Published: 01st June 2020
Why IIT, IISER student groups are condemning government handing of migrant crisis during lockdown
We have discussed the impact of present economic system in the education and in our day to day lives, the students said
The Coordination of Science and Technology Institutes' Students Association involving students groups from various IITs and IISER in the country has accused the government of not doing enough to address the plight of the migrant workers. "The recent pandemic has laid bare the two opposite social realities of India which often time manifests itself as mere numbers of inequality or hunger indices," the COSTISA said.
COSTISA includes the Ambedkar Periyar Phule Study Circle, IIT Bombay, Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle, IIT Madras, Confluence, IISER Mohali, Forum for Critical Thinking, IIT Kanpur, Science Education Group, IIT Kharagpur, Students For Change, IIT BHU. The students say in their statement that they are a group that has been trying to understand the social-economic reality of India and are putting effort into engaging through different means. "For the past thirty years, the neo-liberal economy has resulted in defunding of government initiatives in several procurement and distribution systems. With lesser intervention of the government, the farmers had been subjected to the rapid fluctuations of the market. On top of everything the government time and again denied proper and fair minimum supporting price to its farmers. Some of the worst victims of this have been the small and tenant farmers because of the lack of proper land redistribution." they said in their statement. They also pointed out that a huge number of agricultural workers, mostly from the Dalits, Bahujans and Adivasis, had to migrate to cities to sell their labour power. "The neo-liberal informalised economy in India has been presupposed by creation of migrant dispossessed labourers from our villages," they add.
With the inter-state trains and flights being suspended, the lockdown and the sudden halt in the economic activity rendered a huge amount of migrant labour stranded to their workplace, they stated. "In spite of the feeble suggestions by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to pay the due wages along with full wages in the time of the lockdown, in most of the cases the migrant labourers were denied even their basic subsistence that was to be given to them by the respective contractors," COSTISA said
The lockdown pushed us over the edge, they claimed. "Sadly, when the pandemic of COVID-19 is threatening our existence, without discriminating on the basis of class, caste, religion or ethnicity, the state has been shamefully responding in a way which exposes its pro-big business, anti-poor attitude. Declaration of a lockdown without any prior consideration of the most vulnerable sections of our country, not providing proper test kits and adequate affordable health facilities, using gimmicks instead of building efficient make-shift government initiated hospitals, outright communalisation of the pandemic, the apathy and lack of providing enough transportation to workers - all these bear testimony of a state which celebrates despotism and unreason at the cost of the poor of this country," the COSTISA members feel.
Raising the issue that was the country's priority before COVID struck, the students said, "Implementation of laws such as NRC and CAA can make whole sections of Indian people, including a large number of migrant labourers in our country, into second-class citizens or worse stateless people. This can potentially create more cheap labourers which will worsen the condition of the working class of India."
The members feels it is important for us to struggle for an alternative to this exploitation, "COSTISA asks the people of our country to unite in solidarity to resist the state from enforcing its ruling class response. COSTISA demands a fair and efficient response which ensures the safety and security of all our people, especially the migrant labourers. We have examples from both within the country and across the globe to build upon."