Mangaluru: Webinar on 'Migrant Lives' by St Aloysius College, Ashakiran Jesuit Study House held

Media Release

Mangaluru, Oct 17: Ashakiran Jesuit Study House in collaboration with the department of Sociology of St Aloysius College (Autonomous), here, on October 17 organized a national webinar on the theme 'Migrant Lives Matter'. Fr Martin Puthuserry SJ, head of Labour and Migration Unit, Indian Social Institute, Bengaluru, was the speaker of the day. Fr. Martin has done and continues to do extensive study on migrant workers in India (with special concentration on the Northern and Eastern part of the country) and thus had an enormous amount of information and his personal experiences to share.

The webinar began with a soulful prayer by the Jesuit Brothers followed by a warm welcome to the speaker and the participants by Fr Alphonse Fernandes SJ, superior, Ashakiran. The opening remarks of the webinar were made by Fr Dr Praveen Martis SJ, principal of St Aloysius College (Autonomous), here. A very thought-provoking message was made by the principal wherein he spoke about the woes of the migrants who have always been there and were heightened during the lockdown during COVID-19 and how St Aloysius College came forward in performing their social responsibility in these trying times.

The speaker, Fr Martin opened his talk stating, “Migrant woes ‘greatest manmade tragedy’ in India since partition, is one of the most highlighted quotes in recent times by the famous historian Ramachandra Guha." He presented a completely new perspective to the migrant situation by comparing their plight with two historical events: firstly with the disturbing images of mass migration during the partition of India in 1947 and secondly, the exodus experiences of the people of Israel from the slavery in Egypt (Biblical reference).

He went on to stress that in contemporary India decades of rural distress have led to forced migration among the landless agricultural labourers and marginal farmers. However, he pointed towards the fact that urban India did not really care for these migrant labourers till the COVID 19 lockdown was announced and the services of these migrants were not available. And to add to it there was a complete failure and lack of preparedness by the government during that time. However, despite the struggle and hardships, these migrant labourers preferred taking all kinds of risks and trouble to get back to their villages and hometowns. This was basically their means of survival as their workplace was no longer available and the only way they could survive was getting back to their homes where somehow they could manage to live.

Amidst all this was a ray of hope because when the government failed, the common man played a major role for these poor and helpless migrant labourers. Various NGOs, Civil Society, Educational Institutions, students etc came forward to help.

Fr Martin had four suggestions to give in order to improve the erstwhile troubled situation of these migrant workers: accepting them as fellow citizens; protection of their rights; including them in unorganised workers’ social security boards; and providing them with basic services and entitlements. The talk concluded with a reference to the Constitution of India [Art.19] (1) (d) and (e) which states, 'All citizens shall have the right ... to move freely throughout the territory of India; to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India'. However, this is possible only when everyone ensures that migrants get justice and only then will they be ever able to lead a dignified human life throughout the country.

The last part of the webinar, an interactive session, was moderated by Joan Rita O’Brien, HoD of the department of Sociology at St Aloysius College (Autonomous), Mangaluru. The speaker took questions from the participants across the country and answered each of them with his expertise and experience over the years and ended on a very positive and optimistic note that Indians must have the never give up spirit and that is what has kept us all going during the difficult times of COVID 19.

The webinar was moderated by Brother Dapulu Dukru and the vote of thanks was delivered by Brother Joseph Maxwell Jeevakan.


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Title : Mangaluru: Webinar on 'Migrant Lives' by St Aloysius College, Ashakiran Jesuit Study House held


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