For the last couple of weeks every news channels is focussing on the apathy of the migrating labourers. This inspired me to weave my thoughts and insights into alphabets virtually.
Every year, millions of people migrate from their native places in search of bread earning job. These migrant workers are actually the back of bone of Indian economy. And it is very well known, more than anybody else, to the leadership of the world largest democracy.
These migrant labourers are returning to their native places on foot on the highways, railway tracks, on milk tankers, and what not because even weeks after impositions of lockdown, there were no signs of proper arrangements being made for transportation of the migrant workers.
I believe we all know that the pandemic was unprecedented but the imposition of lockdown was not. The lockdown was supposed to be a pre-calculated step a measure to contain the rapid progression of the COVID-19 pandemic. But rather the lockdown has hit hardest to the unskilled and semi-skilled migrant labourers. Before imposition of lockdown it was "Janata Curfew" a hint of coming prolonged lockdown.
The moment 21-day lockdown was announced with four hours notice on the midnight of 24 March with no specific mention of the daily wagers; the immediate outcome was the instant disappearing of the livelihoods of the daily wagers. This workforce that falls under the informal sector of the economy constitutes around 80% of India's total workforce. Over the next few weeks, the trapped workers found themselves running out of food and money with no help or very little help from the government.
These distressed migrants are the voiceless invisibles individuals, the faceless of the economy with nobody to raise their voice for them.
Its 50 days since the imposition of lockdown. The migrant labourers are on the highway. Bags perched on their heads, with children in their arms, walking down highways either bare footed or torn slippers in a desperate attempt to return to their native villages hundreds of miles away with the only hope to survive. Voicing one sentence, "I want go home", it's all over here. "No food" "No Work" "No Help or very little help from the Govt."
But for the rich NRIs also the migrants (of affluent class) stuck in pandemic-hit countries, special flights and trains have been arranged for their evacuation.
I know tough times demand tough measures. I also can understand that there was too little time for too much work to be done before the imposition of lockdown. It's not that the administration did nothing but had the process of evacuation started earlier, things would have been different. All these could have been averted had the decision making process been decentralized. But all it became is a wait and watch technique.
There were no constructive plans on migration of labourers and State govt. scrambling here and there to figure it out how to address the issue and help the informal working class population. Now as a result the migrants have lost trust and faith on the government. All these have turned out as an enormous humanitarian crisis.
It is these poor labourers that have made our lives easy individually and fuelled the country's economy as a whole for so many years. And today when they need our support they are left stranded, in distress.
Are they not human? Don't they deserve the slightest humanity? Don't they have the right to go to their home?
I agree that "Necessity knows no law" and I also understand no one person can handle it alone it had to be coordinated effort but was no coordination as such. Had there been a serious coordination from the very beginning, the scene would have been different. The process of migration would have been smoother and life of hundreds migrant workers could have been saved.
Come elections, these same poor migrants workers, the invisibles will be wooed with freebies and special policy announcements. Buses and trains will be arranged for them to be ferried from one place to another, paid and fed to attend rallies. But now, look it's just the opposite!
Now after more than 50 days when the picture is visibly clear, and that India's deep economic rift and the government's apathy toward the poor labourers who power the country's growth are now globally flashed on the highway and whole world is starring at the apathy of the poor migrating worker, the experts have become busy bee now trying to figure out how to arrange for transportation of the migrating workers. Trying to showcase what is being done for the migrant labour.
Its heart wrenching to see the economic backbone of the world's largest democracy trekking on the highways and railway tracks desperate to reach back to their native place.Once Again, The Worst Affected Is,
The Poor, Voiceless and Faceless Migrant Workers.