In this rapid globalization model, the economic growth plays a key role in turning the tables and live life with dignity. To match up the cost benefit ratio, there is a huge raise in the migrant workers ever before. As the population blooms and sharp rise in unemployment pushing people to migrate elsewhere in the world. ‘Migrant Labour’ can be defined as workers who are skilled or unskilled and move from place to place in offering their services to get better returns. The migrant workers may work inside their own country or take a base in other country. This phenomenon of remittances helps in boosting up the economy of the origin country and host as well.
The migrant workers are vulnerable to get their rights and exploitation. The adverse effects are shown on the agriculture sector with the migration of the labour to get better economic growth from non-agrarian sector. The absence of proper labour management system gives scope for the middleman to exploit the workers and the relation between employer and worker is not constant which may negate their rights.
Brief history of Migration:
The origin of migration can be traced back to the age of slavery and a high raise in the era of colonization dated to 15th century. In the initial stage the migrants looked for the shores to establish their trading operation centre. Gradually they tend to expand their transactions win collaboration with the local authorities. In the later phase, small scale industrialisation, minerals extraction and better transportation was established. The cultural differences and the racial segregation lead to differences with the locals. In later course the European countries took the hegemony over the Asian and African countries to maintain the slave trade and bonded labour.
The growth of colonization hadcreated vacuum to raise new labour forces which indeed boosted slaves export to America from African region. No native Americans can be enslaved by the colonists and this entire cycle took over three hundred years to end the slave culture. The exploitation of the people by the colonial rule left a major impact on their socio-economic conditions of many countries which are still evident today. The tradition of Migrant labour was on raise from last century which allows them to have better work rights and income.
Migrant Workers position in 21st Century:
The International Labour Organization was established in 1919, after the destructive war phase and it brings governments, employers and workers of all the states closer to set standard labour policies to promote decent work. The major aim of this organization is to rise decent employment opportunities and ensure social protection to all the workers without any differences. It was mandated to strive for better future and reach the most vulnerable sections of the society. The ILO has developed a system to maintain labour standards that creates opportunities, give freedom, equality, dignity and social security. In the global economic pattern these components help in building a stable framework to protect the labour rights and benefit the economic growth.
The inequalities in the economy and demographics widens the way to rapid growth of unemployment. It also combines with the poor development of infrastructure, excessive number of skilled labour and vulnerability in the market. The movement of the labour has raised in the past two decades in search of new opportunities which can boost up financial growth in the strata. The migrants help in filling the job roles in the host country and simultaneously contribute the origin country in the way of remittances. The mark of remittances was constant even in the times of political and economic crisis. The large growth in this pattern which exceeding the financial development funds, make up an idea to the governments in how best to use the resources as trade commodities. The migrant workers are been considering as trade materials to gain by agents, governments in some cases.
Position in India:
A much less attention is focused in planning to provide rights for the labour in India. There is a need todesign strategies and labour policies which helps in supporting their families, establishing a stable lifestyle. The issues are related to social security, education, health and decent working conditions. In our country there is a huge network of informal economy and loose labour policies which cannot address the problems relating to the migrant labour in or outside the country. Many are not covered under National labour laws where they can be subjected to poor wages, bad working conditions, Gender inequality, no proper housing and health care.
The seasonal migration is seen in many places across the country where over 120 million people migrate from rural to urban places. They work in urban firms, markets, industries, unorganised business economy etc. The migration was inevitable to many where they lack basic infrastructure, rainfall, fertile lands, hilly regions, population density and poverty. The political and social factors may also cause migration. The major section of unorganized sector is of migrants with several disadvantages. As they lack essential skills, are caught in exploitation which push them in low wage and poor work environment. They face discretion from the local people in certain cases and used in political vendetta.
Even there is huge population of migrant workers in the country, the policy makers failed miserably in safeguarding their legal and social protection. They keep on drowning in the vulnerable section and fails to jump from their social, economic status. The easy availability of more labour force gives a space for agents to exploit them. The Legislation made long back in 1979 known as Inter-state Migrant Workers Act, enacted with a purpose to safeguard the migrants. But the enforcement was barely observed in the country and doesn’t have any strong polices in the enactment. The migrants miss out in census surveys and hardly participates in the Elections which defeats the prime purpose of the Electoral system. The economic add-on to the country income by the migrant workers is enormous and the governments should act to frame inclusive growth policies which provides them sustainable future with dignity.
Hardships of Migrants in CORONA Crisis:
The wide shock to the people of the country soon after the announcement of the lockdown by the Prime Minister. This lockdown is the only way to handle and stop the widespread of the virus but the most effected are the Migrant workers, daily labourers, dependents on unorganised sector. They are in a situation where there a complete block for their income and left with nothing. The lockdown made millions of workers unemployed who are majorly from the rural backdrop. Most of them don’t have savings and a sudden plan to lead a life for 21 days makes it an impossible task. Many supporters say that the lockdown is mandatory but the needy have to be shown a path to brace this pandemic.
The unexpected decision of 21 days lockdown pushed millions of workers into a state of dilemma. The government assured to provide basic essentials but most of the migrants does not have eligibility to receive the benefits as they were not natives of the states. The strict mandates are given to maintain social distance and personal hygiene, but people with no penny to feed themselves became helpless. This lockdown has inflicted a massive movement of the migrants back to their hometowns even by a long march on the highways touching thousands of kilometres. The migrant workers are known with these measures but left with no option in hand, fearing of starvation death. Even though the Prime Minister apologized for the hardships, measures to save lives are need of the hour.
The social distancing in India where thepopulation density is 464 per square kilometre is a mirage, but the sudden lockdown made the streets locked and brought the world’s 7th largest economy to a halt. The government was working in a way to distribute the welfare schemes and the direct money transfers to the lower strata of the country. The major section of the migrant workers are excluded from the intersection zone who receives the benefits, the in person presence is absent even though they are eligible to receive.
Even before the crisis the country is struggling to cope up with unemployment and rise in GDP growth, COVID-19 made the hole much deeper. To show case the present scenario even the most reliable service “DABBAWALLAS” of Mumbai, who not even gave a break to their services in any crisis such as Mumbai terror attacks and Floods, have come to halt due to the present lockdown.
The situation raised due to the COVID-19 pandemic was inevitable and unprecedent hardship. This impacts every life in this country and push into a regime which is not experienced ever before. The future impact may have a prolonged recession, market breakdown and many deaths which are uncontrollable in a timeframe. Even after battling all these hardships, It shall be a spearing victory if we could keep an end to deaths and come out alive.
About the authors
Rajesh Kumar Wundavalli is from Andhra Pradesh completed his M.tech with specialization in Digital Image processing and Data Analytics, who is a freelance project engineer and his passion towards law made him take a diversion in this direction from Information technology to the legal field and is currently pursuing his LLB degree from Andhra University, Vizag. He eventually wants to join a corporate firm after his LLB. He is a tech-savvy, Bibliophile, pet lover, and enjoy exploring new places.
Pavani Garapati is a student of Andhra University, Andhra Pradesh.