This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Sumangla Sharma. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Migrant Workers Are Returning To Cities, But Will They Get Their Due?

More from Sumangla Sharma

A few days ago, I went for grocery shopping at my regular local shop and to my surprise, I saw Kripal Bhai. He was there in his usual self, managing the customers, telling them the right price without even looking at the packets and arranging the stuff the way exactly it should be. He was also one of those millions of migrants who had left the city to go back to his hometown when the pandemic had hit. He went back due to fear of loss of job and not being able to afford the city life. Now he is back and I could see a sigh of relief in the eyes of the owners.

It is said that the worst thing in life is ending up alone. It is not. The worst thing in life is being ignored in spite of having people around. And such was the case with millions of migrant workers until March 2020.

In March, when one of the deadliest viruses was slowly seeping in different areas of India, what came into the spotlight was this ignored population. Suddenly it was there, in front of our eyes. We witnessed their plight when they were rendered penniless and stranded in the midst of an already unsolvable crisis. The thing to take note of is that why these migrants suddenly became so important when their miseries were being overlooked till now?

Who Are These Migrant Labourers And Why They Became Important Overnight?

Migrant labourers are basically the workforce of our country which has been present all along but invisible. They are overlooked, taken for granted, ignored and are kilometres away from the outermost periphery of the society. They exist when we need them and then they don’t. Then why suddenly, overnight, these entities became so relevant to us? Why their miseries were screamingly showcased to the entire world? Was it because it was suddenly realized that who would now save the already sinking economy of this country?

In a press conference conducted by the Government, it was mentioned that according to the last census report there are more than 4 crore migrant workers in India. And, in March 2020, what the entire world witnessed was the mass exodus of these 4 crore migrants post the 21-day lockdown announcement by the Government. These workers from farms, factories, households, construction sites, transportation, including others, came into the nationwide focus for wanting to go back to their homes.

Thousands of workers swarmed the city bus stations, train stations and in a helpless desperate situation, many resorted to the strength in their feet. They tried walking large distances facing all kinds of hardships including deaths on their way. Amidst, all this one prominent question that kept lurking around was when are they coming back? Who will now work for us?

Businesses Will Be In Trouble If They Won’t Return

The large scale reverse migration that India witnessed has put a lot of stress on businesses across various sectors. The economy has been hit hard. And now that the country is gradually opening up, a lot of workers are being brought back by various authorities to complete unfinished projects. According to recent data by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority, thousands of workers have been brought back by engineering firms to complete the metro projects.

A lot of business owners and project managers are sponsoring the return of the workforce and facilitating their quarantine needs. While a lot of these workers are coming back because of their own helplessness, the larger need is to get them back as the dependency on them is huge to resume businesses.

Sonu Sood Is Helping The Migrant Labourers
Sonu Sood Is Helping The Migrant Labourers

Bharat-India Divide

The lack of self-sufficiency in the villages and small towns reflects a long-standing and equally problematic concept of Bharat-India divide. The factors which are prompting the migrants to return to the city still remain the same which is a perfect reflection of this divide. While there are a lot of economic development packages rolled out by the government since so many years, still, the difference in income disparity and the lack of basic facilities and infrastructure is quite prominent.

While the resumption of businesses is crucial to the economic development of the country, the important thing will be to not ignore and overlook this huge population which is the ground force of driving this economy. The return of the migrants will also lead to a larger number of people falling ill, and there should be efficient measures to cope up with that. Providing this population with what it needs will be extremely crucial to unlocking India’s full potential.

Our collective aim should be to improve the lives of people like Kripal bhai, so that never again he or anyone else has to leave if a crisis befalls us!

You must be to comment.

More from Sumangla Sharma

Similar Posts

By shakeel ahmad


By Bigan

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below