Eid Mubarak: it’s really difficult to write this word in 2020. We are passing through an unprecedented situation in our country and elsewhere in the world due to COVID-19. Eid is an important festival for Muslims across the globe. But, in such a crisis, how can one celebrate any festival, when most of the people in the world are in pain?
Particularly, people from low-income groups or those who are engaged in the unorganized sectors are losing their jobs. Now even employers in the organized sectors are asking staff to resign or introducing pay cuts. In India, there was 8% unemployment before COVID-19; currently, this has reached around 24% in such a short span of time.
One cannot even imagine the suffering of the vulnerable communities or groups like sex-workers, domestic workers, street vendors, peasants, fisher-folk, and many more. The way our ‘city makers’ are walking away from cities with unmeasurable pain in their heart and mind.
This is sheer evidence of negligence from the side of the larger society, the government, business houses and affluent people, who always benefited from the blood and sweat of these people. The migrants left their home to find ways to change their lives for the better; but hardy anything changed in their lives, as their masters accumulated all the benefits of their hardwork and labour.
Many families are not able to have proper food these days; people are getting less food, or in many cases, families are mostly dependent on community initiatives. In such a condition, one can think, how difficult it must be to manage other expenses like medicines or milk for children. We are seeing how our migrants are walking with infant kids, and some of them going through harsh conditions despite heavy pregnancy or many of them delivering babies on the way.
For the last couple of days, I tried to interact with some people through phone or through other sources to understand the situations. One such conversation was with a woman named Shuman.
Shuman has been working as a domestic help for last ten years. She lives with her parents and is the sole earner for the family. She said, once the government announced lockdown on March 22, most of her employers didn’t pay even March’s salary, forget about the rest of the months. She was anxious about how she will manage her expenses, and she hadn’t paid her house rent for the last three months.
Another person I talked to was Kalam who had been working as a rickshaw puller in our colony. He knows everyone in our street, and he had a kind of regular work of carrying school kids in the nearby areas and taking passengers rest of the time.
A few days back, I found him selling vegetables on the pushing cart. He said, it was difficult to survive without work. After waiting for one month, Kalam decided to start selling vegetables, so that he could at least earn some money for the survival of his family. Kalam changed his work much before our Prime Minister announced Atmanirbharta.
The stories of Shuman and Kalam do not end with them; these are the stories of lakhs of people in our county who are mostly engaged in informal work where employers paid them every month or they earned based on their daily work. Around 90% of the work force doesn’t have secure income. There are no regulation of wages or other social securities for most of the informal workers or self-employed people.
In such a difficult time, many countries have taken steps for helping their citizens, through various means and methods. One of most necessary measure is to transfer the cash directly to most of the citizens, who are in need, and take appropriate measures to protect their jobs. But, unfortunately none of these steps are being taken in our country.
Eid Mubarak. We should not forget compassion, love, sharing and care for all without any distinction of religion, race, gender or caste. Let us build our community based on care and solidarity, no matter where are you from, what Faith you are following or even if you do not believe in anything.