Plight of migrant workers unfold the ugly truths of the nation

first_imgCoronavirus pandemic has exposed us to the deep flaws of the nation on issues of migrant workers, health professionals, and unemployment, etc. The visuals of migrant workers are obscene and heartbreaking that no stimulus package worth Rs.20 lakh crore can help either. At the time, it is difficult for me and you to even comprehend the intensity of it sitting in our comfortable homes. Although the government claims to have won the war against the pandemic, it has failed at large for migrants who are still hitting the road on foot. All those children who were abandoned on roads and have lost their lives walking hundreds of kilometres. It is a failure on the part of state & central government who have deceived them and die alone in cities. Unprecedented Lockdown and then perpetual extensions have stalled all the economic activities for a while. Almost all the industries, such as construction, transportation, etc. have been closed, which have left these labourers perplexed and confused. Fear of disease, depletion of money, and loss of jobs has led to the massive exodus to their native places. The brutal irony is that despite several proclaims of packages, trains, food by the government since the beginning of Lockdown; these migrant workers have died almost every day. This death reminds of the fact that the lives of these labourers do not have any value and dignity for the privileged class. According to the census of 2011, there were about 139 million interstate migrants with a major contribution from the state of UP, Bihar, Jharkhand, Rajasthan & Madhya Pradesh. While most of these workers live in states like Delhi and Maharastra, which are popular hubs for commercial activities. A recent trend has been noticed where these workers have also shifted to some other destinations in small fractions. Most of these migrant workers are occupied in informal, low paying, and hazardous jobs such as construction, hotels, textile, manufacturing, domestic work, etc. The major concern among these workers is non-payment of wages, physical abuse, and deaths. The pandemic has served a harsh reality that even when they contribute to the dynamic part of the nation, they are are still viewed as a problem and excluded from society. Moreover, political class ignores them as they hardly count for vote bank, especially in the case of interstate migrants. The migrant workers are lured and enticed with the hope of fulfilling their dreams but end up being a vulnerable workforce that can be subjugated and disciplined easily. I believe that the government did not have any reliable or correct statistics of these migrants; otherwise, their issue would have been factored before the Lockdown announcement was made with just 4 hours of notice. When the tragedy of migrant workers became visible, few of us showed some empathy, and ground reality was highlighted. Even after this, they were treated with contempt, and no dignity was shown by central or state government. Instead, it led to horrific stories of UP’s Auraiya and Aurangabad in Maharastra. They were lathi-charged, and transport denied leaving them to become atamnirbhar- walking home alone. But this is not only the brutality they have faced. A mission was launched to bring rich, but the poor still have to walk. The dead bodies of these migrant workers were piled up in trucks over blocks of ice, which shambles my mind over this humanitarian crisis. News media, which was believed to stand along during this adversity, even squeezed their voices and covered more of Hindu-Muslim instead of COVID and migrant workers. Digital media and journalists like Barkha Dutt broke the stories and showed us the ground reality in different areas of the city. Before you loathe me with the fact that the government has done all in its capacity by running sharamik trains, announcing stimulus package, and addressing the issue, I say it was not enough. Before making the announcement, the wages of these workers should have been paid in advance for the subsequent months, proper structure for rationing and medical aid should have been ensured. But nothing of this sort was done. The highlighted package of 20 lakh crore discussed in 5 tranches does not mention any immediate relief to these poor migrants. Running of special trains did not serve as relief for thousands of labourers as most of them did not manage to get a ticket, while others simply could not afford it. Shouldn’t the government move out of political agenda and seek deployment of the armed forces to take these workers home and ensure discipline and provide them all the necessary resources. Along with showering petals and bringing stranded from other countries, a mission for these workers would have been launched to ensure that one was no left hapless and impatient. There is still a lot of unrest among these workers, which needs authoritative solutions out of making this agenda for the political battlefield. It has already done a lot of incalculable harm to these workers in the last 50 days, and their sufferings have now become heart-rendering. We have seen some ugly truth during this pandemic, hope I wake up not remembering any of this.last_img read more