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#2 | Yugank - Living life by the grace of God.
Life of a gig worker - research series
“Morgan Housel” is the answer to the bizarre question of what if Buddha was a financial influencer? I have learnt a thing or two from his writings. In one of his exceptional pieces, he draws an intriguing parallel between luck and risk, painting them as two sides of the same coin. He articulates that risk occurs when well-intentioned choices meet unfortunate ends, while luck is the unexpected boon from a poor decision. These entities, he suggests, are mirrored cousins, driven by the same thing.
As I delved into the life narrative of Yugank (name changed), a Swiggy delivery rider, my thoughts were stirred. Here was a man, purchasing groceries and milk on credit, yet each day found a portion of his earnings funnelled into fantasy sports gambling. A cursory glance could deem his choices irrational. Yet, when the lens shifts from judgement to empathy, the pieces of this perplexing puzzle begin to fall into place, revealing a picture that’s far from what meets the eye initially.
(Note: To preserve the privacy and confidentiality of each individual, we took great care to mask their names and any other personally identifiable information. The interviews were conducted online in Hindi and translated into English. The transcript is minimally edited for a better reading experience)
Yugank, a 42-year-old Indore native, lives with his wife and two children. His 11-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son are students at a private school and his wife works as an ASHA worker in Anganwadi. The family's presence in Indore dates back 45 years his father decided to move to a city from the village. Yugank discontinued his education post-10th standard as he was more interested in farming. However, when his father relocated to the city, leaving their village farmland behind, his farming has become a distant dream. Yet, Yugank nurtures this aspiration, intending to fulfil it someday in the future.
Yugank is presently employed at Swiggy as a delivery executive, having been a part of the food delivery platform for the past five years. He is solely affiliated with Swiggy and does not engage with any other gig economy platforms.
Table of contents
Farming, a distant dream
Gambling my luck away
A Day in the Life
The debt trap
The cost of free delivery
1. Joining Swiggy
After dropping out of high school, where did you work?
I used to work at a dal mill where my primary responsibility was carrying loads. After that, I joined a medicine company where I was responsible for weighing medicines. Later on, I worked at Nutan Shop, an imitation jewellery store, where my duties included washing utensils with chemicals. Additionally, I also worked at a vegetable market, carrying loads. As time passed, I transitioned to different companies, often leaving a job for a better-paying opportunity. This led me to change jobs every six months to a year, continuously progressing in my career. However, I spent a solid five years working at Swiggy Company.
How did you come to know about Swiggy?
When new delivery companies began to emerge in Indore, I decided to attend an interview at another company called Zomato. A friend of mine had joined Zomato and informed me about their office, suggesting that I should apply for a job there. However, upon arriving at the office, I found a large crowd gathering. The owner of the building was shouting and expressing dissatisfaction, which led to the office being closed for the day. Unfortunately, I couldn't join on that particular day.
It was during this incident that I discovered another company called Swiggy had also opened offices. So I decided to visit. Fortunately, when I approached them, they informed me that there were vacancies available. They asked me to submit my documents and assured me that I would be hired. I submitted my documents and paid a deposit of Rs. 500 to the company.
2. Farming, a distant dream
Why did you drop out after 10th standard?
I only studied up to the 10th grade and did not pursue further education. I lacked interest in academics as I was more drawn towards farming. In the village, we used to own land. However, my father abandoned it and moved here to Indore. The village is actually nearby, just 150km away from Indore. Nonetheless, my father chose not to put in much effort and relocated to Indore. Despite my grandfather's repeated urging to engage in farming, my father preferred living in the city. Consequently, my aunt took possession of the land and promised to cultivate it for a few years, but she ultimately seized it. This incident occurred during the time of the Congress government, which had a rule stating that whoever engaged in farming would become the rightful owner of the land.
My father never allowed us to engage in farming activities, so I never had the chance to visit the village since then. Since childhood, I had a strong desire to pursue farming and nothing else. Even today, if I were to acquire some money, I would gladly leave the city and return to the village, as I dislike cities.
What do you like about farming?
Work is work; any mistake can lead to termination. If we make an error in our job, we can be fired, limiting our options. However, when it comes to farming and ancestral property, it's different. If we feel tired, unwell, or simply don't want to work on a particular day, no one can question us, right? This flexibility doesn't exist in a job. If we're required to go to work, we must go. On average, though, the outcome is the same whether you're working or engaged in farming, especially in terms of financial returns. The amount earned won't be less or more; it's just that in farming, you have to work around the clock, while in a job, there are fixed working hours. These are the fundamental differences.
3. Gambling my luck away
Do you work for some other app also?
No, I don't have any other jobs. I solely rely on testing my luck and nothing else. Have you heard of Dream11? I am trying my luck with it. I create a couple of teams every day, and that's about it. I believe that if I am lucky enough, I might be able to purchase land in the village and settle down there.
How much do you bet on Dream 11 daily?
I create a team with an investment of Rs. 49 daily, and I place bets on that team. Sometimes I create one team, sometimes two teams, and occasionally three teams. Each team requires an investment of Rs. 49. Therefore, when I create two to three teams, my daily investment amounts to Rs. 100 to Rs. 200.
Have you had any luck at winning?
No, I haven't. I have lost approximately Rs. 15,000 to Rs. 20,000 on that platform. Nevertheless, I continue to place bets on the app because I believe it's the only way for me to accumulate enough funds to buy land. Significant income can only be generated through such avenues. You cannot earn a substantial income through conventional work like mine.
I solely rely on testing my luck and nothing else. Have you heard of Dream11? I am trying my luck with it. I create a couple of teams every day, and that's about it. I believe that if I am lucky enough, I might be able to purchase land in the village and settle down there.
What are you hoping to win with Dream 11?
If I were to receive Rs. 50 lakh in one go, I could at least purchase 3 to 4 acres of land in the village. Assuming I can buy one acre for 10 lakh, I would invest in 3 to 4 acres and engage in farming on that land.
Since when have you been playing on Dream 11?
It’s been two years and I play daily
How did you come to know about Dream 11?
I saw an advertisement on TV for a video that caught my attention, so I downloaded it. I learned how to create a team from that video, and I have been doing it ever since.
Has any friend of yours or do you know anybody who has won money in this?
I haven’t seen anybody win money to date. I had seen only one get 10,000. I had heard of one from Khandwa, there was news in the newspaper sometime back, he had won money. I think he won 1 crore.
4. A Day in the Life
How about you tell me a day in your life or let’s say what was your routine like for you yesterday?
I started working at 12:00 PM and finished at 11:00 PM at night. Unfortunately, I didn't have lunch during that time. I have my meal in the morning before leaving home. Throughout the day, I have snacks to keep myself fueled. Around 5 PM, I can have various snacks like samosa, kachori, or pohe. Although we have designated lunch breaks, we can temporarily pause our duties and resume work for half an hour or an hour. If there are no orders during duty time, we can also eat at that time. Additionally, if there is a no orders for more than half an hour, I simply rest on my bike.
Where do you rest?
I park my vehicle with the double stand and use it as a sleeping spot. I place my bag at the back, stretch my legs towards the front, position my back in the centre, and rest my head on top of the bag. I then close my eyes and lie down in that position.
Do you have a fixed place where you wait for new orders?
Yes, I wait in the vicinity where we receive orders from. I put the vehicle on the main stand and take a nap. Whenever we receive an order, we can hear the notification sound.
5. The debt trap
What is your weekly and monthly income? Does anyone in your family also earn?
I get around ₹5000-6000 on a weekly basis. I also take off one day in the week between Monday to Wednesday. So ₹5000-6000 is the maximum I have made in a week which you can say monthly I earn ₹20,000- 25,000. My wife is a ASHA worker at an Anganwadi. She earns ₹8000 monthly.
What are your monthly expenses like?
You tend to spend more if you have more money. We have some instalments that we need to pay. I had taken money to build the house so, I have to pay for that. I had taken a loan so, I repay that every month. So, most of my money goes into loans. I pay ₹30,000 to ₹35,000 for a loan. I have taken around 4 to 5 lakh in loans. I have to pay the installment for all the loans. Some are ₹8,000, some are ₹3,000, and some are ₹4,000. I will complete that in two to three years. Right now I am just managing by doing ‘Iski topi uske sar’, I would take a loan from one place and pay the other. That is how life is going on right now. I had taken loans of amounts ₹50000,₹80000, 1 lakh and 2 lakhs. I have paid 10 installments for some, some I have paid 15 so, it will be completed in three to four years.
So the loan is your biggest expense. Apart from it what are your other expenses and how do you manage them?
School fees is around ₹2000 monthly for both of my kids. Groceries stuff also we take on credit. We take stuff from groceries store and then we pay them within a month or two. Even if we take milk on credit, we pay for milk credits after five or six months. If necessary then we take loans of around Rs. 20,000 to 50,000 from Milkman. We take a loan from Milkman then within six months we pay it back. He is from the Khati community, so he has lots of money. A few months back I had taken around Rs. 20,000 then I paid back him after two months. Even credit for milk also runs like that, after six months if I have taken Rs. 5,000 milk then we will pay at the same time. So, it is the same for groceries items if we need money then we take it from them if we are also in need of Rs 10,000 to 20,000 from them. These are your credit, it’s the reputation you created for yourself. When COVID-19 was there at that time we didn’t have any money, the grocery store owner even gave us groceries on credit to us and also said that if we want more then we can take it. Milkman also said that if we don’t have money then take it from me, said run your family nicely. Even mobile recharge we do it on a credit.
Are you able to save anything?
No, we are unable to save anything. Our lives will continue in the same manner, by the grace of God. Every morning, I wake up and pray, acknowledging that everything I have belongs to God. I trust that He will take care of everything. We live our lives, relying on the grace of God.
6. The cost of free delivery
What made you stick with Swiggy for five years?
We have to provide for our families. My son used to say, "Today I want to eat pizza," and in order to fulfill his wishes, I have to earn. I have been working here for five years, and now I prefer not to seek employment elsewhere. In these five years, I haven't gone anywhere else.
Would you recommend this kind of job to others?
This job is meant for those who have nothing else. I have witnessed several accidents right before my eyes involving young boys who were pursuing their studies while working for Swiggy or Zomato. I have personally seen three accidents occur. What I am trying to say is that they should not have chosen this job. They had everything back in their villages, and even in the city, they had all they needed. They had other job options, and their father had a secure government job. They had houses and everything. Even if they were working elsewhere, they still decided to take up night shifts with Swiggy to earn more money. Unfortunately, instead of earning, many of them met with accidents. Some suffered limb injuries or fractures. We had one boy who experienced three accidents, and during the third one, he fractured his hand. Now, he can't do anything. There was another person who worked in another place during the day and worked for Swiggy at night around 2 o'clock. He ended up fracturing his legs, and I was present at that time as well.
You can never predict when death will come. Suppose I go out in the morning; I don't know if I would come back alive, I might suddenly pass away. My family would just receive the message that I died. Anything can happen.
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