Skip to main content

Discussion on plight, challenges, rights and privileges of migrant workers


The Open Forum, with the participation of migrant workers, organisations and individuals working among them, provided an opportunity to collectively reflect on what needs to be done to secure a life of dignity for the migrant workers, their children and families. A note:
***
In solidarity with migrant workers, “Open Forum: Accompanying Distress Migrants” was held in Delhi to bring to public consciousness their plight, experiences and challenges. It was organised in commemoration of the adoption of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families by UN General Assembly on 18 December, 1990.
Dr Rashmi Singh, Special Secretary cum Director, Department of Women and Child Development and Social Welfare, Government of National Capital Territory Delhi (GNCTD) in her address shared that “Migrants, who are involved in various sectors of the economy, make significant contribution to the life in our cities. This day reminds ourselves of the sacrifices and contributions of migrant workers in building cities we live in and taking on the essential services affecting our daily lives”. Congratulating the platform MAIN — Migrant Assistance and Information Network — for initiating the collective action, Dr Singh said “when we talk of information network, there is an exchange of commitments. There is no dearth of concepts, and in today’s date; and there is a great need for complete information, awareness and support”. If migrant workers are aware about their rights, then they themselves will come forward to enroll their children in anganwadis where they get the facility of nutrition and also preschool education.
Dr Singh shared about the Saheli Samanvay Kendras (SSKs), which is a unique scheme for socio-economic empowerment of women in Delhi. Acting as convergence centres, SSKs are providing on-demand services. They avoid all sorts of gatekeeping. Mental blocks should be curtained in way to realise that such services are meant for us. Awareness is important, but migrants should be connect with schemes, especially Shram portal, social security and income support programmes that are available. In order to take benefit of such programmes and schemes it is important to connect with government.
The MAIN network should be made effective use of as it can provide handholding support for getting the documentation done for accessing schemes and programmes by migrant workers.
Dr Jerome Stanislaus D’Souza, President of the Jesuit Conference of South Asia (JCSA) said, “The Open Forum is being held not only to mark the day, but also to awaken the consciousness of the public regarding the plight and the challenges, rights and privileges of the migrant workers”. Quoting Ban Ki-moon, former UN Secretary-General, he said that migration is a global phenomenon, and the reasons for migration are many– search for food, safe environment and protection from physical dangers. However, the important cause for migration is the dream and desire for better life. Dr D’Souza said the most unkindest response from the government was that it publicly denied the knowledge about the number of migrants and the number of their deaths during the pandemic. The government shunned its responsibility completely. He added that although the state of migrants is public knowledge now, it is important to publicise the narrative of the migrants, and to find pathways to support them in their endeavours towards a dignified life. It is in this context that the MAIN was initiated. Dr D’Souza concluded by pointing the need to collectively find an answer to build a dignified life for the migrants, and renew our love and commitment to migrants.
Dr Indu Prakash Singh, Chairperson, Ashakiran (GNCTD), and Member of the State Level Shelter Monitoring Committee set up on the Orders of the Supreme Court of India, said “Cities being promoted as the engines of growth” is the main reason for migration. People are coming to cities as there is no job in the villages to sustain them. There is nothing left in villages, and cities are the last resort for them. There exists two Indias—India and non-India. While everything works perfect—the Constitution of India, Supreme Court, etc, in the former, the non-India is of the poor, migrants, Dalits, Muslims, Christians, marginalised, etc. The poor and the migrant workers in the cities are the CityMakers, as they are the builders of cities and nation. Government is duty bound to make people atma nirbhar, and provide adequate housing to migrant workers coming to cities. In this Forum, we need to think about what policies are to be there in place to ensure a decent livelihood for people, especially migrant workers. Dr Singh added that at a time when the government failed to reach out to migrant workers who were in extreme distress during the COVID, several organisations, networks and people stood with them and provided support, and we should take pride in their solidarity.
“Increasing connectivity through rail and roadways is increasing the trend of migration”, said Bipin Kumar Rai, Member-Expert, Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB). The situation has not changed, which began during the Britishers wherein railways were used for transporting materials and cheap labour to cities for industries. Migrant workers are not only in cities but also in our villages too. If we look at the issues of housing, we need to recognise that migrant workers are not coming to cities for housing, but to work. It is important to look at their issues in larger perspective, and bring solutions to them through effective policies. Delhi government has come up with effective housing policies, after studying the rehabilitation schemes and policies in cities like Mumbai, to provide housing for 5000 families. Resettlement for another 9000 families is also in the process. However, there are ambiguities in rules and regulations being framed by the central government, which is delaying the implementation of the housing schemes, Rai said.
Ms Jyoti Awasthi, Director, Laxmi, and the co-Founder and CEO of Satat Sampada, Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, shared that the COVID pandemic brought the realisation that the crores of migrant workers among us in the cities do not have any social security, and when their work got affected the thought about their villages and family back home forced them to fled cities. They came to cities for work, with their dream to support their own home back home in villages. Today is an opportunity for us to look back and understand why migrants are coming to cities. If the migrants coming to cities have minimum skills, the ability to pay their train tickets, and support their stay, they are welcome. If they are distress migrants due to issues in family, violence, conflict, exploitation in villages, etc, they come with lot of problems. Nobody wants to leave home, and all those who leave their villages want to return once situation gets improved. Ms Awasthi added that the challenges are many since livelihoods are increasingly affected due to climate change, as more than 9 lakh people have got displaced due to climate change, work opportunities in cities are getting limited due to mechanisation, etc. Issues of migration will only get increase in the coming years.
Ms Awasthi added that MAIN needs to look at the hotspots of migrants and what can be done for the distress people there, as it is critical to address distress migration.
Dr Siji Chacko, Director, MAIN and the Conference Development Office, Jesuit Conference of India/South Asia, welcomed the participants and also shared about MAIN. He shared that MAIN is the outcome of the felt-need for a concerted, collective and innovative response to reach out to the distress migrant workers across 12 States in India. It is envisaged to work closely in collaboration with NGOs, institutions, organisations, and state governments by developing a replicable and sustainable model of Accompanying, Serving and Advocating for the cause of distress migrants. Dr Denzil Fernandes, Executive Director, Indian Social Institute, Delhi, shared how MAIN as a collaborative effort is evolving as a national network. He acknowledged the importance of awareness during the pandemic, and the support provided by the network across the states.
While endorsing this year’s global theme of “Harnessing the Potential of Human Mobility”, the Open Forum in its Declaration called upon:State and policy makers at various levels to address the real concerns of migrant workers by tackling poverty, insecurity and social exclusion with appropriate policies for decent jobs, decent wages, social security and protection measures, and social justice respecting democratic coexistence in diversity and pluralism;
Fellow citizens and governments to join in the collective action required to respond the vulnerabilities faced by distress migrant workers;
Individuals, institutions, organisations including NGOs working with migrants, to contribute to develop adequate policy response in order to harness the potential of migration, thereby ensuring that the basic and fundamental human rights of migrants are protected;
State to ensure and improve access to schemes, programmes and entitlements for all migrant workers; and
State to strengthen data systems to help policymakers, planners and programme implementers to design effective targeted interventions for distress migrants.
Further, the Declaration has called on the state to restructure its policies around basic livelihood resources and their use to ensure that migrant workers’ livelihoods are comprehensively ensured, and that food security, adequate housing, including shelters for migrant workers in cities, income security, social protection (including healthcare, insurance, childcare services) as well as bodily integrity are duly protected. As a network, MAIN, has committed to extend its outreach to distress migrants to strengthen their voices to achieve their rights and entitlements for a life with dignity.
The Open Forum was organised by MAIN, Conference Development Office (CDO) of the Jesuit Conference of India/South Asia and Indian Social Institute (ISI). More than 150 participants including migrant workers and representatives of various organisations and networks working among unorganised sector workers attended the Forum held at ISI, Delhi. They also addressed the gathering, and shared their experiences and challenges. Community workers celebrated the event singing theme songs. The event also showcased the support provided by the network to migrant workers and their families across several states during the pandemic.

Comments

TRENDING

Women for Water: WICCI resource council for empowering women entrepreneurs, leaders

By Mansee Bal Bhargava*  The Water Resources Council of the Women’s Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry is formed for 2022-24. A National Business Chamber for Women, the Women’s Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry ( WICCI ) is a premier association empowering women entrepreneurs and leaders in all walks of life through advocacy, pro-active representations to government, implementing projects for women via funds allocated by various government agencies and corporates, plus bringing awareness on all issues that concern women. WICCI boosts and builds women’s entrepreneurship and businesses through greater engagement with government, institutions, global trade and networks. WICCI enables fundamental changes in governmental policies, laws, incentives and sanctions through proper channel, with a view to robustly encourage and empower women in business, industry and commerce across all sectors. WICCI is supported by the massive global networks of ALL Ladies League (ALL), Women Eco

75 yrs of water in India: whither decentralised governance to sustain the precious resource?

By Shubhangi Rai, Megha Gupta, Fawzia Tarannum, Mansee Bal Bhargava Looking into the last century, water resources management have come a long way from the living with water in the villages to the nimbyism and capitalism in the cities to coming full cycle with room for water in the villages. With the climate change induced water crisis, the focus on conservation and management of water resources if furthered in both national and local agenda. The Water management 2021 report by NITI Aayog acknowledges that water and sustainability are of immense importance for the sustenance of life on earth. Water is intricately linked to the health, food security and livelihood. With business as usual, India’s water availability will only be enough to meet 50% of its total demand and 40% of the population in India will have no access to drinking water and sanitation by 2030 . Its Composite Water Management Index 2021 states that ‘India is suffering from the worst water crisis in its history and mil

CAG’s audit report creates a case for dismantling of UIDAI, scrapping Aadhaar

By Gopal Krishna  The total estimated budget of the biometric UID/Aadhaar number project and its cost: benefit analysis has not been disclosed till date. Unless the total estimated budget of the project is revealed, all claims of benefits are suspect and untrustworthy. How can one know about total savings unless the total cost is disclosed? Can limited audit of continuing expenditure of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), an instrumentality of Union of India be deemed a substitute for total estimated budget of the biometric UID/Aadhaar number project of UIDAI? It has been admitted by CAG that the audit of functioning of the UIDAI is partial because of non-transparency. The report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India arising from performance audit of functioning of the UIDAI for the period from 2014-15 to 2018-19 is incomplete because it is based on statistical information “to the extent as furnished by UIDAI” upto March 2021. There is also a need to compa

Grassroot innovations in water management: Policy challenges amidst climate change

By Shubhangi Rai[1], Megha Gupta[2], Mansee Bal Bhargava[3] India despite of having a vast traditional water management history continue to struggle with water crisis from disasters like floods and droughts but more with social distress leading to asymmetric access to water goods and services. The rising water crisis in a country that is abundant in water resources and wisdom is worth questioning and resolving. The knowledge that was passed on by our ancestors who used a diverse range of structures that helped harvest rainwater locally besides replenish and recharge the groundwater along the way. Formal and informal rules were locally crafted by the community on who to use the water, how much to use, when to use, how to penalise for misuse, how to resolve conflicts and many more. As a nation, we need to revive our dying wisdom of the traditional water management systems and as water commons, enable the governing mechanisms towards sustainability. In the session on ‘ Grassroot Innovatio

Need to destroy dowry, annihilate greed and toxic patriarchy in India

By IMPRI Team Talking about an evil ever-persistent in our society and highlighting the presence of toxic patriarchy, #IMPRI Gender Impact Studies Center (GISC) , IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi organized a panel discussion on Destroy Dowry: Annihilation of Greed and Toxic Patriarchy in India under the series The State of Gender Equality – #GenderGaps on May 4, 2022. The chair for the event was Prof Vibhuti Patel, Former Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai and a Visiting Professor, IMPRI. The distinguished panel included – Asha Kulkarni, General Secretary at Anti Dowry Movement, Mumbai ; Kamal Thakar, Sahiyar Stree Sangathan ; Adv Celin Thomas, Advocate at Celin Thomas and Associates, Bengaluru; Shalini Mathur, Honorary Secretary, Suraksha Dahej Maang Virodhi Sanstha Tatha Parivar Paraamarsh Kendra, Lucknow and Secretary, Nav Kalyani Foundation, Gender Resource and Training Centre; and Dr Bharti Sharma, Honorary Secretary, Shakti Shalini

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: Implications for India and emerging geopolitics

By IMPRI Team In the backdrop of the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, #IMPRI Center for International Relations and Strategic Studies (CIRSS) , IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi hosted a panel discussion on Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine: Implications for India and Emerging Geopolitics. The event was chaired by Ambassador Anil Trigunayat (IFS Retd.), Former Ambassador to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Libya, and Malta; Former Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of India, Moscow. The panelists of the event were Prof Waheguru Pal Singh Sidhu, Clinical Professor, Center for Global Affairs, New York University; H.E. Freddy Svane, Ambassador, Royal Danish Embassy, New Delhi; Maj. Gen. (Dr) P. K. Chakravorty, Strategic Thinker on Security Issues; and T. K. Arun, Senior Journalist, and Columnist. Ambassador Anil Trigunayat commenced the discussion by stating the fact that wars are evil. He opines that no war has ever brought peace and prosperity to any country and

Making Indian cities disaster, climate resilient: Towards actionable urban planning

By IMPRI Team  Three-Day Online Certificate Training Programme on “Making Indian Cities Disaster and Climate Change Resilient: Towards Responsive and Actionable Urban Planning, Policy and Development”: Day 1 A three day Online Certificate Training Programme on the theme “Making Indian Cities Disaster and Climate Change Resilient: Towards Responsive and Actionable Urban Planning, Policy and Development”, a joint initiative of the National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM) , Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, was held at the Centre for Habitat, Urban and Regional Studies at IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi. Inaugurating the session Ms. Karnika Arun, Researcher at IMPRI, welcomed the speakers and participants to the program with an introduction to the eminent panellists. Day 1 of the program included Prof Anil K Gupta, Head ECDRM, NIDM, New Delhi and Mr Tikender Singh Panwar, Former Deputy Mayor, Shimla; Visiting Senior Fellow, IMPRI as conveners, an

Gender gap: Women face disproportionate barriers in accessing finance

By IMPRI Team Women worldwide disproportionately face barriers to financial access that prevents them from participating in the economy and improving their lives. Providing access to finance for women is crucial for financial inclusion and, consequently, inclusive growth. To deliberate and encourage dialogue and discussion for growth, the Gender Impact Studies Center (GISC) of IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi, organized a web policy talk by Mr S. S. Bhat, Chief Executive Officer Friends of Women’s World Banking India, Ahmedabad on ‘Access to Finance for Women’ as a part of its series The State of Gender Equality – #GenderGaps. The session was started by the moderator, Chavi Jain, by introducing the speaker and the discussants and inviting Prof. Vibhuti Patel to start the deliberation. Importance of access to finance for women Prof. Vibhuti Patel, Visiting Professor, IMPRI, New Delhi; Former Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai, began by expre

Impact of climate change on Gujarat pastoralists' traditional livelihood

By Varsha Bhagat-Ganguly, Karen Pinerio* We are sharing a study[1] based learning on climate resilience and adaptation strategies of pastoralists of Kachchh district, Gujarat. There are two objectives of the study: (i) to examine the impact of climate on traditional livelihood of pastoralists of Gujarat state; and (ii) to explore and document the adaptation strategies of pastoralists in mitigating climate adversities, with a focus on the role of women in it. In order to meet these objectives, the research inquiries focused on how pastoralists perceive climate change, how climate change has impacted their traditional livelihood, i.e., pastoralism in drylands (Krätli 2015), and how these pastoral families have evolved adaptation strategies that address climate change (CC)/ variabilities, i.e., traditional livelihood of pastoralists of Kachchh district, Gujarat state. Pastoralism is more than 5,000 years old land-use strategy in India; it is practised by nomadic (their entire livelihood r

How India, Bangladesh perceive, manage Sunderbans amidst climate change

By IMRPI Team The effects of climate change have been evident, and there have been a lot of debates around the changes to be made locally to help and save the earth. In this light, the nations met at the COP 26 conference recently. To discuss this further, the Center for Environment, Climate Change and Sustainable Development (CECCSD) , IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi , organized a panel discussion on “COP 26 and Locally Led Adaptations in India and Bangladesh Sunderbans” under the #WebPolicyTalk series- The State of the Environment – #PlanetTalks . The talk was chaired by Dr Jayanta Basu, Director, Non-profit EnGIO, Faculty at Calcutta University and an Environmental Journalist, The Telegraph , ABP . The Moderator of the event, Dr Simi Mehta, CEO and Editorial Director, IMPRI , started the discussion by stressing the talk on the living conditions of people living in the Sunderbans Delta from both the countries, i.e. India and Bangladesh. According to the report