Documenting Migrant Workers from West Bengal

Arup Kumar Sen

The national lockdown announced by the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, on March 24, 2020, has adversely affected diverse sections of the population in India, and has become a disaster for workers, particularly migrant workers and daily-wage earners.

We do not have reliable estimates of migrant workers from West Bengal, who are working in other states.

Very recently, Nagarik Mancha, an organisation championing workers’ rights and documenting plight of workers for several decades, has documented the specific professional identities of migrant workers from West Bengal, working in other states, and estimated their total numbers and community identities. (Nagarik Mancha Newsletter- 1, May 25, 2020)

To put it in the words of the Newsletter:

“Many skilled workers have migrated from Bengal to other States for whose skills there is great recognition. Carpenters have spread out in many parts of the country; a large number of goldsmiths and silversmiths are located in Gujarat; large number of jari workers from Panchla, Howrah work in Delhi; construction workers find work in Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Kerala and Karnataka; female domestic workers are also spread out; power sector in Uttar Pradesh employ many from Bengal; 14000 workers from Bengal work at Bengaluru for segregating waste; rajmistri from Murshidabad and Malda are in great demand all over the country at construction sites; there are 3000 workers stuck in Kashmir; there are six lakhs from Bengal who work in Kerala alone; in all there are 50 lakh workers from this State who migrate to other parts of the country; almost 60-70 % of these workers are from the minority community who come back to the state during Ramjan every year”.

The documentation by Nagarik Mancha gives us a broad idea of different categories of invisible migrant workers from West Bengal.

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Jun 16, 2020

Arup Kumar Sen

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