Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Herd of Migrants

I was returning from Raiganj to Kolkata last week. I saw once again the usual herd of migrants, having filled the Malda town railway station. There was no place to walk on the platforms, on the veranda outside, why, even on the road outside. All of them having filled the place, sleeping out there.... Waiting for the next train that will take them to Delhi...or Mumbai, or Chennai or Bengaluru. Their dream destination. They would work for weeks. Most of them go for the 50 days contract. According to the 50 days contract, the laborer gets 5,000 rupees for 50 days of work with simple food and accommodation in a crowded room or on the road side, or under a building. I call it a herd, because there is always some leader whom these people blindly follow.

On the East Canal Street that I take to go from Seva Kendra to Kolkata station there is a place where people keep thousands of sheep and goats that are ready for slaughter. (You can never miss the place as the stench emanating there just stops your breath.) Hundreds of them stand on left side of the road, and in the evenings they put them in small rooms on the right side of the road. They seem to have no problem in taking these sheep and goats each day from one side to another, although hundreds of them are replaced each day. How do they manage it?

Simple, they do not kill three sheep / goats. They are the team leaders. They walk ahead each day taking the entire herd back and forth, across the road... leading them to slaughter, and they themselves, do not get killed! This is what happens to rural India. Led to slaughter by the wickedness of a few.

Catholic Relief Services is doing a study on migration of people from the Sundarbans in the post-Cyclone Aila context. As the number of people who have migrated continues to increase, we find that from more than 60% of families people are migrating to other parts of India. Welcome to the new brand of India. Nomadic India!

1 comment:

Johannes said...

Hey Puthumai,
that is an interesting article!