The publication will be released on 22 January 2021 by senior journalist Shri Sudeep Thakur, Resident Editor of Amar Ujala; senior journalist, Shri Ashutosh, Founder, Satya Hindi, and Prof. V.K. Damodaran,President of VMFT. The experience of migrant labour returning to the Eastern Indian states of Bihar and Jharkhand will be shared by senior journalist and author, Shri Santosh K. Singh, Indian Express, Patna, Professor Harishwar Dayal, Director-In-Chief, Center for Fiscal Studies, Government of Jharkhand, and Shri Mukesh Balyogi, Hindustan, Ranchi.
Entitled Avaaz, Pehchaan aur Atma Samaan: Pravasi Shramik, Unka Bhavishya, Unka Adhikaar – Ek Rooprekha, the publication documents the experience of inter-state migrant workers in Kerala and other states of India during the COVID-19 lockdown. It summarizes the discussion of a high level virtual Roundtable organized by the Vakkom Moulavi Foundation Trust (VMFT), which brought together policy makers from different states, academics, media personalities and NGOs. The Roundtable also identified the lessons to be drawn from the comparative performance of different states and the actions that need to be taken in the future. The Malayalam version of the report was released by Shri T.P. Ramakrishnan, Minister of Labour and Excise in the Government of Kerala in his office on 23 December 2020.
Kerala’s positive experience in handling the migrant crisis at the height of the national lockdown is borne out by several studies. The main lesson from Kerala’s experience is that concrete actions by the state and local governments and by society, to provide food, health services, shelter and transport could protect the most vulnerable sections of society and respect their dignity as individual citizens.
The release event will bring together leading journalists and NGOs who are working in different parts of India on the issues related to migrant workers, who together with their families number in the hundreds of millions of people. Despite gaining some media publicity at the height of the crisis, the issues relating to migrant workers are not adequately and consistently discussed in the media or the public policy space. The purpose of the event is also to identify what resources and further information is required by these stakeholders to give voice and visibility to the affected migrant workers.