January 17, 2021

These migrant workers did not suddenly fall from the sky

These migrant workers did not suddenly fall from the sky. They have existed on the peripheries of the cities, in the ghettos and slums. Invisible and unnoticed by the middle class, deliberately. The reason that they are forced to walk back to their villages is that they are perennially underpaid, just enough to stay alive and work. They have always been the disposable source of super-cheap labor. The wages are so low that they can’t save for rainy days. Hence they don’t have savings that could help them survive through the lockdown of 21 days. Most of them don’t get paid leaves, medical leaves and other such facilities that are mandated under whatever is left of the highly diluted and dismantled labor laws. I have personally been to such localities for the survey. They get paid in the range of 9 to 11-12 thousand rupees per month for 8-10 hours of work per day. They live in awful conditions. Don’t just stop at appeal for help, donation, and food for them. Learn about them, their work condition. Organize, advocate and fight for the implementation of decent minimum wages, other humane facilities for workers at the workplace. Because they work hard, they earn it, it’s their right. Otherwise, all this compassion and show of humanity would be nothing more than means to reach your sentimentalist orgasm. So that you could feel good about yourselves.

Anand Vihar Bus Terminal, Delhi