The “sons of soil” forced to leave their soil and wander under scorching heat in search of food, work and a temporary shelter better known as Migrants, the word migrants came under limelight when they started moving from their workplace to their own land in search of security, to get a clear pictures the lens of camera needs to focus on the present situation of the country where the disease of rich killed the poor not only physically but mentally, emotionally and in ways where even humanity cried. In clear ideology the process is known as migration for livelihood. We have many pillars on which our country runs but we always neglect the one who actually construct these pillars, the Migrants who work as labors construct buildings, working in industries for day to day production but in return what they receive was unknown until the whole world was attacked by an invisible virus named COVID-19 forcing the governments veil to fall as their failed role in benefits of these Migrant workers where some were forced to leave as a result of development, some left voluntarily for their own development in millions of number where their eyes with hopes relied on the government but in return government wore a blindfold to neglect the glance. The role of government came under question and gave birth to the major crisis, the census report enshrines the number of Indian Migrant as 41 million who migrated from rural to urban areas for work, as per observation the number might increase and explode with more migrants in following years which concerns the government and the polices made for the benefit of the migrant labor class with appropriate lacuna.
India Fighting Against Many Crisis:
Where other countries were fighting with a single crisis in India we fought many to top of the list was the major migrant crisis. Due to lack of sensitivity of some states led to migrant issue the country has witnessed visuals of helpless migrants travelling barefooted from roads to roads to reach their homes which includes women’s children and even old age workers. On one hand there are missions like ‘Vande Mataram’ to repatriate Indians from other countries on other hand there are no arrangements made for migrants in own land to reach their homes safe and sound there have been cases recorded where migrants died on road due to heat stroke, poor health, lack of food and water and even due to long hours of travelling by foot. Few lives were crushed and few were crumbled. Several States even tried to blew off their responsibility of safe and clear return of the migrants working in their State. Some might say in a fear of losing the count of their interstate labors or some might consider it as a fight of State and Central to stave off their responsibility. Whatever the reason be but the consequences of it is the loss of humanity. At this situation the question here arises is Does India has two class of citizens and they are not equal to each other? Because one pictures shows people in AC flights with food and water and other picture shows a man carrying his parents like in Indian Mythology the dearest son Shravan Kumar carried his old-age parents. Surprisingly our country is full of sacraments and vows of rituals but when it comes to humanity we all fail specially our government here failed by very bad scores. The basic role of government was to keep all its subjects safe with no biased behavior unexpectedly Migrant crisis in India is a result of lack of foresight of government and its loose planning.
Government and Its Vague Promises Towards Migrants:
Regarding enforcement lockdown and disinterest towards the migrant workers government forgot its promise towards the migrants what was enshrined under the laws and acts self-mentioned by Government in a key piece of legislation governing Inter-State Migrants in India is the Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979 act was enacted to prevent any malice behavior against the migrant LABOR’s here migrant workers are entitled to wages similar to other workmen, displacement allowances, journey allowance and payment of wages during the period of journey. The act even necessitates the registration of migrant workers when they go from their home state to a different state which was ignored by the officials just like other essential provisions. If this provision was followed, the States might have the count of actual no. of migrants working in their State and was able to serve them adequately. The fallout of lockdown in the Epidemic crisis to stop the wide spread of the virus highlights the urgent need to rationalize the legislative framework for labor in India. Migrants labor has been among the worst affected due to the lockdown where without employment a migrant has no permanent shelter over his head which forced him to move back to his residence for food and shelter their efforts to leave cities before and after lockdown with extraordinary ways of struggles in getting back home suggests that they have very low resilience to stay in cities without employment. The leakage through the cracks of India’s social security net, and government response has shown a significant gap between high-minded intentions reflected in existing laws and their implementation.
Lockdown A Threat to Migrant Labor:
The real question arises here is, will migrants’ lockdown experiences become the debris of history that reaches the sky? the answer can be likely linked to the death rate of the migrants and how closely their fates were linked to free train tickets and on the policies by the government. Lockdown was implemented in public benefit and to be a precautionary step against the fight with COVID-19 but the plan backfired due to mass movement by migrants from their work places to their homes. As an effective way to keep the migrants feel secured the States could have welcomed them like they welcomed cross country migrants on work visa returning home but the local migrants saw lockdown as a threat as they had no shade over their heads, insufficient money to feed their hunger, driven by distress. The rulers of the land have been impervious to the group of men and women had started walking adding to the civilization journeys of the dispossessed that have become synonymous with lockdown. Government initiated lockdown and asked citizens to stay at their homes, keep practicing social distancing but what about the people who had no permanent places to stay for them it has always been a lockdown towards opportunities and an urge to get their day to day needs fulfilled after they have worked for required hours.
The aftermath of the lockdown brings the attention towards State Government were unaware by Inter-State migrants who were desperate to go home, many lost their jobs, could not afford rents due to lack of wages and were under dilemma of falling ill and even dying away from their loved ones. If the implementation of the laws were full-fledged the State Government had complete details of Inter-State Migrant Workmen coming through contactors within their borders still leaving behind the migrants who come as freelance workers but as under the Act States would have been keener and more prepared for lockdown by implementation of the act almost no state seemed implementing the law in letter spirit. Since the act is barely into force it exists as another law that potentially provides rent-seeking opportunities to enterprising government inspectors while failing in performance of their basic moral duties.
No Ray of Hope for Migrants by Government:
The liberties of none are safe unless the liberties of all are protected.” – William O. Douglas
The laws are for organized sectors and in unorganized sectors the image is different as Labor Laws and policies are applicable for workers in organized sectors only as from total 92% of labors 8% fall under organized sector and the other count crosses the percentage as there is no paper work or protection of labors in unorganized sectors, lockdown should never have been a measuring tape or platform to perform any sort of discrimination against migrants. If state won’t help the migrants they will take charge in their own hands hence decided to walk by foot rather than encouraging workers to return home by securing wages and improving working conditions, the amendments introduced by the states. The wakeup calls of migrant crisis made several states amending existing labor laws, either by suspending them altogether or increasing working hours. It is axiomatic that these amendments must be in consonance with the basic fundamental rights guaranteed to all which also includes labors. If the industries want workers to return to the factories and offices, this should be done through incentives and not by force.
COVID-19 A Reflection of Migrant Labor Crisis:
There would have never been any attention by any person over the Migrant Labor Crisis in India until and unless COVID-19 attacked the borders and lockdown came up as a shield to stop its community spread and then the reality of the country became visible to all naked eyes it was clearly visible that in the list of crisis there is one more crisis in India known as migrant crisis which needs immediate solutions as there has been violation of Article 21 as there is no assurance of basic human dignity due to amendment and no backup plans by State and Government towards the labors as a result forcing them to live a life without dignity.
Lockdown never creates the crisis merely highlighted them. It is well settled that during tough time the poorest and the most marginalized people are generally hit the hardest. The tremendous study shows us about the double standard of Government in case of safety and security the elite class comes first and when it comes to boost the economy Government implement exploitative measures for workers.