Tag Archives: Aarogya Setu

Part II – The Virus, the Muslim and the Migrant: Forced labour and data capitalism

THIS IS THE SECOND PART OF A THREE PART POST, THE FIRST PART OF WHICH CAN BE READ HERE.

Forced labour and data capitalism are the low end and high end of Coronacapitalism. Let us examine each of these.

Forced labour

The gut-wrenching picture of migrant workers who managed to reach Bareilly, being sprayed with disinfectant by people protected by hazmat suits themselves, provoked such widespread outrage in India and negative publicity in the foreign media, that the Health Ministry issued a hasty statement that this should not be done.

Spraying of chlorine on individuals can lead to irritation of eyes and skin and potentially gastrointestinal effects such as nausea and vomiting. Inhalation of sodium hypochlorite can lead to irritation of mucous membranes to the nose, throat, respiratory tract and may also cause bronchospasm, the advisory said.

Workers at Bareilly bus terminus being sprayed with chemicals

But this brutality and callousness towards workers and the poor emanates from the very top of this regime – the signal is sent from there, as to who matters and who doesn’t. The difference in treatment is stark and unapologetic.  For example, during the lock-down, on April 18th,  even as thousands of workers walked long distances home because no transport was arranged for them, precisely in order to prevent them from leaving the states in which they were stranded, the Uttar Pradesh government organized 250 buses to bring back students from the state studying in Kota, Rajasthan.  As of April 24th, special flights and hospital beds are being prepared by the government to bring back Indians stranded abroad. Continue reading Part II – The Virus, the Muslim and the Migrant: Forced labour and data capitalism