IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 25th Nov 2020
“It is never too late to be what you might have been.” – George Eliot
EDITORIAL HUNT #260 :“Migrant Workers in India | Quarantine Without Home | UPSC”
Migrant Workers in India | Quarantine Without Home | UPSC
The migrant worker as a ghost among citizens
A new publication contends that their lockdown misery was no anomaly but an effect of exclusion from full citizenship
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 1 : Migration
The COVID-19 crisis in India has made the migrant workers visible in public discourse. But the dominant narratives have made them visible as subjects of compassion and not as active makers of our society.Discuss.(GS-1)
- Lockdown and the novel situation
- Quarantine Without Home
- Bridging the Social Gap
- Way Forward
- TRAPPED IN NOVEL SITUATION : On March 24, 2020 with barely four hours notice, lakhs of migrant workers across the country found themselves trapped in a novel situation: their livelihood in the city was gone, but they could not return to their native villages.
- NEVER ENDING ROADS : When their granaries looked small migrants took an arduous walk to their homes hundreds of kilometres away, risking starvation and death.
- A FATAL JOURNEY : Many did die in transit.India is not the only country to have witnessed lockdown-related governance failures.
- HUMANITARIAN TRAGEDY : But it stands alone for the sheer magnitude of the humanitarian tragedy unleashed by a poorly conceived lockdown.
QUARANTINE WITHOUT ‘HOME’
- PASTORAL COMMUNITIES : Nomads have mostly practised the tradition of shifting settlements and do not have a permanent home.
HABITUAL OFFENDER’S ACT 1952
- NOMADIC TRIBES AND MIGRATION : Nomadic tribes are the quintessential migrant community.
- GOVERNANCE STRUCTURE : State’s governance structure for nomadic tribes is determined by the Habitual Offenders Act, 1952.
- HABITUAL OFFENDERS ACT : It upholds the colonial legacy of treating them either as threat or nuisance, while erasing their rights as citizens.
- DEMOGRAPHIC STUDY : This state of ‘non-being’ that marks the political existence of nomadic tribes extends to India’s 5.6 crore migrant workers (2011 Census).
EPIDEMIC DISEASES ACT 1897
- ESSENCE : The Bubonic Plague of 1896 and the draconian measures implemented under the then newly minted Epidemic Diseases, Act, 1897.
- LEGAL SANCTIONS : Section 4 of this Act grants “Protection to persons acting under Act.No suit or other legal proceeding shall lie against any person for anything done or in good faith intended to be done under this Act.”
- BRUTALITY AND ASSAULTS : More than 120 years later, policemen protected by this legislation would brutally assault desperate migrants for trying to walk home.
BRIDGING THE SOCIAL GAP
- HEART-DRENCHING VIDEO : A Heat drenching video which shook the nation went viral during the lockdown captured the anomalous position of the migrant worker in the metropolis.
SOURCES : THE FEDERAL
- DEHUMANISING CULTURE : It depicts a street on which families of migrant workers, with their belongings tied up in cloth bundles, are seen trudging past.
- BRIDGING THE GAPS : The challenge, is to bridge the social distance between migrant workers and the rest of urban society, including the ruling elites.
- WHO ARE THESE MIGRANTS : A large portion of lowly paid labouring population of our country have historically come from Adivasi, Dalit and socially oppressed castes as well as religious minorities.
- NEW LABOUR CODE : That the new labour codes make it nearly impossible to unionise is a case in point.
- NEVER ENDING TALE : The active production of migrant labour and their invisibilised exploitation are two parallel processes that feed into each other.
- It contends that the avoidable misery they endured during the lockdown was not an anomaly but an effect of their implicit exclusion from full citizenship.
- GIVE AMPLE NOTICE TO ANY ECONOMIC LOCKDOWN : If India would have given even a 5-7 day notice to a lockdown just like other countries such as Singapore, UK and NZ.
- ANNOUNCE WAGE SUPPORT FOR THE VULNERABLE : Like other countries, if India announces a minimum guarantee of even Rs 5000-Rs 6000 per month in Jan Dhan accounts, It would help in more better ways.
- ARRANGE TRANSPORT FOR THE STRANDED MIGRANTS : Indian Railways, is world’s fourth largest railway network. spread over 95,000 kilometres.It could have played a larger role midst the lockdowns.
SOURCES: THE HINDU EDITORIAL HUNT | Migrant Workers in India | Quarantine Without Home | UPSC