The Unseen and Uncared rung of the society !

If you are reading this article sitting in a well-constructed house then there is a huge probability that each and every brick would have been laid by a migrant worker. If you have ever eaten noodles or fried rice in a roadside eatery, again there is a large probability that your meal would have been cooked by a migrant worker. Similar to these, migrant workers are involved in our day-to-day activities, but the problem is that they are invisible to us and are often ignored. At times they are also not given the rights they deserve.

This crisis has brought this unseen and uncared citizens to light. It was only then we were able to realize how these workers were invisibly tangled with us in our everyday life.

Mostly it is agricultural distress and lack of job opportunities that push these men and women to go in search of jobs in other cities so that they can eke out a living for themselves and their families. It is usually the male who migrates so that his family can sleep with at least half of their stomach being filled. Even after toiling so hard in the scorching sun, the worker is not able to make his family climb up the economic ladder, which is a fact that we often do not realize. They are also not able to fight for what they deserve in their places of work. They are often victims of meagre wages, unclean residence, and nutritionless food. Even when being bereft of these basic facilities they make sure that they send back a good amount of their meagre wages to their families who live in some remote corner of the country. This pandemic has further ravaged their economic austerity which they have already been facing.

This pandemic has had a devastating effect on their lives. All of a sudden they were asked not to come for work, not to expect any kind of support from the employers. At a time when their employers should have given succor and strength, they did the opposite. Some employers even went to the extreme of switching off their mobile phones so that they would not be dragged into the responsibility of accommodating these workers and to also cater to their needs. It is disheartening to hear these incidences because it was these employers who were exploiting the workers to achieve their vested interests. But they have simply shrugged off their responsibilities when it came to bearing the brunt of catering to the workers’ needs. The employers and contractors even started bludgeoning the workers to stay back without promising them that they would be provided with the basic necessities of survival.

Denial of transport forced them to set off on foot to their houses with the hope of reaching their houses, being the only luggage they carry, but these poor citizens were unaware of the dangers lurking in this pursuit. Several workers were killed due to exhaustion, hunger, and thirst. All that they expected was, they can ride out this crisis if they join with their families but they were only run over by a train, thrashing all the hopes of a woman expecting her husband or a little girl expecting her father to return. It would have been of great help to these workers if they were provided with temporary shelters and food, in their trip back to their houses. But to the contrary, some even went to act of committing a morally egregious error of labeling these people as ‘carriers of corona’. And this was just another news for the so-called 'balcony classes' to read with their morning cup of tea

At times when we should have shown the attitude of a good samaritan raising a stentorian call to bring out the workers of their suffering, we didn’t even show a modicum of humanity and care for them. This has led to some workers making a silent vow in distress that they would not ever return back to their workplaces.

It is high time that we realized the untold woes of these poor workers who operate the levers of the Indian economy to a great extent; It is now in the hands of us to treat them with due respect and dignity when they return for their work and to voice for them just to ensure that we care for their livelihoods and the lives of their families which are at stake.

Article by Saravana Prabhu R

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