The other day, I happened to say in an informal group of two-three families, that our migrant labourers have not been treated fairly and left to fend for themselves in the current pandemic crisis. Something concrete should have done, especially by their employers, to take care of them.
Immediately a comment came from one of my nephews, “Uncle, you always talk in ideal terms which are difficult to be executed. Why should the employers take care of them when they are no more in their employment? How can an organization survive if it takes care even of those who are not currently working with them?”
It was not late when another young member of the group said, “Yes, I agree with the contention that nobody should be taken care of during the period in which he has not contributed anything to the organization.”
At this point of time, another group member retorted, “Then why are you looking after your parents and children so well when they are not contributing anything to the coffers of the family.”
As the discussion had taken a slightly unpleasant turn, one of my nieces wanted the Government to own the full responsibility of the migrant labourers – as ours is a ‘Welfare State’, without bothering for the limited funds at the State level.”
Then another comment came from my grandson who wanted the richer people including the one who is the richest person in the whole of Asia, to come forward.
The discussion continued for quite some time and all types of suggestions and pieces of advice were put forward. We know Indians are very kind and fond of giving free advice and consultations – as we notice that whenever any person falls sick and is visited by his/her relatives, well-wishers, friends and colleagues – all giving free advice not only about the doctor(s) the patients should consult but also about the medicines and food items that he/she should take. A few of them go to the extent of advising that it would be better if the/she the patient may visit some “Tantrik” or take a dip in a particular “Sarovar” or “river”.
Having participated in the aforesaid discussion, I concluded (and almost all appeared agreeing with me) that it is neither the employers alone nor the Government and nor the philanthropists, etc, alone who can take care of aforesaid labourers. It is better if all of them should willingly come forward collectively and do their bit to the extent possible, especially the employers who have to, in particular, bear the consequences of migrating labourers leaving their job recently.
It is so because when the industries restart functioning the employers will have to recruit, train and retrain the new workforce as most of the migrant labourers are not likely to return so soon. Ethically too, at a time of such a crisis, it should be the responsibility of the head of the organization, at least, to take care of the minimum requirements of the migrant labourers by providing them with a part of their wages. If it is done, the labourers too will have a soft corner for the organization and compensate the expenditure incurred by the employers for retaining them by paying a part of their wages.