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ID cards offer protection for rural migrants to Ahmedabad

Laminated cards issued by the NGO Aajeevika Bureau enable migrants to open bank accounts and protect themselves from abusive employers. (Aajeevika Bureau)

In Ahmedabad and a handful of other Indian cities, a simple laminated identification card offers hope to migrant workers. Ankita Rao reports for the New York Times that the cards are issued by the nonprofit Aajeevika Bureau. The organization focuses on helping India’s more than 300 million migrants.

The low-tech IDs are only recognized by a few state governments in India. The cards enable migrants who flood cities in search of day labor to open bank accounts and access food subsidies. They’re also helpful when being questioned by police. Contractors who withhold or slash wages sometimes relent after migrants display the cards to highlight their affiliation with the nonprofit, Rao notes.   

In 2012, India launched a national ID card system that features biometric data, but according to the article, the program is riddled with corruption. About a third of India’s population, including many poor residents, have not signed up for the high-tech cards. 

New York Times

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