MIGRANT LIVES, Lockdown in the face of a pandemic is the only practical solution to prevent deaths by COVID-19. For the second-most populous country in the world with a ranking of 145 out of 195 countries with respect to health access and quality, handling a community spread of Coronavirus infection is nothing short of terror and apprehension about the huge number of affected cases and deaths. Thus complete and the nationwide lockdown was the only logical solution to an international burning problem. We’re still far from discovering vaccines of this disease and hence prevention is the only option. However, in an attempt to save lives, we have been forced to compromise on livelihood.
What are the Impacts on Livelihood?
The coronavirus lockdown has forced every kind of construction work and other places that hired labourers on a contractual basis to close down permanently as they don’t fall under essential services. Thus thousands of daily wage labours are thrown out of jobs. With no savings in hand and working in places far away from their origins, these workers do not have shelter without being able to pay the rent. Transportation including the railways, the buses and the flights has come to a standstill as well. Under such conditions, the labourers across the country are forced to travel miles on foot to reach their hometowns where they can look up to their extended families for shelter and support.
Condition of Migrant Lives
Different treatments are meted out to migrant workers all over the country, somewhere there’s help and empathy whereas somewhere there’s humiliation and disrespect. A few days ago, a video of migrant workers in Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh, being sprayed with disinfectants used to sanitize vehicles caused controversy and severe social media criticism. The disinfectant was harmful to human skin and is ineffective in killing viruses that had already entered the human body, according to WHO.
Also in other parts of the country, several migrant workers, who travelled hundreds of kilometres to reach home, were prevented from entering their villages due to rumours and fear being spread more than facts and safety measures. Several other incidents of humiliation and ignorant measures instead of empathy for these labourers have been evident across the country.
How are they Living?
Under the nationwide lockdown, all the immigrant labourers are stuck in the states they were working and the government is supposed to take care of their food and shelter. But is basic food and shelter enough? Is that all we need to survive? Why are we paid wages then? The Supreme Court of India on April 7, 2020, refused to interfere with government policies and stated that payment of these workers wasn’t necessary when they’re getting food. This had caused a Twitter and Facebook uproar on April 8 between 6-8 pm with the trending #MigrantLivesMatter. The concern and outrage of people showed their support and solidarity with the workers.
So what can we do? In the face of an international crisis when we can’t step out of our houses, all we can do is stand up against all injustice and demand for more transparency of funds raised to combat this situation. The labourers are the basis of economy and it’s our duty to support them. Let’s stand united and strong against the virus.