I am sure by now on every whatsapp group you are part of, you would have received many forwards about how the migrants are being affected by the pandemic and how we should all collectively hang our heads in shame. I did and that set me thinking.
And I ask you why? Why the hurry to ascribe something that the state/government failed at to an individual shame? I mean, why should I feel ashamed?
Did I not pay taxes? Did I not pay salary to those whom I employed? Did I not donate to worthy causes? Did I cheat migrants? This is an easy way to deflect from the main problem that – as a state – as a country we do not have a system. Be it Delhi or Mumbai or any other city. We don’t have any social security net (it is taking shape now), we have no way of documentation (remember kagaz nahi dikhayenge).
The right response is a system to document migrants in each city. And identify those who are mooching off the system – illegals – throw them out. In the meantime using an identifier, ensure that when we announce and release benefits – it lands in the right bank accounts of those who deserve it and not their middlemen who live to take their undeserving cut (in this case atleast).
And when an NRC (A National Register of Citizens) was mentioned (of course, not a whimper when Congress wanted to bring this up years ago), a select set of people actually opposed it and want more undocumented refugees from Bangladesh and Burma to add to this mess. But say that and the left will be up in arms. Kagaz nahi dikhayenge. To bhugto.
Because the state has no way to estimate how many people are there in which place. No clue. And how do they expect to estimate this in the absence of any reliable data? For a one time, first time in many generations episode? It is just not possible. But if this should not repeat, we need credible data.
Therefore, the right response to all this is a National Register of Citizens that ensures that we know who is here (and where) with identifiers, bank accounts and details so that they can receive the benefits the government shares from time to time, pandemic or no pandemic.
But good luck with that.
So the next time you get one of those guilt tripping, laden with shame forwards ending very sweetly with “Please forward to many people and share this message”, send this instead. And watch…