THE FATE OF MIGRANT WORKERS DURING THE PANDEMIC.
The COVID -19 Pandemic that set its foot in India in early march has devastated the livelihood of millions of people. The economy of the country is hitting the ground and the situation is just getting worse by the day. It is having a catastrophic effect on working hours and earnings, globally. Thousands of companies are struggling to pay its workers and are cutting down on wages and employees. If the educated herd is facing these adverse situations, it’s time we think of the less fortunate!
i Source: https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/torn-between-penury-and-pandemic-trouble-mounts-for-migrant-workers-from-bihar/story-mUloUrWjIra6NzgXTvoCwM.html
Thirty three percent of India’s population comprises of the migrant workers. (Source: https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/coronavirus-india-lockdown-migran-workers-mass-exodus-6348834/). The migrant laborers are the backbone of construction industry, domestic help, small scale vendors, garment factories and other small-scale industries. They are more significant than we contemplate they are. It’s a large mass of population that we can’t turn a blind eye to and their welfare should be given utmost consideration.
Bengaluru is home to thousands of migrant people from across India. It has provided opportunities and hope for a better livelihood. During this pandemic, these migrant workers are struggling for bread and water. It is very saddening to know that a sector of society we live in are having problems getting the basic needs needed for sustenance.
The migrant workers chiefly depend on their everyday income. Even a day without being employed might cause hitches, visualize months of unemployment and poverty! The ration provided by the government is not adequate. These kits are a solution for a week or two; far along they are left starved and without a roof.
ii Source: https://indianexpress.com/article/governance/coronavirus-chinmay-tumbe-before-announcing-lockdown-assuring-migrant-workers-would-have-helped-6337697/
While the unemployment has been common to both rich and poor, the well-off people at least got to spend time with their loved ones. The ill-fated workers had to be away from their families and were stranded in migrant camps for months. Amidst the fear of the deadly virus, they didn’t have their families around them for moral support. They got to the point where all they wanted was to go home. There were several shattering incidents of workers walking miles together to reach home and get back to their families.
The restless workers with months of unemployment heading back to their home towns is disappointing. Some of the workers are moving out of town due to the fear of the virus as they cannot afford healthcare facilities. They are extremely terrified of the disease due to lack of knowledge and don’t know the precautionary measures against the disease.
The near future doesn’t seem assuring either with surplus workers and less opportunities. Given the demand and supply paradigm, there is a very good chance the workers will be exploited. This is why thousands of workers have resorted to moving back to their villages, away from urban lunacy.
It is ironic how the rich brought the disease to the country and the poor are the most affected! While the well off’s only problem is boredom with all the entertainment sectors like malls and cinemas closed, the poor are walled by darkness and are wrecked. Bearing in mind the suffering of these workers, let’s realize how our problems are so little.
WHAT CAN WE AS A SOCIETY DO?
It’s encouraging how much we as a society can contribute for this crisis.
1. Let’s be kind and benevolent to our domestic help. Let’s help our maids by covering their rent or lending them some money. Do not hang them out to dry because this is when they need you the most
2. Support small businesses. Try purchasing from your local or street vendors instead of visiting supermarkets.
3. Start volunteering for campaigns and NGO’s supporting the government. Several COVID warriors working on the frontline have tested positive for the disease henceforth the government is looking for more and more volunteers. Visit https://www.bcp.gov.in/, and support the Bengaluru police.
4. Donate whatever little you can, there are plenty of organizations raising funds.
In the early stages of the pandemic the government ensured to restrict the movement of migrant workers to avoid spreading the disease to the rural areas. After the lockdown was lifted, the government assured starting of constructional activities and guaranteed jobs and wages. Despite the continual appeal from the government for migrants to stay in Bengaluru, a large percentage of the migrants confirmed leaving Bengaluru permanently.
Many of the laborers who aren’t registered under the laborer’s association aren’t provided rations. They primarily depend on private relief organizations. These inconsiderate arrangements of the government have made the laborers bizarre and put them in dismay.
However, Companies ensuring CSR has contributed greatly to the relief funds which were in turn used to help the migrants as well. The companies have shouldered responsibilities as citizens of India and helped the PM relief fund. Many companies have donated one day salaries of their employees.
Below are a few noteworthy contributions.
With the support of these philanthropist companies and service minded volunteers, the government has tried their level best to help the migrant workers.
Pothole Raja is a social venture started by Dr. Prathap Bhimesana Rao which aims at making Indian roads pothole free. It’s a very inspiring initiative making the commute safer and accident free. Pothole Raja has joined their hands with Covid relief and have launched “Project Vishwas” -An aid to starving families.
Pothole Raja has unceasingly been a part of helping these migrant workers by proving ration kits and other essential supplies. Please visit https://www.potholeraja.com/covid-19-relief and do whatever little you can.
RV Institute of Technology and Management