The Government of Nagaland has decided to give Rs 10,000, each, to its migrants in other states so that they can stay where they are. It is a smart, humane and cost-effective solution. Just compare this to the amount required to bring them home, quarantine them, etc. This also prevents the spread of the Corona virus from the hotspots to other areas. This approach can be adopted by all governments for the time the safe transportation by train and buses picks up pace. That process has begun, but many migrants (as distinct from many other sections rendered jobless) have lost patience and already set out for their homes.
One of the reasons for this sudden bursting of the banks is the deliberate rumour mongering by certain persons and groups. These are particularly visible among the ‘activists, philanthropists, philosophers, political and economic experts’ whose effort, 24X7, is confined to social media. Contributing little or nothing to solving the problem, they are more interested in instigating others – mostly for political reasons, but also because they have a negative approach to life. Any real sympathy for migrants would result in actually doing something for them on the ground on whatever scale possible, instead of demanding a total pie-in-the- sky solution from above.
The migrants have chosen to head for home despite being told not to do so by everybody (except the silent instigators). Their impatience can be justified to some extent in the case of young persons who are capable of hitch-hiking across India in the present weather. However, when they head out with children, many of them infants, it is reckless endangerment and a punishable crime. It is, however, being made out to be a heroic act by those who romanticise poverty as some noble state of being. They forget that poverty is the result very often of a consistent string of wrong choices. The decision to go back home under the present circumstances is one such.
Another reason for their abandonment is the fact that they are nobody’s voters. Most of them are not registered in the states they have migrated to, and they do not go back to their home states to cast their votes, either. So, nobody is keeping count. If there had been political will in host states such as Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Punjab, etc., it would have been easy to house and feed them for the months that the lockdown was in force. Of course, there are states and cities that have done better on this score, which should not be discounted. One such, without a doubt, has been Uttarakhand, which will be a source of pride in the days to come.