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Guest AuthorRavi Santhanam
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What do Migrant Workers need, Sympathy or Empathy?

By | Ravi Santhanam | Executive Coach – Leaders & Teams

Background:

Everyday we learn of yet another heart wrenching incidence relating to Migrant Workers their Families and their struggles. While this is undoubtedly a humanitarian issue, is that the only lens through which we should be viewing it? Shouldn’t we also be viewing it from the lens of our national as well as our own self interest as well? Let me explain.

Migrant Workers are and will be, for decades to come, one of the pillars of our economic system; be it Services, Industry or Agriculture. I use the terms “Migrant Workers” in this article to refer to both intra-state and inter-state migrants, who work for daily wages, often received thru’ an intermediary and are not part of the “Organised Labour”, protected by existing laws.

Without Migrant Workers, our capital assets and organised labour would be under utilised. Without Migrant Workers, our material will not move; be it within a plant or between plants or across geographies. Without Migrant Labor, our Roads, Hospitals, Universities, Malls, Parks and other Public Utilities will not get built. Without Migrant Workers, sowing, picking and harvesting there will be no food on our dining tables. 

Their significance is not limited to the breadth of their contribution. It is also influenced by the enormous scale of their contribution. My impression / guess estimate is our economy is dependent on 1 or may be even 3 Migrant Workers (inter-state and intra-state combined) for each member of organised labour. If the strength of our Organised Labour force is say 30 Million, the strength of our Migrant Workers would well be of the order of 30 to 90 million, inter-state and intra-state combined. Just the fact that we do not have a ready and reliable data, on such an important and significant economic resource, says its own story.

Clearly Migrant Workers are a vital cog in our economic engine. Without them there will be no demographic dividend or sustained high growth. Therefore, it is in the national as well as our own self interest, that every one of us work to catalyse thinking and action on the problems faced by Migrant Workers.

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