The coronavirus outbreak is exposing once again India’s deep economic divide, and the government’s apathy towards migrant workers who power the country’s growth. Two days after the Aurangabad train accident in which atleast 16 migrants lost their lives, comedian Varun Grover on Sunday explained our deep apathy towards migrant workers.
Taking to Twitter, Varun Grover wrote: "This complete apathy towards the horrible tragedies & ordeals of the migrant workers and poor people stems from a much rooted, even celebrated mindset of urban India. That the poor deserve it because they are lazy/non-meritorious by choice."
In a series of tweets, Varun Grover said since childhood city kids are taught to chase academic idea of merit that completely ignores the multiple levels of privilege we are born into. "We not only take the access to food, electricity, water, love & care for granted - we are made to believe we have EARNED it. Of course we hear the rare stories of kids from severely under-privileged backgrounds making it big & that becomes a bigger stick to beat other underprivileged people with - if that person can do it, why didn't you?" he said.
He further says how people with lesser academic merit become lesser human beings - easy to talk down to, easier to punish or exploit.
"For probably the same reason, we don't resent the super-rich or dynastic politics or nepotism even after being fully aware of how a lot of their success is a function of their births. We grudgingly call it fate but internally believe they must have worked harder than us," he added.
While taking about jobs, the comedian said though governments have made reservations in education and jobs for such people, "but the system and the illusion of choice remain the same. And hence, the fog of apathy."
"The vicious cycle of poverty → lack of choice → poverty is ignored & the accident of birth mutates into a conscious choice of staying poor. The way out, like with most of the things, is awareness, compassion, & constant inquiry into systems that govern us. Hope we do it," Varun said.
Amid the nationwide lockdown, thousands of migrant workers stranded in several other cities have started their journey to return to their native places on foot. The interstate bus service, passenger, mail and express train services have been suspended since March 24.