I start with a story.
A photo journalist Mr. Kevin Carter had been covering disastrous famine of 90s in Sudan when he took shot of a dying child and an awaiting vulture by chance during his journalistic detour. The photo captioned “ The vulture & The little girl “ brought Carter Pulitzer honours.
Later during a reception, one gentleman asked ,” Mr. Carter, what happened to that girl eventually?”
Mr. Carter replied,” no idea. I needed to rush for my flight.”
The person asked ,” how many vultures you noticed—only one?”
Carter said ‘ possibly.’
The person asserted, “ no sir, I could see two vultures – the other one holding a camera.”
Carter was terribly distressed and later mentally frustrated to commit suicide for whatever reasons.
The prologue refers to the continuous eye catching photo coverage daily on all kinds of media referring to the plight, woes and worries of the lost job masses and their consequent home bound exodus out of fear from quarantine,uncertain future and hunger.No doubt the stark realities of the situation with supportive pictures help raising up sales and TRP for the print as well as audiovisual media, but have these not been proactively brought into public domain, neither we would know nor the authorities would have taken cognizance of the massive fallouts of the pandemic.
To look through, the Corona virus does continue to affect the population of almost all countries and lack of prior knowledge and effective remedial drugs,it has been extremely deadly for the human.Each country has evolved its own strategy of individual distancing with protocol for country wide locked down for all sorts of commercial and individual movements and in open activities. Thus far India also remains on same global platform and WHO standardised procedures.
The chink appears to have come , on our shield to fight the pandemic ,out of our vast magnitude of workforce engaged in the non- formal or unorganised sector of our country.No other nation( data not available for China)comprises their economy with this level of contribution from the unorganised ( non- agriculture) sector business and allied enterprise as traditionally prevailing in India.
As per Economic Survey (2018-19) more than 90% of our working population are engaged in the unorganised sector which does include also self employed . NITI AYOG figures for workers in the unorganised sector are around 86% of total workforce. (Numerically, out of Total 45 cr. employed persons ,nearly 42 cr. work in the informal or unorganised sector).When one looks at the employment vector, further revelations come as shocker.Nearly 70% of workers in the unorganised sector are paid wages informally without any type of contract/ agreement ; no paid leave apart. However, we need to bear, all available data in respect of informal sector are itself unverifiable or informal and at variances from one to other. Shamefully, even after 72 years of Independence , Minimum Wages Act has not been effectively implemented , admitted in the Economic Survey- one in every three wagers fallen through crack.These workers have no welfare supports , no work hours limit or not all covered under Unorganised Workers` Social Security Act 2008—alleged all Trade Unions.
In terms of U.N.O report on Hunger , India ranks 102 amongst 117 countries as per Hunger index and 14% of our total population of app. 135 cr. are under- nourished or without diets.For sure, as a nation we have failed to ensure minimum guarantee of wages and diet to a vast majority of our country men, despite number of committee reports, policy programmes and budgetary outlays.
This is the untold tale and unkindest of efforts to alleviate poverty and hunger for the mass.The consequences have forced people to shift or to settle for comparatively greener Pasteur elsewhere from their home intrastate or interstate: these are people– the operative force in various manufacturing units,trade and business,eating houses,construction works and self employed professions as encompassed in informal arena .
The people migrating out of home states are because of squeezing employment opportunities, reducing farm land, perpetual indebtedness and poverty as common existential reasons.Their presence create incentives to the economy of cities or states they get settled seasonally or permanently; their wages.savings and remittances help boost the economy of the original home . As per 2011 Census , Total figure of migrant people arrived at 45.58 cr. out of whom 39.57 were intra state and remaining interstate . Half of total migrated people shift from U.P & Bihar to other states and there continues a steady flow of job seekers from neighbouring Bangladesh, Nepal and others. Despite the existence of so vast migrated workforce, no official count or record are maintained at any level except collating from records scattered at different agencies or departments.A few years back in 2012 Committee on unorganised sector set up by National Statistical Commission noted — 50% of GNP contributed by the sector but lack of reliable data on size ,distribution and share of the informal sector had been constraint to the understanding of its significance in the development planning.Even in recent past, a study by ISID affiliated to ICSSR suggested reforms to push the sector and its workforce.
When the authority declared Pandemic and subsequent stringent locked down formalities ,it came as bolt from blue on the country`s already ailing economy,no matter it has been Happenings on world economy , strong or weak.The organised sector were able to adjust and adapt different lines of operational procedures albeit slowly but entire informal sector( farm and nonfarm ) has come to halt nationwide abruptly without cushioning time alike demonetisation saga. Obviously, the workforce engaged in this sector lost job with activities shut,gradually lost saved money ( if at all ) to pay for food,rent and essentials.Thus commenced since MARCH END 2020 the Great Exodus of the workfoce for life and security from the unorganised and partly also organised sector to the Home out of fear and escape from Covid virus,hunger and administrative excesses.The lack of coordination,planning , backup synergy and quick response caused great mess and havoc to the homeless hunger stricken people and their families wandering on Highways,Railways or Bus stands. No doubt improper or misinformations had been floated from vested sources but inept or insensitive handlings by administration who were caught off-guard only aggravate the intensity of critical situation.
But for continuous highlights in the media, the subsequent corrective steps undertaken by the authorities would likely to be delayed farther .To condemn media on focusing too much on migrants `distress as adversarial to the authority is manifestation of despondency not compatible to our human and democratic values.We all need to move along, take along and grow along to combat crisis and to assist the distressed for a better India.