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The Walk of Hope Albeit Distress

Hasty decision-making attitude brought several sleepless nights and distress to a population of roughly 1.3 billion people.

Migrant labour walking back to their native homes. (Source: Thomas Reuters Foundation)

The pandemic came as a shock to many countries and governments. It showed how humanity can never be well-equipped for nature's versatility. Countries were falling apart, and structures were in distress. In India, things were worse. We have a government that is known for taking harsh decisions and for its prompt responses. But this hasty decision-making attitude brought sleepless nights and distress to a population of roughly 1.3 billion people. The largest democracy in recent times is being run by few in power and many yes men. Ministers holding important seats just facilitate and take orders rather than discuss and point out a vote of dissent. More than 100 million migrant labor workforces were left on streets without food, shelter, and support during the sudden and unprecedented lockdown.

Recently Ram Madhav, General Secretary Bhartiya Janata Party was interviewed by Stephen Sacker on BBC Hardtalks. When Stephen asked him about the state of migrants during the lockdown, he said, “We have to accept that the numbers are huge but only a few went to their native villages which is sad, but the numbers were low.” The baselessness of the data which Mr. Madhav is quoting is sad. According to the official figures by the Chief Labor Commission, 26 lakh migrant workers were thrown on roads and were left on luck and their immunity to survive. The casualties and plight of these migrants was put on air in full swing by the reporters scattered across the highways asking questions to the people who are already in trauma. These issues were overshadowed by the “Strong Decision” narrative of the leader who is barely questioned and mostly worshiped by the mainstream media.

After a day of the strategic decision to impose a nationwide lockdown, 14 migrant workers died on roads near Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. Several migrant workers were waiting on borders of different states and cities for help from the government so that they can travel back to their actual homes. Yogi Adityanath, Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh is another well-known strategist and a poised politician. Uttar Pradesh's government under his supreme and efficient leadership won the “Guinness Book Of World Record” on 28th February 2019 for rolling out a fleet of 510 buses during the Kumbh Mela. This achievement was celebrated and is a matter of pride but when it came to arranging buses for migrant workers, the priorities changed. His Ministers pointed out the problem of insufficient planning and work on progress when asked about the accommodation of migrants waiting near borders of different states.

Somehow these laborers managed to reach their native homes, but caused them nightmarish pain and trauma. Unemployment and starvation were waiting for them. The issue of feeding their families and maintaining livelihood was still a question for most of them. Schemes announced for their relief were criticized on the implementation and grass-root reach, which has been an issue for India since ages. In recent times, the term “Act of God” is being used by our Finance Minister to shadow the failure and cover the incompetent management of the economy by the government. Was the death of 16 migrant workers who were sleeping on the track and a train which ran over them near Maharashtra an Act of God? Was the plight and suffering of thousands of families who had to take the walk back home an “Act of God” too? The answer is, it was the “Act of Demigod” whom we worship and believe. It was the act of the present government that did not think about the life of these people who are also human and deserve to be protected and taken care off in the concept of the welfare state and democracy.

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