Decision Maker Response
Manoj Kumar Jha’s response
Mar 31, 2020 — The mass exodus of migrant workers triggered by the sudden announcement of a lockdown with no time for anyone to prepare, has taken its toll on the poorest of the poor. While the government gave due planning and thought to bringing back people stranded in other countries, it has completely failed to include migrant workers in its emergency response.
India might recover from this pandemic but the crisis we have generated through this lockdown will haunt us for years to come. The sudden lockdown was a complete lack of imagination from the government. Any policy decision should look at how it will impact the last person on the ladder.
When in crisis, I strongly believe that the idea of a home is not a physical space. It is that of a psychological space. It is important for us as much as the migrant labourers. At present, that space of a home for migrant workers is under a lot of stress.
Not just are livelihoods being lost, lives are being lost. People are walking with the elderly and kids for hundreds of kilometres and some of them are dropping dead. Can anything be more shameful than what we have inflicted on our own citizens?
The government is criminalising the migrant workforce, while it is the government’s policy on Emergency Response for Covid-19 that should be criminalised. The spray of chemicals on migrant work force in Bareilly is just another inhuman act inflicted upon our own people. Were they told what they were subjected to? Was any facility provided for changing clothes etc.? Could the government think of the same response to any other section of people?
When I saw this petition, I tweeted about it because I believe that the government must come out with a solid strategy. What the Union Finance Minister has announced as emergency aid - Rs 500/- per Jan Dhan account, is a joke. It translates to Rs. 16.60/- per day.
I am making a strong representation to the Prime Minister on the condition of migrant workers and their suffering. We cannot exclude them from our Covid-19 response.
Manoj K Jha,
Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha & National Spokesperson, RJD
(Image Courtesy: Reuters/Danish Siddiqui)