India’s migrant workers and the pandemic

The greatest internal migration crisis caused by the pandemic is in India, where, compared to large internal migration in China, workers are poor, the internal transportation system is much weaker, and governmental leadership is less resourced in expertise and funding.

In India, “The most indelible images of the impact of coronavirus in India have not been of the sick but of those in transit, the millions of migrant workers who crammed into bus depots and train stations, hitchhiked, and even walked for days to get home for the indefinite future.”

The Indian economy relies on 120 million migrant workers. In their villages, they may earn the equivalent of $2.50 a day; in the cities, $6 or more. On March 25, with a few hours’ notice, the Modi government shut the economy down. The nation does not have an unemployment compensation system to speak of. Kerala State, which in terms of social and health indices ranks at the top of the country’s states, took the initiative to create temporary camps for over 100,000 persons.

The country fortunately has had in place free bank accounts (“Jan Dahn”) for its poorer citizens. These can be used to facilitate aid payments.

Mostly from Juggernaut, a new online magazine about South Asia.

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