After working for almost three long decades in close proximity of the government, one learning I have is that Indian politician is a man most-maligned mainly because man on the street is unable to look inside the closed doors of the government.
My own understanding is that an average Indian politician is a man from the street who understands the pulse of the people and is actually an extremely accountable person facing public scrutiny informally 24×7 and formally once every five years.
So, while Bollywood has worked hard to destroy his image, the truth is, Indian politician is a go-to man for the masses who has always listened to them and tries solving their problems knowing fully well that he is answerable to the public unlike the rest of the government.
As we are busy watching movies with politicians subverting the system, we don’t really sense the positive role he plays in our life, but with this nCovid19 episode, the time has come to understand and appreciate the politicians as they are our main hope for economic revival, without which the very existence of our nation is at risk.
While nCovid19 has grabbed the headlines as a disaster of unprecedented scale, truth is, the epidemic component of it is insignificant compared to the greatest human right tragedy that unfolded before us during last month.
The “migrant labour problem“ as it is referred to is actually a misnomer for a unique phenomenon in the history of humanity where a great federation of states managed to produce a brand new class of refugees, i.e. administrative refugees that were rendered homeless and hence ended up roaming across a country that they thought was their homeland.
Though I don’t have the numbers, but this is a tragedy impacting crores of people and hence nCovid19 will never be able to match up to it in scale or economic impact.
As the nation will need the same people that it had left destitute on the highways, beaten with sticks and packed tight into slums in unbearable heat, we have a really serious point to ponder, because
No Economic Package Shall Re-start The Economy If Migrant Labour Doesn’t Return To Work.
The migrant labour exodus we are seeing has nothing to do with nCovid19.
In fact, the way they kept appearing in thousands, only to get pushed back to their shanties and yet we don’t have lakhs of cases of nCovid19 is a proof that epidemic was never their problem, the real problem was the fear and even more importantly the distrust in the system that they ended up developing.
The reason why they all want to go home is not that they are scared of falling ill, the reason is that they (now very clearly) know that no one listens to their problems and hence they can’t trust the system anymore.
And if we look for the reason behind this very human problem, it is clear that no one could reach them and make them feel cared for. When they looked for the answers, they were met with stout sticks instead of a sympathetic ear, and this happened due to absence of the stakeholder who is expert at this.
Indian politician was made to go missing from the action and he was replaced by an organ of the state that is designed and trained to do exactly opposite. As we replaced the listener by the ruler, we ended up with what we have to now look at the Real Problem that needs solving.
We badly need our politicians back. If need be, we should be sending them to the states where migrant labour has returned and is unlikely to return till it may be too late for our economy to revive.
We need to win back the trust that is lost, and that job, I hope is not outsourced to those who have proven to be a complete failure in doing it. We need politicians as they understand that we have a democracy and people are required to be taken in confidence instead of turned into subjects of colonial rule using colonial acts.
If India will be saved, it will be again by the political leaders.
I hope that Indian politicians will also recognise this to be their role in coming days. So, instead of using this as an opportunity to divide and rule, they will go to the people and restore their faith in India.
This is even more important now as, instead of political outreach, we are opting to use force and draconian laws to bring people back to work. We may get some of them back because they would be hungry and scared of losing livelihood, but if we build a nation from such people, it will be a very sad nation.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.