an Employer Certificate attested by the concerned employer of the worker, along with his/her ID proof would suffice. This simplified process certainly made the application process far easier and helped BNP to help a large number of domestic workers apply for the Covid relief.
BNP ‘s Gruha Karya Mitra Campaign, enabled the details of the domestic workers to be uploaded into the BNP portal in a simple and straightforward manner. Using these details, applications on behalf of each of the domestic workers, were then uploaded into the BBMP portal by the BNP volunteers.
Success is Sweet!
We are happy to say that we received over 800 requests, out of which we successfully uploaded applications for 450 of them in the government’s Seva Sindhu portal.
However, some challenges still existed. Here were some of them:
Some documents which were uploaded on the BNP portal were found to be invalid.
The Employer Certificate was omitted or incomplete in some cases
Incorrect Aadhar numbers were entered.
Bank details of some domestic workers were incomplete.
Some entries had invalid BPL cards.
(To their credit, in all the above cases, the BNP team tried its best to revert to the applicants or their employers, in order to get the errors corrected.)
Another major hurdle was the Seva Sindhu portal of the Karnataka Government itself (into which the BNP team had to upload applications on behalf of each domestic worker). The team found that, though the portal is fairly simple and straight forward, it was still not easy enough for a domestic worker to understand and use.
Given below are the list of issues encountered in using the Seva Sindhu portal:
Dependency on other apps.
The Seva Sidhu Portal is dependent on many other applications like those for Aadhar, BPL cards, etc. If any of these applications did not function at the point of time of filling out an application on the portal, then the auto-population features based on them (namely, the Adhaar card, etc) did not work. This meant that many a time, the data had to be entered manually.
The error messages given, are often not easy to understand.
This posed a problem in identifying and correcting errors.
Slowness of response time of the portal.
Thanks to this the time taken to successfully upload an is unnecessarily long.
The Method …..behind the Madness!
Steps involved in the successful execution of the campaign:
As with all our other campaigns, BNP called for volunteers among BNP members/supporters
The requests that had come in, were then allocated to the individual volunteers.
The BNP core team members offered knowledge and technical support to the team.
And Last but not the Least……
Dear friends, this was the story behind yet another successful campaign by BNP, Gruha Karya Mitra. The Campaigns Team thanks you all for your continued support and looks forward to many more such opportunities to make a difference to the citizens of Bengaluru!