Lesser than humans

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 5/13/2020 12:58:57 PM IST

 On Tuesday night, Prime Minister Narendra Modi did what comes to him best- make another impressive speech on what he intended to do in response to the pleas of various chief ministers during Monday’s video conferencing on whether or not to extend the lockdown. The speech was lengthy with maximum packaging but minimum meaning. In a twitter, former finance minister P.C.Chidambaram said, “it was a case of classic NAMO. No Action Message Only.” Perhaps the situation did not leave much space for the prime minister to manoeuvre. A worsening economic situation with demand for more funding to fight COVID-19 from all states. The current lockdown has placed India and the world in a very difficult situation - to choose either health and life or economy and wealth. This health versus wealth is not an easy choice and governments seek to strike a balance between the two. However, health and life cannot be ensured only through lockdown or other measures. Humans have to eat to live and that means someone has to work to produce food. Also humans need economy to keep their lives moving since without economy or ability to get what one wants, life would be extremely difficult. Either way, there is need for those who provide means to stay alive and live well. Those who provide the sources of health and wealth are the millions of labourers especially in India. According to estimates, an overwhelming 120 million people or more are estimated to migrate from rural areas to urban labour markets, industries and farms. Migrants form the largest part of India’s vast unorganized work sector. Migrant labour is crucial in agriculture, construction, domestic work, textile, brick kilns, transportation, mining activities etc. Economic growth in India today hinges on mobility of labour. The contribution of migrant workers to national income is enormous but there is little done in return for their security and well-being. One of the most telling human stories to result from the COVID-19 outbreak and the resulting nationwide lockdown is that of stranded migrant workers. However, theirs isn’t a new story; it’s taken a pandemic for urban India to take note of an issue that has remained an unseen aspect of the country’s economy for much of its contemporary history. The coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent lockdown has left tens of millions of migrant workers in their host States with little social safety net. The self-sufficiency and economic growth stories is about India’s migrant labour who travel thousands to another state to work and provide all the needs of the nation. Unfortunately, even in the present situation, they are not of concern for the government and the ruling elites. Thousands of extremely desperate labourers have not been paid by their employers due to lockdown and are forced to walk hundreds of kilometres to their home states. Many have died due to starvation. States such as UP and MP have gone to the extent of suspending Labour Laws during lockdown to favour capitalism over social justice and violate the very fundamentals of equality and justice of the constitution. Even the centre has not done anything noteworthy to alleviate the suffering of the migrant labourers. On the other hand, stranded students, tourists and pilgrims who occupy a higher class than workers, are always afforded a dramatically prompt, efficient and dignified treatment.

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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