For the past several weeks the country has been witnessing ‘reverse migration’. Millions of migrants are travelling back to their villages after losing their income due to the impact of a nationwide lockdown, imposed to contain the spread of coronavirus.
Despite non-availability of transport millions started marching towards their homes, they hope to find comfort their. The government which promised them suns and moons after announcing the lockdown 47 days ago has failed to deliver. With no options left the migrants have been forced move out of cities.
A young man, who was living in Mumbai, lost his life due to tiredness while returning to his home in MP. One can only imagine the number of people losing their lives everyday in their quest to get back to their home state. In what can be considered as an example of extreme callousness, these poor daily wage-earners are being held as responsible for their own plight by many rich entitled people.
In another incident sixteen unemployed and exhausted migrant laborers were crushed by a freight train at Satna village near Aurangabad.
Expressing grief over the incident, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, “Extremely anguished by the loss of lives due to the rail accident in Aurangabad, Maharashtra. Have spoken to Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and he is closely monitoring the situation. All possible assistance required is being provided.” For your kind information Modi Ji, let me tell you that they committed suicide due to starvation.
In these tough circumstances it is the responsibility of the state government to provide shelter to all the homeless. The NDA government took the decision to impose lockdown in great haste, 7-8 days should have been given for people to return to their home states. The government should have allowed the migrant workers to return to their home states before declaring the lockdown.
If emergency trains would have been introduced with the implementation of the lockdown, the workers could neither have slept nor walked on the tracks, the train took so long to start, perhaps the government was waiting for some tragedy to happen. Four crore laborers were stranded in big cities of India, the state governments hardly thought anything about them.
It is really hard to know the actual number of people who lost their lives due to lockdown in India as the mainstream media is busy focusing on Imran Khan, how many Chinese are affected by the virus, and what Donald Trump is saying. Nobody cares about poor people.
No restrictions were put into place to assure the migrants. The mass movement of workers has been compared to the historic mass migration during the partition of undivided India. The main reason for this mass exodus after the lockdown announcement is the economic crises that ensued and which ultimately resulted in millions of job losses in unorganised sector.
Since the cost of living in cities is very steep, it is not possible for workers to live in cities without income. In such tough times, the only hope of migrants are their native village and small towns where cost of living is not that high.
The MGNREGA has been a breather for lakhs of people in India whose livelihoods got affected by the lockdown. However, with an increase in the number of first-time workers, experts have urged for relaxations in the number of days as well as the types of work included under the scheme. The MGNREGA employs 26.6 crore workers, of which 12.81 crore are active, according to data available.
During Covid-19, the concept of door-to-door services is becoming popular. So, it could be listed under MGNREGA where workers can make home deliveries. Another job opportunity could be of a caregiver. The elderly people who cannot go out and do things on their own needs a support.
Moreover, production of masks and sanitizers could be included in the list of the works.