The plight of migrant workers pushed the pandemic health issues in the background, as India soared with anguish and pain towards the unorganized sector. Thousands of lower working class was compelled to flee the cities due to loss of jobs and no money to survive. The lockdown results in hazardous effects on the livelihood of India’s migrant workers. With the current scenario, how will our workers succumb to these losses?
Why did our workers start moving towards their hometowns?
Labor class of India live quite an exploited life. Over 90% of the working class is indulged in the disorganized sector. In an informal economy of India, workers are vulnerable to exploitation like unsafe environment, unjust working hours and extremely compromised lifestyle. However, the already deafening pain was aggravated due to the COVID-19 outbreak all over the world.
India announced a countrywide lockdown on March 24 under the guidance of Modi government. The worsening condition and daily rise in cases do not allow uplifting the lockdown to date. Lockdown caused the loss of jobs, loss of lives and loss of basic livelihood for thousands of migrant workers. The working-class lives on a small sum of money and a huge chunk earn daily wages. Amidst the pandemic, they could not survive with the city hustle and expensive prices. Hence, 80% or more of the working class decided to move to their homes and villages.
What obstacles did the migrant workers face while returning home?
Lockdown imposed halt of each sector and industrial working with immediate effect. Thus, all means of transport were dysfunctional dreading migrant workers worst nightmare. With no means to reach home and no facilities to stay back in the city, many started leaving the cities on bicycles, foot and haathgaadis.
The journey back home was an awful experience for each worker. Many were killed to hunger and exhaustion. Government aid and plans did not satisfy the needs of people in their most difficult period. More than 200 migrants were killed in road accidents amidst the pandemic. Moreover, how can we turn a blind eye to the 16 migrants who were crushed beneath the train near Aurangabad?
Coronavirus invasion in the country has proved to one of the darkest periods of Indian history.
How will the industries work without their workers?
India’s economy is dependent on the working class. One amongst four workers are migrant labour and India will be crippled without their service. Some industries understood the hard way. Without any migrant workers to resume work in unlock 1.0, businesses are struggling to earn any profits. The manufacturing sector of each industry consists of migrant workers and it is impossible to pedal work in full force without them.
Industries like bag manufacturing industries, battery industries, non-woven bag industry, food production industry and many more are reliable on workers. As work resumes in green zones, the economy is still depleting without the migrant contribution. Many businesses claim they are helpless in the situation. Each industry has a direct or indirect contribution of the labours and for India to rigorously work to redeem our economy, migrant workers are essential.
Will the workers return to the cities?
Inter-state and intra-state travel is permitted without any extra pass or certificate in the unlock 2.0. Hence, industries are expecting the return of migrant workers. Do the workers want to return? Dejected due to the pandemic and menacing government aid, workers are reluctant to come back to the city. Furthermore, villages do not posses enough options to earn a livelihood. Feeding a family, while working in a village is a difficult task to endure. After three months of lockdown, migrant workers have run of their saving and need to start earning to survive.
Hence, many migrant workers plan to return to the cities. The relative need for migrant workers and businesses to resume work infuriates the return of migrant worker. Many contractors have contacted their workers and arranged for safe travels. Whereas some have returned to the city again in search of work.
Indian economy cannot survive without the migrant workers and hence, to trigger the diminishing GDP we need workers to return to their work. A safe and secure environment for labour is expected amidst the pandemic. Providing respectable livelihoods to the workers should be the aim of contractors and government.