Helping Hand for the Stranded Migrant Workers and Homeless Citizens - Editorial

Background Context 

The centre directed the state government to make provisional arrangement of basic necessities (food, shelter and clothing) for migrant workers who facing worst imaginable living condition and currently in the middle of the unfortunate times due to the unforeseen and immediate lockdown (21-days) imposed by the government, as a preventive measure to control and minimize the spread and widespread effect of the coronavirus.

The ministry of home affairs directed everyone to stay where they are, and Joint Secretary clearly mentioned these actions are for people’s safety.

Helping Hand for the Stranded Migrant Workers and Homeless Citizens

Centre directed respective state governments to arrange the food and basic necessities to citizens, especially the migrant workers who cannot go to their native places due to nationwide lockdown. Governments are encouraging citizens to stay home or wherever they and find the closest shelter to stay safe.

The general consciousness in peoples mind, that we’re dealing just one virus and nothing special and eventually everything will be at peace once we are on top of it, - is the most ignorant and dangerous thing to do during global crises. Despite this, together we have to fight the COVID-19, considered to be the worst pandemic after misinterpreting ‘Spanish Flu’, the year 1918.

Despite Indian Govt. Several efforts and implementation of strategies to keep COVID-19 at bay, it managed to traverse corner of the nation and currently the only major headache that affected from rich to poor and hampered every industrial segment to its core. In response to these events the Govt. Initiated the first major nationwide lockdown since independence.

Unsalvageable Elemental or Fundamental collapse   

In this modern world of ever-changing economies and power killing spree, where everyday disruption is unfortunately considered to be the new normal, the outbreak of the COVID-19 has put everyone into unsalvageable fundamental shock, added the updates to the geo-political fault-lines, losses and new opportunities. In this global COVID-19 tragedy, there are no immediate winners, however the stories of crises & sufferings, hope & survival, empathy & charity, lessons learned, that are narrated and remembered in the after-effect.

Even though we try to embattle responses or deploy remarkable measures to the prodigious disaster that the COVID-19 pandemic has to untether (discharge) globally, regularly several failed attempts are made to deflect mindfulness as to the origin and outcome of the worldwide pandemic.

The History of Tragedy and Setbacks

  1. India witness a heavy loss of around 18-21 million (i.e. 1.8 to 2.1 crore) lives during the short time span between, 1918 to 1921. To put it into actuality, 1921 the only year in the history of Indian census that recorded the decline in rural population.
  2. Looking at the health infrastructure in India, it would be unwise not to announce that, India has the largest population that is not geared well enough to face the outbreak and crises like COVID-19.
  3. There is a saying “Lesson goes away with the scare”, the world experienced numerous diseases and outbreaks in past and it is imminent that such event may unleash the hell on earth ahead in future. Alone in 90’s we had SAR and MERS (both belong to Crona Virus Family).
  4. In 1994, Surat, India had an outbreak of “Plague” which rocked the nation, despite the series of such ill events, we are least prepared for the 21st century’s era.
  5. 1990, the decade of globalization of communicable diseases, however instead of building robust healthcare system and infrastructure to tackle the deadly crises, many countries decided to privatised the healthcare segment to curb their losses incurred from the outbreak.
  6. The Indian subcontinent (especially India) is dominated by the privatization of the healthcare sector and we have the least expenditure for healthcare (I.e. barely 1.2 per cent of our total GDP – in the world.
  7. India is unknown to the concept of the government healthcare systems or centralised universal healthcare infrastructure and this was steadily declined due to policy-driven standards.
  8. The current scenarios and movements from governments are hinting towards the privatizations of the district level hospitals.
  9. Nowadays Indian household expenses are majorly spent towards the health expenditures, and that really is the big reason for rising rural family debts.
  10. A disturbing report (2018) from the Public Health Foundation of India, unveiled that at-least 55 million people are downed into poverty in the year 2018 because they had no provision of healthcare and had to pay for their own medical expenses. At-least that 30 million others went below the poverty level due to medicinal expenses without any healthcare support.

Some Measures and Initiatives from the Kerala Government.  

  1. Firstly, prepare the large-scale emergency food distribution of surplus food grain stock (approximately 60 million tons). 
  2. Immediate implementation of policy through an effective task force to reach reaching out to migrant workers and other poor divested by the crises. 
  3. Closing of all schools, colleges, universities and community places and convert them into provisional shelters for labour class migrant workers, homeless people.
  4. Secondly, strengthen the farmer's community to grow a new cycle of crops and keep the steady flow of food grains and basic essentials.
  5. With the present situation of the lockdown and losses incurred by the farmers, disastrous food situation looms. Farmers won’t be able to sell their precious and essential produce amid lockdown.
  6. Moreover, the vaccine for COVID-19 may be months or years away, we never know, during this time period the entire stock of surplus food stocks will perish.
  7. To avoid this situation, the government needs to start buying produces directly from the farmers on a large scale. Due to the compulsive practice of social distancing, farmers are unable to employ farm labours, thus resulted in unharvested rabbi crops fields and those who already made the harvest are now unable to transport it anywhere. This seems like a deadlock situation for the farmers.
  8. Even if farmers decide to take a Kharif crop; they will access to support services such as transport, market, agents and marketing assistance.
  9. The government needs to establish a chain of nationalised private medical staff across the nation to ensure adequate and required medical assistance to everyone who so ever is in needs of it. 
  10. To think on the ground of Spanish Measures: Spain took good control and nationalised all of its healthcare centres, medical laboratories and hospitals, citing that a profit-driven infrastructure system is ineffective in resolving the current national crisis. 
  11. Sanitation Workers (सफाई कर्मचारी - Saifi Karmachari): Thousands of these workers need to be regularised locally in municipalities and on the permeant basis, and ₹5000/month to be added to their current salaries structure, full healthcare benefit, required occupational protective gears to safeguard protect self.
  12. Since ages this particular class of sanitation workers were always kept out of occupational basics and vulnerable to health issues, deprived of public services, outsourcing their work & jobs to private companies, who in return hire same sanitation labourers on a contract basis without any occupational or health benefit, in worst cases, some of these workers weren’t even paid their wages. 
  13. Declare or announce rush free food and rations for straight three months to the poor and less fortunate class of citizens. 
  14. Regularise the unsung Anganwadi ASHA and mid-day meal workers – they are already serving better at the frontline battle with COVID-19. To be more precise, the lives of the young Indian children's is in their hands. Hence, they need to regularised as full-time government employees, with appropriate wages, healthcare benefits, adequate training for further employment progression and needed protective occupational gears.
  15. Provide daily wages to labourers and farmers until the crises are over. Provide ₹6000/month wages to urban labourers.  

We as the nation needs to implement these measures as soon as possible. The government's recent announcement lucrative packages are apathetic and only once, we going to need long term solutions with careful and heavy investments towards stabilizing the disrupted socio-economic situation.

It's not only the virus we are worries India but also the distress package that comes along with the virus (i.e. the recession, economic loss, plunged rupee value, unemployment and financial distress to every Indian citizen).

If the virus curve is not flattened at earliest then and decides to persist then the government's attention might turn towards the farmers whom might get into great pressure to feed the entire nation, the coming Kharif season.


The world is experiencing and going through heavy crises, it is the duty of each individual, citizen of the respective country to help, contribute whichever way possible, without any expectation in return.

As of now, we are facing situations in metro cities like New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, etc, where thousands of migrant workers are rendered homeless with absolutely no means of transportation, shelter, fresh food-water and sanitation.

We as a human being is our social and moral responsibility to be generous and provide the helping hand to those in need. Times comes and goes, so is the accumulated wealth and borrowed health. We decided to modify the poem by Horatius and present it as such … 

Sooner or later, Death cometh to handpicks every individual.
And how can a man die better
Than facing fearful odds,
For the well-being of his fellow contrymen,
And protecting the borders of his nation.

Important Related Links

  1. Farmers may not be Infected but Certainly and Critically affected

Source: The Hindu

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