Representational image: Luca Bravo on Unsplash.

Migrant Workers Woes Amid Tech Savviness and Perplexity of Equations

–Shams Khan

TNW, New Delhi, May 11: As National Technology Day is observed on May 11, we can proudly claim that the one thing in which Indian government is competing with most developed nations in fighting against COVID 19 pandemic, is use of technology.

Aarogya Setu, a smartphone application to track COVID 19 patients, drones to monitors and enforce lock down, facial recognition to police the people who are subjected to quarantine, thermal imagining and states’ COVID 19 dashboards are some of the digital responses that states and central governments have launched.

Many private online platforms also complimented the government in delivering essential goods to consumers. Indeed, in the time of such crisis, the digital platform proves to be a convenient tool for practicing social distancing.

Except, the benefit of digital services remains largely elusive for 65% of the country’s population who do not have internet access. Therefore, vast number of citizens are unable to access and avail schemes that (increasingly Hi Tech) governments have come up with.

For example, the online systems launched for the migrant labours have, instead of decreasing their misery, done the opposite. The stranded labours found themselves ill equipped in terms of technology and awareness, since most of them do not have either, smart phones or, the know-how to use the services.

However, for the equipped migrant workers too, the technology could not become a saviour. Many state governments’ websites launched for the purpose of helping them could not withstand the huge influx of visitors and crashed as soon as launched. Effectively, the website remained in the need of assistance themselves.

In the latest, Railways have announced that it will sell tickets only via it’s online platform as it’s gradually resuming passenger services from 12th May. On the first day of booking (May 11), a Bihari working in a leading telecom company in Bangalore, sharing his experience to TheNewsWeb said,”I tried for two long hours but couldn’t reach the IRCTC [the ticket booking site], then after 7.00 P.M it is showing that all the seats for next 5-6 days have been booked.”

The Unfolding perplexity of Equations

Before going ‘all tech’, Indian Railways had come up with a complicated formula of 85% centre and 15% state contribution for the migrant labour special train tickets. Most of us having the childhood traumatic relationship with Maths and its formula avoided to venture into subject. I initially thought it’s a fair distribution with states only paying partially for bringing back its residents.

But when it became clear to me that states are paying FULL fair to Railways, I started feeling anxious. It suddenly struck to me that I had already gone through similar BLANK feeling once in my life. On little deliberations, I could recall that it was during my Board examination when I was writing math paper. I could not recall the exact problem then, but, here before me, stares a complex equation:


Before I could decipher the Railways complicated explanation to it, reports flashed out that migrants are paying little more than the FULL ticket price. The equation that emerged in my mind turned out to be:

[100%-85%-15% <= 100%]

Then, to make the matter worse, Delhi and Bihar governments simultaneously claimed to have paid for trains tickets of migrant workers returning to Bihar. Considering both the governments’ claims true, the equation that now pop up in my mind was:

[100%-100%-100%- 85%= 100%]

Fearing, I would be overwhelmed by the growing complexity of equations, I quickly shrugged the idea of finding out how much the passengers of mentioned Bihar bound train paid and I assumed that they didn’t pay at all.

(* Percentages is calculated in terms of Full Ticket Fare and corresponding claim of payment made by different government bodies and passengers. I already acknowledged my lack of proficiency in mathematics, hence, any shortcoming in equations, if pointed out, would be corrected accordingly)

( Shams Khan is associated with Bihar Times, the views expressed are personal)

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