Class Bias in State Support post-Corona?

Bhaskar Majumder

Class bias is nothing new in literature on social sciences – what become new is its new Avatar. The bias is there in the system that evolved or that the privileged took care to get crystallized. Once the bias works as termite in the system, the system starts revealing its consequences by social separation of people that are not necessarily understood by the less privileged.   

One honourable CM of my neighbour-friend state seriously criticized a few days back the concept of sending 200 buses to bring back students of UP-origin locked-in Kota – students who had been aspirant for admission into institutions of medical and engineering studies in the main. Who does not know the name and fame of Kota that produces students competent for such admissions? I do not know the number of students admitted in such coaching institutions and the success rate – the latter in the sense of number and percentage of coaching-captivated students’ admission into the premier institutions of learning that probably make the future of these students safe and bright. I am safely distanced from Kota or any such coaching institutions since my engagement in teaching-research since more than past four decades.

But it is not my personal problem. It has become a state issue or issue that involves two states in the federal structure – one where I stay-work, the other where I stayed-worked for a brief period. It also involves the whole of the policy of the Government of India where I also stand on the axis of execution of policies. If media report is to be believed, sending of buses as planned for the purpose is against the whole “concept” of getting rid of Corona-effect, as argued or opined by the CM of my neighbouring state. The response of the state to the critique I am in at present is not known so far.

There came a ‘’Dharmosankat’’ (crisis of justice), however. If 200 buses could be sent by one CM, then why not 500 buses to bring back the migrant workers from Delhi/Mumbai? At this point of crises, I do not dare to question any political authority for it is they who are to suffer from errors of omission or commission, if the authority will send civil planes or military jet to bring back ‘’more equal’’ resident people of India Corona-confined abroad  – for pygmies like me are home-locked to obey the national mandate.

One or two questions, however, came to my mind (not brain, for it has virtually stopped functioning being home-locked for a period I never had been in my life of more than six decades so far). One, does it imply class bias? Two, is it political war? To answer the second question first, I don’t think so, for both the states are similar in “bhai chaara’’ (fraternity), and both send enough migrant workers each year to Mumbai-Delhi-Punjab, and also both are on the same political boat. By implication, if the boat sinks, then both drown. So the Heartland (BUP: Bihar-Uttar Pradesh) will not go long to see the boat sinking. What remains? Question number one. My opinion (not argument) is, class is yet to take shape in the Marxian sense – only labour as a category is not enough to understand this. If class formation is not complete, then how come I talk about class bias? My response is, yes, it showed class bias by visible and invisible categories like the income brackets of the families the coaching-tied students of Kota came from, the political connections and the derivative pressures on the society by media attention and all that.

One residue question comes to my mind that the readers may take lightly: Was the honourable CM of the adjoining state that takes pride in making labour market cheap serious really? Yes and No. Yes, for legitimization of his incompetence to bring back the nation-builders – the migrant workers to their home. At this moment, most of these migrant workers are visible on road – they were forced to leave ‘’roti-roji’’ and they were desperately willing to come back home – ‘ghar jana hai’. These migrant workers were not willing to disappear in nowhere land or die unnoticed.  No, for he might not be serious at all to bring back the expendable migrant workers. It is to be remembered that there is inter-state lock down also as announced by the competent authority. No private transport operator is authorized to carry the migrant workers back home – only the state as the competent authority could. It reflected a state that betrayed its own people, it seems.         

Bhaskar Majumder, Professor of Economics, G. B. Pant Social Science Institute, Allahabad - 211019

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Apr 21, 2020

Prof. Bhaskar Majumder

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