Migrant Workers Issues – UPSC GS3

Migrant Workers suffered during COVID. It is not an exception but an effect of their implicit exclusion from full citizenship.
Issues faced by the migrants:
  • Lack of choices: The lockdown offered them only two options – starvation/charity or an arduous walk to their homes, risking starvation and death
  • Absence of permanent home and belongings: of migrant workers has led to the tradition of shifting settlements.
  • Lack of support: due to invisibility of migrant workers in government records;
  • Colonial treatment: Indian state’s governance structure treats these nomadic tribes either as threat or nuisance. (under the Habitual Offenders Act, 1952).
  • No legal remedySection 4 of the Epidemic Disease Act 1897 provides protection to law enforcement officers adversely impacting the remedial rights of the migrants.
  • Lack of income: They exploited by providing low wages and working in inhumane conditions because there is an endless supply of migrant workers who can replace them for low wages. A large portion of lowly paid labouring population has historically come from Adivasi, Dalit and socially oppressed castes as well as religious minorities.
  • Lack of organized platform: The new labour codes make it nearly impossible to unionize.
Way Forward:
  • Bridging the social distance: between mi­grant workers and the rest of urban society, including the ruling elites.
  • Process of claiming entitlements as citizens (such as decent pay, housing, and social protection) requires migrant workers to get organized.
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