Domestic migrant workers play an integral role in our States’ economies. It’s time they were valued as they deserve.
Intolerance and violence of any kind, for any reason is unacceptable. More so in India, where different regional communities have lived in the main in harmony for eons. Of course, our Constitution also guarantees freedom of movement throughout India and the right of every citizen to earn a living is both statutory and justiciable. It is in this context that the violence in Gujarat against migrant workers from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh leading to a mass exodus must be viewed as highly distressing. Estimates of those who have fled range from 20,000 to 50,000 migrants but whatever be the correct figure it is an undeniable fact that workers from outside the State have left in droves. The Gujarat Government, to its credit, has made serious efforts to quell the violence — arrests have been made, community organisations involved in outreach and Chief Minister Vijay Rupani has personally appealed to all migrant worker to return assuring them of safety and security. There are reports, though, of some politicians who have played a negative role in talking up hatred towards ‘outsiders’ in the aftermath of the brutal and highly condemnable rape and murder of 14-month-old infant in Sabarkantha allegedly by a migrant worker from Bihar.
But we would have learnt nothing from the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, to give just one example, if we blame an entire community or residents of a particular geography for the act of one of its members which too, remember, is as yet not proven in a court of law. It cannot be repeated enough but the fact is there is no substitute for due process and rule of law if we are to prevent India from sinking into a quagmire of exploitative anarchy. At a more prosaic level, the economy of Gujarat will take a serious hit if the exodus of migrant labour which is the mainstay of the workforce in sectors such as textiles, manufacturing and diamond cutting is not reversed. And already struggling Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, with the return of tens of thousands of unemployed men and women, will not do their growth rates any favours either if the current situation is not resolved expeditiously. At a time when our country has been championing the cause of free labour movement, sending its skilled manpower to foreign shores, it behoves all responsible Chief Ministers and Central leaders to intervene effectively. Migrants to any State within India are fulfilling a need and must be valued.
Writer: The Pioneer
Source: The Pioneer