Being with Garam Rola Mazdoor Ekta Samiti, Wazirpur was quite an illustrious and industrious learning experience for me, in terms of learning, knowing, and valuing the part of the scores of the migrant families with whom we were involved. We were also engrossed in enhancing and enriching our understanding of the roles, responsibilities, lives, and livelihoods of these migrant labourer families.
As for the people, their dignity, humility, self-respect is embedded in the conceptualization of meeting and managing their ends. There is a long struggle to visualize their spaces in the hierarchical ecosystems of their squalors and shanties.
Arranging, organizing, and carrying the city upon their shoulders and singularly contesting the claims and contradictions of our society who would, for all reasons, be dismissive and disapprove of the aesthetics of their ethics, morals, and values. This lockdown gave us a peek on how these migrants were forced to fend for themselves.
Sajjad, aged 50 years, and Najni, aged 45 years, stay in the densely populated pockets of Wazirpur Industrial Area. Surrounded by small factories and workshops from all around, Wazirpur situated in the northwest District of Delhi is the hub of major manufacturing and production units.
Life has been challenging for Sajjad after he suffered a paralysis attack a few years ago. Crawling from one point to the other, unable to speak and act, his gestures are sufficient in apprising the others around his wants. He has no support and assistance from any government agencies and authorities, be it for the disability pension and all, forget the ration and momentary support in the backdrop of Covid19.
Najni has, in the past, visited quite a few hospitals, but after the initial phase of treatment, they gave up on Sajjad. Neither can they afford the cure for this ailment as that would require a huge amount of money. They are dependent on external support to manage their finances by looking at their mode of sustenance and livelihood.
Similarly, Asha Devi, whose husband has been partially disabled with some form of motor activities, has been facing the same issues. Asha Devi earlier used to work as a labourer in a factory unit, earning around ₹8,000 for six hours. But, after the lockdown, a lot has changed for Asha Devi. She has been applying for a disability pension for long but without any success. She has met the local councilor and MLA of her area many times, given guarantees and assurances all the time. But nothing concrete came out over the last few years since her husband Pawan was bedridden.
We can infer from the above instances that homestay, home safety, and quarantine are cosmetic terms for the privileged. As for many, the livelihood question is in itself battering, wherein you are consuming more than you can get. For us, a society where inequity, disparity, and deprivation is breed deeper, whether we accept it or not, with us being a mere spectator.