Friday, June 17, 2016

A case for looking after migrant labour.

In God's own country, there's no dearth of jobs but it's the attitude of the Malayalees towards menial jobs that has contributed greatly towards unemployment among the youth. An average Malayalee dreams of a white collar job in some government office and that, unfortunately, is in short supply. A few of the enterprising migrate to the gulf countries willing to do any job and thus, a majority of them work as labourers in the construction field out there. An irony, in the sense, that if they're willing to do the same in their own backyard, the state would have been quite ahead in many fields.

The belligerence of the trade unions was once a bugbear but they've realised that their attitudes need a makeover in the present times and because of the simple factor that the multinational IT companies have discouraged trade unionism among its workforce!

And it's into this vacuum of manual labour that the migrants, from the north eastern region of the country, have made a surge over the last ten years or so and by now, theirs is a sizeable population. It's said that for them, migration to Kerala is akin to what migrating to the gulf regions is for a Malayalee!

It seems to be a win win situation for all concerned. I shall jot down the most noticeable phenomenon as a result of this vibrant migrant population:-

      (a) Migrant labour is cheaper than local labour. But the rates for the migrants are unimaginable
           compared to what they get back home for the same work!
      (b) They're less militant like and adhere to a reasonable time schedule of work. The local labour
            requires a tot in the afternoon to tackle 'strenuous' jobs like working in open fields under the
            scorching heat of the sun/the harsh downpour!
      (c) The small grocery shops/vegetable vendors have adequate stocks to satisfy this clientele and
            many of the vendors have acquired mastery over a smattering of Hindi.
      (d) Hindi movies have drifted into the rural landscape of Kerala.

The flip side of the situation could be classified into:-

       (a) Inhuman conditions of staying - sanitation and waste disposal have reached alarmingly
             pitiable conditions.
       (b) Law and order problems involving the migrants - the ongoing investigations on the Jisha
             murder is a case in point.
       (c) Faultless documentation and necessary security clearances are slowly being put into place.
       (d) Their acceptability among the local populace, as human beings with equal dignity, has been
             slow in coming.


The complete documentation of migrant labour is very, very imporatant. While getting work out of them, it's equally important to look after their welfare. If they live in unhygienic conditions, it won't take much time for the resultant health issues to be affecting the local populace too. In other words, they need to be cared for and given due dignity. Of course, there's no question of laxity in the application of the law and mistakes must be dealt with an iron hand!

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