Updated: Jun 22, 2020
Dear friends and supporters
After our last blog, we updated you about 1,000+ migrant workers, stranded due to sudden cancellations of Shramik-Special-Trains, some of you asked why should we help them? Should they now not stay back as the distress is not so bad anymore? and, why did they not go back earlier and will they return? So we asked these questions from another 72 migrants, we assisted get home in two buses on Friday, June 12 night (thank you APPI and CNLU for sponsoring these buses).
Here are the responses of Ashwini Kumar, Gudia Devi, Savita Devi and Jitendra Kumar, in two 2-minute videos. Given this uncertainty in their lives, lack of jobs/income/opportunities, food and transportation poverty, children being take out of their schools, landlords confiscating their property in lieu of rent, and worse, is it any surprise that many of them still want to leave, some with no desire to come back?
1. Are many of them still so distressed that they want to return home and need help?
2. Why did they not go back earlier and will they come back?
"इंजीनियरिंग कर के आया था यहाँ पे..जब काम शुरू हुआ तब पता लगा की यहाँ कोई अच्छी कंपनी नहीं हैं."...."I came here after my engineering degree..but when I started working, I learnt that there are no good companies here"....Sarvan Kumar, 21, arrived in Gurgaon early March.
"जब पैसे नहीं रहेंगे तोह खायेंगे कहा से?".."When there is no money, where will the food come from?"...Savita Devi, fruit vendor.
"मकान मालिक ने किराया नहीं माफ़ किया। अभी दो महीने का बिजली बिल भर कर आया हूँ".."My landlord would not reduce my rent. I could come here only after paying the electricity bill for two months."...Gudia Devi
"इस से गरीब का घाटा हैं, बड़े लोगों का नफा है इस में".."Right now, the poor are losing and the rich are winning"...Jitendra Kumar, 32, feels alone and alienated.
Clearly, although the most distressed have already left, there are still hundreds, if not thousands, just in Manesar, in distress and in need of help. To get them back and stay happily and productively, the industry and the state needs to do better than the past.
As we said in the last blog, we do not aim to become a migration-CSO. As (hopefully soon) the situation improves, we will revert gradually to our original mandates of ESIC and Auto-sector supply chain safety reform. Third wage/employment Rapid Survey (worker job-problems that employers need to consider): In parallel with the above, we also conducted a rapid survey of 111 migrant workers last week, in partnership with Agrasar, as a sequel of our last two wage surveys for non-payment of March wages and April wages ("Unworthy") and found (We will publish report in the next few days):
c.25% were already in their villages (previous month c.23%)
Of the c.75% in Gurgaon, c.30% still do not have any job.
Of those back in a job, c.35% are earning less than their already meagre pre-COVID19 wages and 29% (8% last month) do not want to continue in the same job.
Of those unemployed, almost half do not know when they will get any job.
57% have borrowed for rent or landlord has given some time to pay.
43% have borrowed for food from grocery store/friends/family and another 35% have spent from their meagre savings.
With this kind of uncertainty and unhappiness among these migrants, who earn c.Rs.8,000-Rs15,000 a month, many on daily wages, can one really question their desire to get back home while they figure out their future? We have now also seen private buses running from Manesar to Bihar charging c.Rs3,500 per head, more than twice the pre-COVID19 rates.
Rations and Mask distribution continued
The overall level of food distress has thankfully reduced compared to past two months. However, with high unemployment, cash running out, uncertainty, and even lower incomes, we continue to receive requests from many food-distressed families. In the past two weeks, we distributed another 16,000 ADUs (Each Adult Daily Unit is enough for two meals per adult or 4 meals per child) and 5,100 masks. Total meals supplied in past 12 weeks are now at 460,000+ and masks (started five weeks back) at 21,000+, since we repurposed temporarily for COVID19 Relief.
Thank you for your continued support and encouragement.
Stay Safe. Stay healthy. Work safe.
Indian passport-holders, paying from their Rupee accounts/cards (80G Indian tax-relief available for 50% of your donations): www.safeinindia.org/donate
Foreign passport holders and entities, and foreign currency payers, pleased donate to Manzil through Team Seva; a USA based charity eligible under Sec 501c3 for USA tax-relief): https://manzil.funraise.org/