Migrant workers: Out of sight, out of mind?

India Oct 08, 2020

Over the course of nearly 70 years since India’s independence from British rule, the government has adopted policies that have shaped the country into one of the fastest developing economies in the world. However, a new policy that has seen rapid implementation in recent months is of ignorance towards mounting concerns of its citizens.

On the first day of the Monsoon Session  of Parliament held a couple of weeks ago, the Ministry of Labor and Employment revealed that it had no data on the number of deaths of the 10 million displaced migrant workers and the 40 million who lost their jobs. Rendered homeless, hundreds succumbed to starvation on their way back home. Despite government relief funds and Shramik train services, the daily wage workers were offered no compensation, much less any acknowledgement of their suffering. Their future hangs in the balance as they return to work amidst rising Covid-19 cases as their savings deplete.

Over 380 frontline healthcare workers and 100 police personnel also lost their lives while serving the nation. Yet, the government claims to have no information of their deaths, citing that “health is a state subject and such data is not maintained centrally”. No data, no compensation.

Even less is known about the border dispute between Indian forces and the PLA in the Ladakh region. Defense minister Rajnath Singh initially denied any infiltration by the Chinese forces, while reports claimed that several hundred PLA soldiers crossed into the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) south of Pangong Tso lake, occupied a mountain called Helmet Top and built fortifications. No further news was reported from the hostile encounter that followed.

However the most shocking degree of ignorance and benightedness was witnessed when three farmer ordinance bills were passed  through a voice vote while opposition MPs were literally muted and hundreds of farmers protested in Haryana and Punjab despite backlash from local authorities, their dissent blatantly disregarded, leaving no doubt about the government’s selective concerns.

This article has been written by Shazia Farooqui for The Paradigm

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