Over the past few weeks the most pressing matter the government is trying to handle is the migrant crisis that has arisen out of this lockdown. It seems that the government advisory mechanism was caught off guarded over repercussions of this lockdown from the migrant perspective.
To the flocking of thousands of migrants at Delhi-Ghaziabad border, to the staging protest in Surat, Andhra border or at Bandra in Mumbai. People have been protesting to arrange the government for their return to their natives. While the government has been suggesting staying put wherever they are, respective state government have been arranging return of their citizens.
A quick survey of migrant’s shelters reveals the horror. The Delhi police survey report states to Indian Express (April 28), that fans are not working, no power backup, sanitization of toilets rarely done, most migrants want to leave as their families cannot survive, rude behavior of civil staff, pathetic quality of food, no hand wash and sanitizer, foul smells in toilet, water supply in toilets only between 7 to 11am, one soap for bathing and no detergent to was clothes, mosquito bites and so on. If these are the conditions of voluntary camps, don’t even imagine the conditions of quarantine camps where one have no option but to stay.
This lockdown has left the marginal section who barely are lifted out of poverty at the helm of going back to poverty. With no job, no food and no means to send remittances to their family, it is natural that one gets frustrated. The grim pictures of migrants cycling or walking back on foot along with small children thousands of kms paints the reality of this lockdown. Remember, the lives exist out of gated society as well. The truth is government is yet to figure out the assistance of this section, and assistance if received have benefited only few.
Once, these people go back and settle, the MSME’s will be the hardest hit, which are dependent on these workforces. Once stopped, it is no easy job to restart a business. Indian railways have set off across country to bring back home the stranded migrants and estimates that 500 such trains will be needed across 15 days to get the job done. The state of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh have to huddle together as coordination with states are the major pain pointed out by the Railways. Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal are also in the line.
Once this exercise is over, the next challenge of the government is to kick start the economy and feed its jobless citizens, in a country where malnutrition is entrenched, especially among children, there is a danger of hunger becoming widespread too. We all have anecdotal evidence that families are going hungry and some are starving too. While you can have food given to you by government, one just cannot give up his dignity and have no job but just food to eat even if given free by the government. A human need is much more than just-food.
Where we read disturbing news of people committing suicide because he wasn’t able to feed his family during lockdown.
On the other hand, jewellers are forced to sell vegetables so that they can survive from the lockdown crisis.