Word For Peace
The images of the trampling home of migrant workers, some on trucks or bar-foot
walking, with women and children in their tow, have shaken consciousness in the country.
Tragic injuries and loss of
life incidents have evoked sympathy.
The photos of Operation Shramik Express by the government of Narendra Modi that has helped
more than four million migrants by bus and special train return home are nevertheless inspiring.
In India migrant labor is woven
into the economic fabric’s waft and weft.
It is a measure of national economic integration, as well as regional and rural-urban inequalities which
force immigrants from weaker countries to go metropolitan areas and other countries in search of livelihoods.
They contribute to the success and
empowerment of their home and destination states.
The sudden and unavoidable disease of the
coronavirus (Covid-19) threatens to disintegrate this tissue.
The fragility of the productive
potential of migrant workers is revealed.
The Blue Collar – the informal sector – of the forty million migrant
workers affected is the symbol of multidimensional deprivation, injustice and unsustainable demographic dividends.
Their mass migration from the host countries created an
unparalleled logistical nightmare and a humanistic and health security challenge.
This makes it more difficult for
the government to avoid the contagion.
The risk of labor
dislocation and atrophy is longer.
This also influenced economic activities declared
under Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan after the lockdown.
The opposition parties have both supported and used migrant
workers’ conundrum to condemn the Covid-19 policy of the government.
The stakeholders must recognize the seriousness of the
disaster and the enormity of the response it requires.
Modi, for his part, is driving India’s stupendous response to the crisis in a spirit of cooperative
and consultative Anti-Todayan federalism, with sympathy for the difficulties of the poor including the pravasi Shramiks (migrant workers).
Covid-19 has taken state and central governments into uncharted policy and intervention
territory, as a highly contagious and novel virus, without any vaccine or treatment.
Contrary to China, which militarily enforced the lock-down of a similar scale and scope, this is
a unique challenge for democracy such as India – a socially, federally, but economically weak country.
This is emblematic of the migration
crisis and calls for special measures.
States have the power to decide the extension and enforcement of
the lockdown and are responsible for providing relief for migrants in situ.
Therefore, the Center had to persuade countries to agree
to mass transport of workers at the risk of contagion.
Many of the chief ministers
were aggressive, some reluctant and unprepared.
A Center-State Protocol must be
developed for instant impact during disasters.
It is equally critical that the comprehensive data and statistics relating to migrant workers be collected and
updated beyond the ten-year census exercise – categorizing them into regional and global skills, sector and gender.
This absence has blinded us to the burden of migrants’ labor, and has hindered attempts
to support them with food, cash transfers, health, accommodation or relocations to the host countries.
The other side of the coin is
the asymmetry of details that poor migrants face.
Many could not obtain information from
different governments on relief, income and transport.
Some have been the victim of
misinformation, unscrupulous practices, and panic fuel.
It is essential to establish functional hotlines, build
expansion systems, and provide cost-effective smartphones and IT education.
Most immigrant workers have left towns because of fears of disease and stigma, expulsions of landlords,
congested environments, employment losses, income and food shortages and the psychological desire to be with their families.
However, many people stayed in the cities because of higher
wage reasons, better employment, higher economic and social mobility prospects.
In order to allow staff to make real choices,
India must optimize the sustainable development of all states.
The challenge facing migrant workers in their homes includes resistance to
infection and the lack of income and employment from their communities.
Many workers have already begun
moving back as economic activities rekindle.
Governments will guarantee their survival, local
employment and return to the host states.
Targeted and ecosystem support for migrant workers is a significant part
of the Rs 20 lakh crore mega-economic recovery and transformation package.
An abhiyan or a campaign for the protection and empowerment of migrant
workers must be led in partnership with state governments to combat the war.
It should: ramp up and offer priority to food,
cash, shelter and help for health directly and shortly.
Two, fast monitoring of local infrastructural and supply chain
implementation steps, technology diffusion, liquidity, jobs, income and entrepreneurship generation.
Three measures to support other vulnerable groups and
micro, small and medium-sized enterprises are synergistically implemented.
Four, ensure the well-being and
utilization of migrant workers’ potential.
In this time of creative destruction, the welfare of migrant workers and the explosion
of the Ganga are vital to our survival and the economic rebirth of India.
By some news agency