Dr BR Ambedkar in his final speech to the constituent assembly said that “India was going to enter into a life of contradictions. In politics, we will have equality. Whereas, in social and economical life we will have inequality. In politics, we will be recognizing the principle of one man, one vote, and one value. In Social and Economical life, we shall, by reason of our social & economic structure, continue to deny the principle of one man one vote and one value.”
Somehow, we can see the inequalities based on both social and economic structures these days. Through this article we will be discussing how the poor are being considered as the smallest unit of the society by the Govt. be it State or Central. Thus, proving the quote by Ambedkar to be true. We can see that how the people who are economically unstable or weak are treated as liabilities by the government. We can clearly deliberate the difference and discrimination taking place. Thereby, making it easy to say that the division between the rich and poor still persists.
An economic gap during COVID-19
There are numerous instances that can justify the above-given situation, but we will be discussing it in the light of current incidence that is going on “COVID-19”. The coronavirus whose epicentre is considered to be WUHAN is said to be one of the deadliest viruses ever discovered in centuries. This virus is not only spreading at a rapid rate but is affecting millions of lives and has stopped the world where it was a few months back. it has ended millions of lives, introduced a global recession, made a lot of people homeless.
Global hunger is another biggest issue which came since the Pandemic has started. It’s a matter of privilege for the rich and the middle-class people that they have their savings along with them to survive months or years without working or searching for jobs. Many of the companies are too generous that they are giving their employees’ salaries so that the staff won`t face any sort of problems during this situation. People are at their home, spending time with their family members.
But the question here arises “is everyone home?” “Does Everyone have sufficient savings to survive?” “Is everything going right?”
Opinion on the essence of equality
As I remember from the diminishing memory of my childhood, I remember that whenever the word constitution was tossed up in front of people it was said that “it is for everyone”. For everyone, the Preamble on the first page of the constitution highlights the first few words “WE THE PEOPLE OF INDIA” and we the people include each and every citizen of India irrespective of gender, caste, colour, religion, rich or poor. Theoretically, what I have learned was right but practically the constitution is different i.e. changes from person to person. The term Equality does mean “Absence of special privileges to any section of society and provision to adequate opportunities for all without any discrimination.”
If we focus on recent incidents in near past we saw that the people who were evacuated from foreign to India because of this pandemic crisis were provided with special flights, some for free of cost some for a little penny from their pockets, which was a much appreciable step taken by the govt. for our country mates.
On the contrary, the people who are not economically strong or the class whom we refer as POOR were left abandoned on the road that too without any support or anything, they were only getting media coverages and few people who helped by clicking pictures while providing them with daily needs for next 1 or 2 days. The ones who designed, constructed, put their blood and sweat efforts in making skyscrapers and big mansions. Now they don’t have the shadow of the big buildings protecting them, all the gates were shut for them. People were crying, they were begging to govt. for help and they received ill-treatment.
For instance, we can take the example of the time when Migrant workers were sprayed with Disinfectant on-road. The people there in-charge there, made them sit on the roads like some strays. As per I remember, I recall that taking care of each and every citizen of this country is “GOVERNMENTS DUTY AND NOT CHARITY”. This is the major thing to understand that everyone is equal and everyone has their personal rights to enjoy.
We have to make it visible in our strong voices that it is the responsibility of the government. Not to point to any of the political parties through this article, but I surely want to raise a point of Nirmal Sitaraman Ji (as one can only blame the party in power and not those who are in opposition). The Finance Minister was so heartless that she did not even mention the migrant workers in her first press conference. She did mention some pittance for them in the second. But, she did not condole their deaths in road accidents, on a train track, or out of sheer exhaustion after reaching their destination.
In another conference, a reporter raised a question about some lower-middle and middle-class people’s economic conditions. The reply she gave was “THEEK HAI”. All these instances depict how everyone is playing with words and numbers instead of not getting on the actual ground. The 20 lakh crores package still has kept many people in the delusion of happy days. This tragedy has been unfolding over the last many months and what started as a trickle has become a flood.
The aftermath of the situation
A working paper by researchers from the University of Chicago and the University of British Columbia, covered 1,392 individuals in Delhi, in slums and unauthorized colonies. They found 9 out of 10 people reporting that their weekly incomes had fallen to zero. Meanwhile, we can see in our day to day lives too how the lower and middle economic class are suffering.
The companies are evicting their staffs or underpaying them. As a result, the poor are not even getting day to day livelihoods. Some of them are getting but on the cost of their health and life. We can also see a rapid price hike in prices in the market. This is making it nearly impossible for people to live. We have seen the daily rising curve of petrol and diesel prices for consecutive 20-25 days. And, other day-to-day life material too. The rush of reaching homes and bad executions either by the state or central govt has taken too many lives in between this pandemic. And hunger has led many people to commit suicide.
In legal terms, we can completely call it Murder and abetment to commit suicide. The government had all the machinery to make it easy and smooth. They could have managed the situation easily. Seeing the humanitarian crisis unfold before its eyes, the Karnataka government then organized Shramik special trains to take the workers home. Many leaders and Stars came down on the real ground to help the migrants to reach their homes. However, a lot of their steps were politicized by different other political parties.
The ones who suffered and were squeezed in between them were the migrant labourers. The rest of the leaders who criticized or played politics related to these matters stayed at their homes. In many interviews, Raghu Ram Rajan and many great economists too informed that it was not a big task for the government to manage these situations. Since we have pretty good GDP, helping the migrant workers reach their destinations will cost very less.
Problems in governance
But at that time many of the state governments were busy transforming and suspending the labour laws. In other words, taking the actual rights, and indirectly allowing the companies to harass and violate labourer’s rights. Just because the person is from some weak economic background, his/her life is not considered enough to be known as a human in the eyes of the government? During the lockdown, apartments and residential townships did not allow domestic workers into their premises. Many families chose not to pay their domestic workers their monthly salaries. Now, with no signs of the pandemic abating, they have kept their gates open. However, the Migrants are at their respective homes. As a result, people are now begging for household help (Said by the CEO of domestic help provider application).
A chance to Rethink India
Yes, it`s completely true that this pandemic has given India an opportunity to come out as one of the major economies, one of the major powers. The government needs to focus more on how to utilize this opportunity. Instead of playing dirty politics in the name of the poor, they should be constructive. And, should think about how to make them live their life with dignity. The Government needs to make them believe that they matter. Further steps should be taken properly by:
- Providing job opportunities.
- Investing in major Health and Educational sectors.
- And if “Vocal for Local” really means something for the policymakers, then some plans really to stick on it to make India rise to the top.
It is not too late. It is the time to make people realize the power of democracy to “WE THE PEOPLE”. Whenever they will realize that they are the ones who chose the leaders to draft laws and policies for them, that will be the day our constitution will get its right essence. The essence of “OF the people, FOR the people, BY the people”
Author: Aman Kumar Singh