Q: Migrant workers have always remained at the socio
-economic margins of our society, silently serving as the instrumental labour force of urban economics. The pandemic has brought them into national focus.
On announcement of a countrywide lockdown, a very large number of migrant workers decided to move back from their places of employment to their native villages. The non-availability of transport created its own problems. Added to this was the fear of starvation and inconvenience to their families. This caused
, the migrant workers to demand wages and transport facilities for returning to their villages. Their mental agony was accentuated by multiple factors such as a sudden loss of livelihood, possibility of lack of food and inability to assist in harvesting their rabi crop due to not being able to reach home in time. Reports of inadequate response of some districts in providing the essential boarding and lodging arrangements along the way multiplied their fears.
You have leant many lessons from this situation when you were tasked to oversee the functioning of the District Disaster Relief Force in your district. In your opinion, what ethical issues arose in the current migrant crisis? What do you understand by an ethical care giving state? What assistance can the civil society render to mitigate the sufferings of migrants in similar situations? (250 words)20
The sudden announcement of the nationwide lockdown and subsequent migration of migrant workers from cities to villages has brought forth the issue of growing inequality that has become a harsh reality in our everyday lives. These migrant workers abandon their native homes in search of means of livelihood which brings them under extremely harsh and unfavourable circumstances. The migrant labourers are the citizens of India and our Constitution mandates the state to provide them the right to a healthy and dignified life. They have been denied the right to health as they were left on the roads susceptible to the virus and their right to dignity was compromised as they were stopped from returning to their homes.
An ethical care-giving state must ensure a dignified life to all its population. For example, the state must have made certain travel arrangements to carry the migrants from their host states to the native states. Similarly, the host states must have made arrangements for the lodging and food for these migrant workers during the course of the lockdown in order to save them from starvation.
Civil society has a responsibility towards its fellow citizens in times of need. They can assist the migrants in such a situation by helping them in multiple ways like:
·Keep paying the domestic servants and maids their full or partial wages.
·Donate liberally to NGOs and government bodies to provide financial support to migrants.
·Provide ration, food and shelter to migrant workers.
·The business and industries must pay at least partial wages to their workers.
·Treat migrants with dignity and appreciate their contribution in society.
Source : ‘Ethics, Integrity & Aptitude for Civil Services Examination’by Dr Awdhesh Singh, available at