Guest post by ANINDYA SEKHAR PURAKAYASTHA and MURSED ALAM
Critical opinions described India as the ‘Republic of Hunger’or as the ‘Republic of Caste’ and now the post-Corona plight of countless migrant workers makes us want to describe it as the Republic of Indifference. Lakhs of migrant workers along with their family members are stuck at different corners of the country, unfed, mistreated and uncared. Recent images of migrant workers flocking to Bandra station in Maharashtra, with hopes of resumption of train services taking them home and the subsequent police action to disperse them was watched and commented by all of us. Most reactions were emotive and anguish ridden but that have little impact on the ground situation in which these migrants are forced to live during this lockdown. It is true that some NGOs and various philanthropic organizations and governmental aids have to a certain extent catered to their needs but their misery demands more than mere empathy or selective mercy. They need concrete action on the ground. It is astounding to see the Government of India announcing the lockdown on 25 March without having any concrete action plan for these countless migrant workers. This completely betrays the government`s indifference to their sufferings. As if we take them and their sufferings for granted. Earlier some migrants were packed off in over-crowded buses with no money and in Delhi migrant workers were stranded in a bus station in large numbers, rendering them more vulnerable to the infection threat. By all means the COVID 19 crisis has once again proved that they are the Rejects of India. They are mere numbers, and we club them under one official category of “Migrants”, they are not human beings, a mere category of the Reject, who are left out to fend for themselves. We, armchair intellectuals and the moneyed class securely ensconced in our comfort zone, guaranteed of our salaries and jobs, passed off social media comments. The self-appointed radical fringe among us called for the closure of all other activities like educational studies as migrants are suffering but all these predictable reactions boiled down to nothing when it comes to forcing the government to come down to the street and adopt concrete steps to mitigate the traumas of these suffering faces who are away from homes and family.