Covid-19 DEFDialogue, is a special series initiated by Digital Empowerment Foundation on Covid-19 where we connect with key individuals within our network in 600 locations across 25 states to find out how Covid-19 and the lockdown situation has impacted their area and the measures they are undertaking to tackle it. We will also be interacting with industry experts to gauge the situation and measures that can be undertaken.
Osama Manzar, Founder and Director, Digital Empowerment Foundation, spoke with—Sharada Kerkar from Goa. An artist, thinker and an activist, and a curator at India’s first private museum in Goa- Museum of Goa.
“According to my observation, the migrant workers are the worst affected in Goa, especially in Saligao. In Goa, thousands of labourers who are daily wagers, are stranded and struggling to make their ends meet.
Despite government’s initiatives to convert stadiums into shelter homes, provide cooked meals to the migrant labourers—it has been challenging because many labourers are not readily willing to move into shelter homes—because they are not centrally located.
4-5 people are constantly working on identifying pockets and mapping the areas to find the migrant labourers through their network. Till now around 17-18 such pockets have been identified.
It is important to identify the number of stomachs which have to be fed. We have to provide them with groceries and essential items.
The government is in a mix of politics and it has been pretty ignorant about the migrants as they are non-voters. This explains the politician’s lack of attention towards these migrant workers. I strongly believe that the government is not incapable—it is just apathy.
It is definitely a sad scene. The migrant workers who build houses, do fishing—are disrespected when they need support the most. These workers insist and reiterate their need to go back and are hopeful that the government will make some arrangements.
The migrant labourers like in other parts of the country are facing discrimination and are not very hopeful of the government supporting them. Due to the lack of respect and attention paid to them in this time of crisis, there’s a good chance that they will not return. This could invariably impact tourism and will make people go back to mining or agricultural activities to keep up the economy of the state.”