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The Homecoming Ordeal: A National Effort

By Shaurya Sheoran, Student, International School of Geneva

One of the world’s biggest democracies had gone into lockdown on 24 March 2020 because of the COVID 19 pandemic. India also became a part of one of the worst-hit countries with the number of cases rising every day, going up to over 12,000 cases in a single day! The part of society that has faced more hardships than anyone else is the migrant workers who are still struggling to get back home. The Indian migrant workers have had to deal with problems like the loss of income and food shortages. The crisis started when the country’s government had asked all manufacturing units and workplaces to shut down as a part of a national lockdown, which led to millions of migrant workers being abandoned by their employers. Most of them had no job, shelter or money to buy food.

Even though the Indian government has made attempts to deal with the crisis, it hasn’t been enough to help out the migrant workers. The lack of efforts from the government has led to the common citizens coming to fore and playing their part in supplying the workers with essential amenities and organizing transport arrangements. The country’s citizens have stepped up by raising funds and arranging food drives. Restaurants and kitchens all over India have started packaging and supplying food to the people in need for free. Popular restaurants like Big City Pizza and Cafeteria and Co. have been supplying workers with free of cost food. The financial capital of India, Mumbai has also stepped in by creating a citizens initiative called ‘Khaana Chahiye’ (Hindi for “need food”) to ensure the migrant workers don’t go hungry during the lockdown. Currently, the initiative is supplying 70,000 meals per day to almost every part of the city. Similar initiatives have been working on supplying food to every corner of the country. Project Thali is another community-driven project that provides cooked meals to over 20 cities in India. The project has partnered with a restaurant in almost every state to maintain a constant food supply. The country’s citizens have clearly played a huge role in the food supply chain for migrant workers.

The entertainment industry in India is unarguably the most influential community in the sub-continent with millions of followers on social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Bollywood stars and celebrities like Sonu Sood, Amitabh Bachchan and Salman Khan have taken the lead to help migrant workers. Sonu Sood had recently arranged for several buses and flights for the migrant workers to get back home safe and sound. The actor has taken upon himself to help the migrant workers return home. The actor has also recently airlifted 177 migrant workers stuck in Kerala in order to bring them home. On top of the transport arrangements, the actor has also donated to charities and organized food distribution to 25,000 migrant workers during Ramzan. Sonu Sood has been constantly updating and informing his 3.4 million followers on Instagram of the crisis. The posts have clearly been a way to influence people and make them aware of the whole situation. The actor has also created a hotline for people to contact him and make aware of their situation. Many other celebrities also joined and supported his efforts.

Alumni associations like Welham Wings and National Law Schools also took on the mission to reunite families during the pandemic as the public transport came to a halt and migrant workers were stranded on roads fighting for their survival. The alumni of the highly respected school Welhams have been raising funds to arrange a chartered flight for migrant workers.

Although the country is suffering from the burden of the disease which has made life impossible, the citizens have stepped up and started helping the people in need. While many are losing hope, there are people coming forward to fill the gaps and support the underprivileged migrant workers. India is a complex country and the COVID-19 pandemic has put the entire country in a very critical situation, however, it has brought its citizens together. This shows the resilience of the Indian community that will guide us through this phase.



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