The meaning, definition, and essence of What is meant to be a human are going through artificial and arbitrarily ‘hyperfiltration’ process in ‘New India’. Muslims, Dalits, Adivasis, migrant workers, and now labourers are victims of this process.
With the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 and the call for the implementation of NRC, it was quite clear that the emerging discourse regarding Muslims will be that they do not deserve to be treated as equals. The BJP politician Subramanian Swamy mentioned this in an interview by Yeung’s, asking whether Muslims deserved equal rights in the context of Article 14, Swamy explained. “There’s no such thing as equal rights… they are not in an equal category,”.
From Amit Shah who called Muslim migrants “termites” to various BJP politicians calling Muslims with different bigoted labels and killings of Muslims in the recent Delhi pogrom pictures this emerging discourse. And the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic has made this discourse stronger as Muslims all over India are being targeted because of the stories manufactured by the lap media regarding the origin and spread of Covid-19.
The nature of hatred directed against Muslims is changing frequently because the obsession with Muslims needs nothing but any new opportunity real or imaginary to demonize the Muslims. Activists of anti CAA are being targeted by UAPA, an Act which seems to target a particular community and a set of people.
The lynching of Dalits and Muslims are not new phenomena but it has certainly increased manifold in recent years. Law and order have always been used in a biased manner against Muslims, Dalits, and Adivasis but the intensity and frequency of high handedness of public officials towards them is an indisputable reality of New India. Impunity is a new normal in the cases of violence against them.
The call for Swatch Bharat- Swashth Bharat is fundamentally flawed because without ending manual scavenging and providing them alternative means and avenues, recognition of them as a human being with all forms of needs-economic, psychological, spiritual, mental and community affiliation, the achievements of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan will be as a mirage and delusional to human understanding.
As COVID-19 pandemic unfolded, the unplanned lockdown has made the life of migrant workers ‘lifeless’ and horrific visuals of their haplessness and high handedness by police officials in handling their exodus and hunger, teary, tired, broken state of an army of ‘cheap labour’ travelling 100s of miles by foot, is haunting human psyche and will continue to haunt. The peak of “human tragedy” is reached when 16 migrant workers were killed by a running train when they were asleep with loaves of bread and few pennies tightly grasped by their hands.
When 93 percent of the workforce is still in the informal sector with no sense of security, now 7 percent of the formal workforce too is mandated by various states to work 12 hours a day without any compensation or incentives by passing ordinances or executive orders contravening ILO regulations and bypassing legislation in states like M.P, U.P and Gujarat is a travesty of human justice.
It is forced labour exploiting their insecurities and compulsions. It Is nothing but a bonded slavery of a new form considering labourers only as an economic value which depends on the dynamics of demand and supply or commodities to use for services. Labourers are considered merely as a means, not as humans denying them dignity, choice, respect, and value.
The notion that redistribution of economic resources is the single most important factor in making the lives of millions of underprivileged, disabled, oppressed, poor, and destitute a meaningful, liveable, and cherishable life is wishful and privileged thinking. So the question of dignity, identity, and community relationships of individuals or can say “recognition” aspects of emancipation must be taken into account while formulating policies for their empowerment and emancipation. And verily empowerment of masses is what genuine democracy stands for.
Without considering the recognition aspect, policies will neither result in the upliftment of them economically nor will spirituality, socially, and psychologically. But it will certainly lead to persistent and pervasive inequalities of various kinds. So we must globalize compassion which is built on the principles of justice and accountability and as an Individual, it is our moral responsibility to help underprivileged without waiting for them to ask for help. As a classical prose writer, Kahlil Gibran writes in The Prophet
“It is well to give when asked, but it is better to give unasked, through understanding; And to the open-handed, the search for one who shall receive is joy greater than giving.”
Faisal Rizwan is a student at Delhi University.