Rajiv Khandelwal, Aajeevika Bureau

Rajiv Khandelwal

Connect Source + Destination. Support Migrant Workers Holistically

Rajiv Khandelwal, Aajeevika Bureau| India | 2005
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Solution Example:

With few economic opportunities in their home villages, the rural poor are increasingly moving to small and large urban areas in search of jobs. Indeed, two out of every ten Indians have migrated across state lines,17 including 11 million who are employed in the textile industry.18 Most migrants belong to the bottom of the social ladder, facing long work hours, ill-treatment from employers, low wages, no permanent shelter and absolutely no access to services such as health, finance, or legal aid. Without proper documentation and registration, it is di cult to protect and empower these migrant workers.

There is no written documentation, no formal contracts. There is no transparent understanding of how much people will be paid or of social security. These people don’t typically organize, unionize, or collectivize. That is why we call this the unorganized sector."

Aajeevika Bureau provides a holistic approach to the protection of the livelihoods and dignity of migrants and reinforces their valid identity as legitimate contributors to the nation’s economy. The organization simultaneously addresses push and pull factors, by working both at migrants’ points of departure and their destinations. At points of departure, Khandelwal o ers skilled job training, help with job search and placement and ongoing support for workers’ families. Destination services include shelter, health and financial services, as well as legal literacy, mediation services and support forming flexible unions. One of the most unique components of Aajeevika Bureau’s work is its issue of identity cards which migrants can use for legal status, protection and job referrals. The cards also allow the Bureau to maintain a database of migrants, which supports its research e orts as part of the Center for Migration and Labor Studies, influences government policies and informs the Bureau’s service o erings. In this way, Khandelwal’s all-inclusive approach grants migrants access to the previously inaccessible formal sociopolitical, legal and economic systems, transforming the viability of migrant labor and the wellbeing of rural communities.

Our services reduce the hardships that migrant workers face, create long- term social protection for them and also, enable them to connect for better bargaining, mutual support, or solidarity.”



  • To date, 100,000 migrant workers have acquired identity cards and 5,000 have received skills training. 1,138 cases have been resolved through mediation, with close to Rs 20 million settled in favor of the workers. 4,000 migrant households receive financial services through Aajeevika Bureau’s partner, the Rajasthan Shram Sarathi Association (RSSA).
  • In response to demands for formalization, Aajeevika has promoted 34 workers’ collectives and three registered trade unions with membership of around 15,000 workers.
  • Currently a total of 30 organizations spread across nine states of India are implementing Aajeevika Bureau’s model.