Sudha earns around Rs 7,000 a month as a garment factory worker in Bangalore, but almost half goes to pay the rent. She has two school-going children and, invariably, borrows to meet her other expenses. “If I do enough overtime I might be able to clear my debts,” says she. “We work for our provident fund. That’s why we trudge on.”
Officially, retirement is at 58 but Sudha, like many subscribers of the Employees Provident Fund Office’s PF scheme, isn’t sure she will work that long. Hours are tough and pay, typically, low. Many women quit early. Often, when they quit, or switch jobs, they withdraw PF savings and spend it on what they consider important. For instance, Sudha once drew Rs 1.3 lakh to buy jewellery and pay off debts. Next, she wants to use her PF to educate her children and pay off a fresh set of loans. She would also love to buy land for a house.