There can be no two opinions - migrant workers are suffering. But who is to blame?
The Answer is obvious!
- Most of the migrants are from poorer states of India - UP, Bihar and Orissa. There are others too but I think these 3 states account for the bulk of the workers that end up in other states.
- They usually work in “rich” states - typically TN, KA, MH, KL, DL, PB etc.
- Did you notice, barring KA, NONE of the states are ruled by BJP?
- I am not trying to be clever here, but let us think logically and with common sense and apathy.
- These states benefited from cheap supply of labour that had no rights, earned very low wages, even by Indian standards and could be hired and fired at will, for the most part. They were working mostly in MSME or unorganised sectors.
- They were living in slums or other equally pathetic dwellings and had absolutely no savings. So they could not even survive a few days of no income.
- While many of the Congress IT cell media durbaris shed copious tears for these workers, tweeting, talking and writing non-stop, they basically failed to point out this simple fact - It is the job of the beneficiary states to keep these workers clothed, fed and sheltered during the lockdown. And ensure they are paid for work they already did.
- It is also obvious that the whole idea of lockdown is to keep people where they are! It is not send them rushing in crowded trains all over the country, spreading disease! Particularly when cities (thanks to international travel) are the fountainhead of the virus and villages were by and large unaffected.
- So it does not really matter that the lockdown was not with sufficient notice. In fact a notice of even one week would have created similar or worse chaos. People will leave on last day (because they were earning until then) or even if they leave in smaller numbers each day, it is more than enough to overwhelm already over crowded Indian trains and buses.
- Labour has always been a state subject. That is also why reform has been difficult.
- They were guests of these states. Basic humanity requires that guests are taken care of.
- Yet that did NOT happen. These workers were chased out, often using crude rumours or dumped unceremoniously in state borders.
- Some CMs like Arvind Kejriwal (DL) and Udhav Thackeray (MH) did “appeal” to the workers and promised to take care. But did they do? If yes, why are workers walking hundreds of km away from them? And vowing never to return?
- Have you come across ANY mainstream media report that questioned this? Obviously not! These corrupt charlatans are the same lot that enjoyed the UPA years of loot and now claim to be “speaking truth to power”
- But if you expect the corrupt media ecosystem to question this, your wait may be quite a long one!
- Far from questioning their CMs these media coolies were busy singing praise - issuing certificates of “Star CM”, “Best CM” etc. One corrupt yellow even wrote that “they made handling Corona crisis look easy!".
- Now when these workers return to their home states, they will take months to get back to their original jobs.
Request to Nitish Kumar, Yogiji & Naveen Babu
Make sure these workers NEVER have to go back!
Assuming extra cost of living eats up 30-40% of their salary, even at 60% of wages they used to earn they will be happy to stay without any complaint!
At somewhat lower levels, say, 50%, they may complain a bit but still stay put!
There can be phased approach to solving their issues - obviously a miracle cannot be worked in weeks.
Phase 1: Give them some cash to survive a few weeks. Say, Rs.5,000 or even Rs.10,000. We are talking about say, 5 crore workers, each getting Rs.10,000 should be 50,000 crores, not beyond reach of three states put together! Borrow if needed.
Phase 2: Keep them busy with MNREGA work for a few weeks thereafter. But get babus to work on Phase 3.
Phase 3: Attract, invite and help Indian businesses, factories to move from these rich states to your state. If given sufficient attention and help they sure will. If not for any other reasons, because they may have no choice. This will benefit overcrowded richer cities like Mumbai, Bangalore or Tiruppur. It will also change the fate of UP/Bihar/Orissa. Law and order as well as power situation is a lot better these days anyway. There can also be other ways to find jobs. Bringing in fresh investments, state sector jobs, MNREGA and so on. Try anything that works.
Phase 4: Attract Chinese or other foreign investors. This takes much longer.
That’s all folks! Now we hope you understand how the media works in India!. And why we are “like this only” after 70+ years of freedom. We just exchanged one set of looters for another. And they still control the narratives.
Modi may be nominally in power. But the real establishment can do as it pleases, and get any propaganda published not just in Indian media but also in NYT, WaPO, Guardian & other Western media. Without ANY regard for truth, integrity, ethics or fairplay. If you think that is preposterous, just read Shivam Vij’s recommendation for the opposition in “The Print” (https://theprint.in/opinion/why-modi-government-gets-away-with-lies/422211/).
To be frank, too many of our media frauds actually follow Mr. Vij’s recommendation in letter and spirit!