Labour Migration, Shortage and Corona
With the Corona Pandemic came other crisis, the crisis of labour and migrant workers in India. The saga of their horrendous struggle to reach home alive has been nerve-wracking and spine- chilling. Some have made it home now, possibly walking or rickety bicycles or paid train tickets or exorbitant price for standing space in a truck. But the question is why did they take up such a drastic step? Their employers didn’t pay them wage despite Home Ministry making it legally binding. Some companies have paid, but the contractors have swindled the funds. Now as the industries open, they are going to face an acute labour crisis.
The fear and uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic along with the humiliation of the sub-human treatment is not going to make workers want to take those trains again for a few months. They’re going to make small and small-minded capitalists beg for their sweat and blood. It is bound to raise the cost of labour. The labour exporting states will have a massive crisis in hand too. Already facing unemployment, they will have more mouths to feed. Many countries, not only rich western nations, but countries like Brazil are shelling out money for their workers.1.7 lakh crore package is peanuts thrown when we see Brazil giving $120 to informal sector, India is giving roughly Rs.500( $6). Politics is not immune. These migrant workers are engines of economic growth. They shape the rhetoric. They have taken good stories of Gujarat Model to the rural Indian corners and made the government win. The real fault lies not in Government or the poverty of the workers for If one has to die because of lack of food, it’s not deprivation but lack of human compassion.