Tragedy on the tracks
State support, good communication strategy are vital to end the migrant labour crisis
- The Centre and several States have been engaged in flip-flops on facilitating the return of migrant workers to their homes.
- The Centre’s inability to clearly communicate to the public and States the purpose and protocol of the lockdown every step of the way has put people through completely avoidable hardship.
- The sight of an endless stream of migrant labourers, some of them carrying toddlers and the infirm, walking towards India’s poorer regions from its economic centres, will remain an indelible memory of this inept and insensitive approach that had not taken their particular circumstances into account.
- Though it did not spare any effort to make spectacles out of an unfolding pestilence, each government announcement about the lockdown threw even the educated public into a tailspin, and required numerous clarifications and amendments.
- To argue that this is a once-in-a-century event that caught even developed countries napping could at best be a tenuous defence.
- Hunger, humiliation and fear of the disease made thousands of these migrants so desperate that they ventured to walk thousands of kilometres to get home.
- All of this could have been managed better had the Centre worked with States to map out a strategy to support those who wanted to stay where they were, and organised the return of those who chose to do so in an orderly manner.
- A huge cost has already been paid in lives and suffering, but even now there can be measures to mitigate the situation.
- For that, it must have a more open and honest communication with State governments, and citizens, tough measures may be essential but caring ones are just as vital.