Lockdown Of Inequality: 'Inconvenience' For Rich, 'Survival Of Fittest' For Poor

The tragic part of this reverse migration is that labourers are losing lives. Instead of the coronavirus infection, migrants are dying from exhaustion, hunger or accidents at a distance just short of reaching their destination.

India   |   1 Jun 2020 3:28 PM GMT / Updated : 2020-06-01T21:12:15+05:30
Writer : Palak Agrawal | Editor : Prateek Gautam | Creatives : Abhishek M
Lockdown Of Inequality: Inconvenience For Rich, Survival Of Fittest For Poor

Image Credits: One India

In an astonishing incident, a Bhopal-based businessman hired a 180-seater A320 plane of a private carrier to ferry four family members to New Delhi.

According to reports, the man, a liquor baron, is said to have booked the entire flight for his family to avoid the crowd at the airport and in-flight amid the coronavirus scare.

The plane landed in Delhi on Monday, May 25, carrying his daughter, her two children and house help who were reportedly stuck in Bhopal since the last two months due to the nationwide lockdown imposed to curb coronavirus.

In yet another instance, a Bollywood actor recently flew from Mumbai to New Delhi to be with his family. After the Centre lifted the restrictions on domestic flights, the actor bought two tickets and reportedly said that although it seems wasteful yet he bought an extra ticket to minimise contact.

Hindustan Times reported him reasoning such a move saying 'since his life was important', he had to do it.

On the other hand, social media is abuzz with heart-wrenching visuals and videos of the country's migrants who have been severely hit by the unplanned lockdown to contain the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Lakhs of the country's migrant workers are in distress. These are the people who have lost their jobs, have been left stranded with no wages, shelter or food since the lockdown was imposed.

The only place they can go to is home and are resorting to walking or cycling hundreds of miles.

The tragic part of this reverse migration is that labourers are losing lives. Instead of the coronavirus infection, migrants are dying from exhaustion, hunger or accidents at a distance just short of reaching their destination.

According to the data compiled by the Railway Protection Force (RPF) which was further reviewed by Hindustan Times states that there have been almost 80 deaths on board the Shramik Special trains between May 9 and May 27.

The publication quoted a zonal railway officer on the condition of anonymity revealing that heat, exhaustion and thirst were among the primary issues faced by passengers on board these trains.

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) while issuing notice to the Union Home Ministry, Indian Railways and Chief Secretaries of Gujarat and Bihar slammed their treatment of the migrant labourers, calling it close to barbarism.

Reports of such incidents suggest that the global pandemic has again brought to fore the reality of an unequal India.

The COVID-19 lockdown and its gradual extension were practically seen as a solution to tackle the virus outbreak by the rich and the middle class in the country. These are the people privileged with a regular source of income, shelter and space to maintain social distancing. The lockdown did not put their survival at stake but only caused a temporary inconvenience.

As the central government initiates "unlocking" of the economy in a phased manner with allowing inter and intrastate travel, the challenges for the less privileged don't seem to end.

The migrant workers are made to stay in squalid, makeshift quarantine facilities once they reach their native states, several of them crammed into a limited space. Reports have highlighted neglected state of conditions in such facilities with no provision of food, water or hygienic washrooms.

While the fortunate enjoying the comfort of their home, spend time recording videos of washing hand for twenty seconds and following through popular social media trends, the less privileged have been recorded unable to afford the luxury of distancing to avoid the infection, unable to even afford masks, sanitisers to protect themselves. All that would matter to them, would be to safely reach home.

Due to persistent confusion over guidelines and protocols, they have been stranded, starved, sprayed disinfectants meant to clean vehicles, harassed by the government and the police amid the lockdown.

Emerging as the tragic face of the coronavirus pandemic, in 'new' India, they have been left to fend for themselves. It has been quite tactfully coined as the Atmanirbhar Bharat by the Prime Minister.

Brining back lakhs of migrant workers home is no easy task, but had the government given a few days' time to these migrants to go home before the lockdown was imposed or extended, these workers would have gone home on their own.

It would have saved the Central and state governments from tremendous efforts, expenses and embarrassment.

Also Read: Indian Railways' Treatment Of Migrant Workers Borders 'Barbarism': National Human Rights Commission

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Contributors

Palak Agrawal

Palak Agrawal

Digital Journalist

Palak a journalism graduate believes in simplifying the complicated and writing about the extraordinary lives of ordinary people. She calls herself a " hodophile" or in layman words- a person who loves to travel.

Prateek Gautam

Prateek Gautam

Digital Editor

A free soul who believes that it is journalism apart from politics which should stand for the social cause and environment

Abhishek M

Abhishek M

Creative Producer

" An engineer by profession, Abhishek is the creative producer of the team, graphic designing is his passion and travelling his get away. In more ways than one, he makes the content visually appealing."

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