Around 40 million migrant daily-waged workers have been hit hard by the lockdown imposed in the wake of COVID-19. Rebuilding Lives is an action-oriented campaign by American India Foundation (AIF) in partnership with NDTV to rebuild the lives of migrant communities. The need of the hour is for immediate relief to serve urgent needs, equal attention is required towards a sustainable and resilient rebuilding of lives through a multi-pronged response, addressing health, education and livelihoods.
Here are the highlights of the #RebuildingLives Telethon:
Nishant Pandey: For the first time, the scale and the challenge of migrant population has become visible
Sidharth Nath Singh, Minister for Khadi & Textiles Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), UP Government on steps the government is taking for helping migrants:
The government has made a committee to make a plan to create jobs. We have already done the mapping of about 35 lakh migrants who have come back. We have an MoU with organizations like FICCI. We are bridging the gap for skilled workers. Similarly, we are also creating opportunities in MGNREGA.
We realised that the magnitude is larger, we felt the need of a migrant commission who is now in place. This has been scaled up further, we have brought in the agriculture ministry, animal husbandry ministry, silk sector has been brought in. We have been working at the micro level.
Ashwath Narayana, Deputy Chief Minister Karnataka on #RebuildingLives telethon:
Arbind Singh National Co-ordinator National Association of Street Vendors of India:
The biggest challenge for the migrants is economic security and access to livelihood. There is a need to build awareness and capacities like promoting digital payments so that they are not in direct contact with notes. These efforts will ensure their safety during the pandemic.
Around 40 per cent of migrants have gone back and 60 per cent are still there. It is now up to the cities and how they gain the trust of those people. There should vending zones and vendors should have certificates. Vendors can sell their things and maintain social distancing hygiene.
Manoj Balachandran Head - CSR, IBM India & South Asia on the Telethon
Ashish Dhawan, Chairman, Board of Trustees, Ashoka University on the digital divide and its impact on children's education
Clearly, for not just the migrants, but for the low-income families in general, the digital divide is high which is impacting the learning further. The state government are now responding to it, not just by app but also with TV, radio and also sending them physical material.
Pravin Goel Managing Director and Country Head, BlackRock contributes Rs 3.8 crore during the telethon
KK Shailaja, Minister for Health and Social Welfare, Kerala on the #RebuildingLives Telethon:
Anil Swarup, Former School Education & Literacy Secretary to Government of India
It's a very tricky situation, unprecedented but it can be tackled, it is being tackled in some of the states. We had to segment these set of children into two parts; the first is of children that have access to internet and smartphones, the strategy for them will be different from the children who do not have access to smartphone or internet.
The difficult part with such children as do not have access to internet and smartphones. It is there that we had organised a workshop about 15 days ago to evolve methods through which we reach out to them. The penetration of internet is not so good but I think the penetration of radio, through television is pretty good. And it is through radio and television that a number of states are attempting to reach out to these children. There are other ways also that are being worked out to reach out to children. Of course as I said they can't replace the teacher but this is the alternative that is available.
Dr Amitabh Kundu, Distinguished Fellow, Research & Information System for Developing Countries on the Telethon:
Shantha Sinha, Anti-child labour activist , Ramon Magsaysay Awardee and Former Chairperson, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR):
Jyoti who cycled 1200km with her father on the telethon:
Harit Talwar, Co-Chair, American India Foundation and his wife Reena express their solidarity to the cause of the migrants
Junaid Ahmad, Country Director, India, World Bank:
Role of urban migrants in India is extremely important. India is very close to rewriting the urban social protection system. Social protection system which is portable is essential for the future of urban India.
Eric Falt, Director and UNESCO Representative for the UNESCO New Delhi Cluster Office covering Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, the Maldives and Sri Lanka:
During this period of sudden and unprecedented interruption of education, there are many challenges now. In order to develop unified responses, we are assuring the on-ground needs are matched.With special focus on the female learners. Migrant workers need to be provided with access to credit, access to new market, local government can play an important role by providing training to migrants and WASH facilities.
Dr Abhay Bang, Activist and researcher in community health and Padma Shri Awardee:
In the district that I work in, about 40,000 migrants from various parts of India have come back. Should we really call them migrants? They are twice displaced person - first they left their village and then they left their place of work. These displaced persons are also twice untouchables.
They have two kinds of health needs: First- shelter, food, hygiene and second they are in deep psychological trauma. They need security, they are not being welcomed in their own village. So the need of acceptance is their important need.
They also need economic sustainability.
Mathew Joseph, India Country Director, American India Foundation:
We responded to government's requests from 16 states. We have provided medical equipment in hospitals in these states. We have responded to health and protective need of migrants workers. We have provided them with hygiene kits. Our volunteers are going door to door to raise awareness.
We have been working in some state on a programme for maternal health. We have been able to reduce newborn mortality in those areas. We have trained ASHA workers on technology and dos and don'ts when they go on the field. We have also provided them masks.
Anand Ramamoorthy Managing Director, Micron India pledges a sum of Rs. 93,75,000 should be focused on challenges specific to the migrant, migration issues
Micron has had a long and a rich tradition working with the communities in the countries where we operate. Being a global company, we've had significant footprint in Asia, China. So, we had early access to pandemic in terms of early signs of the pandemic. This gave us a chance to plan and prepare better and as a result, very early on almost three months back, Micron globally announced a fund of Rs. 2,625 million that was focused on addressing almost all aspects of this pandemic.
India was a significant beneficiary in the strategic site of Micron. Significant beneficiaries have been working tirelessly for the last couple of months, especially in the areas of food, in the areas of healthcare, areas of education and skilling. We have been largely operating in the state of Telangana where we are headquartered. We've also done some good work in the states of Andhra and Karnataka. And, we feel very obligated to help the migrant challenges that have come up more recently. A lot of IT infrastructures that we are all so proud of, has been built by these faceless, nameless migrant laborers. Now, it's the time for us as a community as responsible multinationals to walk the talk and do whatever we can.
Manu Shah, CEO, MS International on the telethon:
A lot has to be done by India to educate and train workers, especially in rural areas and small towns. Over the years I have noticed that there has been a big shift and desire in India for white collared jobs, which means India is doing well. However, India's per capita income cannot increase unless the central and local governments, industries and skill organizations work together to improve education and training for blue-collared work. We believe that over 500 million people can be uplifted, meaningful changes can be made, and other countries can be given competition if India can become both a blue-collared and white-collared powerhouse in the world.
Melissa Fleming, Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications, UN:
We are concerned about all people on the move. They are not able to access health care when they are moving. There is also a concern because these are the most vulnerable people. The people and their society who were performing the important service like building the road or working in grocery stores, they were more invisible before. It is extremely important that we go forward. The important thing coming from this pandemic is that inequality is more visible.
People need to have access to healthcare. The plight of the people on the fringes of our society is exposed due to the pandemic. It is not sustainable that people live hand to mouth every day.
Nirupama Rao, Former Foreign Secretary and India's Ambassador to USA:
Democracy such as our is built on people to people component. There is a need to help these millions of people who have been displaced. They are in search of refuge and security; this has moved each one of us.
Lata Krishnan, Co-Founder and Co-chair, American India Foundation donates Rs. 37.5 Lakh during the telethon:
You know the migrants of which there are many millions in India are some of the most deprived communities in India. They live a hard life. Their lives are uncertain and usually getting out of this plight is practically impossible. So, we just feel it very strongly that we need to educate their children, empower their livelihoods so that they too can prosper and get to a better place for their children. Isn't that what we all want, a better world for our children?
I would like to salute all the individuals and co-operations who have gone out of their way to help the plight of the migrants this past many weeks. It has been devastating for many of us to see and watch the news everyday of lives being destroyed, children not attending schools, people walking from their cities to their villages, not having food to eat. I mean it is devastating and I think that we as a community need to rise and support the underprivileged.
I urge each and everyone of you that is watching today to think about the power of engagement. To be engaged, to participate in the solution.
Chinmay Tumbe, Assistant Professor, IIM Ahmedabad and Author, India Moving - A History Of Migration:
These migrations have going for more than a century. Even in the past pandemic, there were similar episodes. Migrants need financial security in city and social security in villages. COVID-19 is a unique case in terms of scale.
Gary Norcross, Chairman, President & CEO, FIS
Well first, we are just really proud to be associated with the American India Foundation in NDTV's initiative regarding rebuilding lives. You know, India is such an important place for FIS. And as we look at the global pandemic of COVID-19, it's really our duty at FIS, we feel, to give back to the communities that we operate in and service our great company every day. So, we just thrilled to be a part of this great initiative and really making a difference in India.
So, as we think about people around the globe, it's finally important because at FIS, we drive the critical infrastructure of financial services. So, we are very focused on the way the world pays, banks and invests. And then for us, companies like ours is working hand in hand with local authorities being able to invest in communities and help impact this serious pandemic is very important for us.
We want to be able to get people back to work. We want to be able to get the economies back open and moving and so it's been very important for us. The focus is not only on our people internally but the communities in which we worked in, which is why today I'm very proud to be a part of this fund raising.
Watch what Taapsee Pannu said on the issue of migrants on the Telethon
Kiran Mazumdar, Chairperson, Biocon:
I think, corporate India would want to do whatever best is possible for migrant workers. And the biggest service to do for them is to engage them and provide them with a livelihood. Maybe by creating jobs in rural India or in urban India. The economy has to get back into normalcy. If we can focus on test, trace and quarantine and keep the environment safe, it will be easier to get the economy back.
I don't think we can get a safe vaccine at least for a year. We don't want a vaccine which can get us infected soon. I think we should focus on sorting out the treatment so that the mortality rate can be kept under check The approach should be to test people so that there is an immunity pass scenario. If there are immunity passes, there is a need to conduct more tests.
Diseases should be seen in stages, in the initial stages Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) can work but not in the stages where you need oxygen, then biologics can be used for treatment. If there is a need for ventilator, then a combination of biologics and plasma therapy can be used.
Pratap Jena Minister, Panchayati Raj & Drinking Water, Law, Housing & Urban Development, Government of Odisha:
I'm pleased to acknowledge the efforts of American India Foundation in supporting the government's effort of taking care of migrants and needy families in the COVID pandemic situation. I thank American India Foundation for their support to 3,000 migrant families with ration and hygienic kit which is the immediate need.
We have planned so many programs to rehabilitate them, those who are coming out of Odisha. We are going to plan, we are going to train them like mason training and different types of training. After that training, we are going to engage them in the different activities in the building work and the different types of work. And same time, through MNREGA program, which is the flagship program of the Government of Odisha and in that program also we are involving migrant labors to participate in the different types of work in the villages
Taapsee Pannu, Actress on being part of the animation video highlighting the migration crisis during the lockdown:
It was very emotional for me. I got this opportunity by a director who wanted someone who feels the same way to do this video. I think, we probably did not try much. We did but not enough. That's why these visuals were there. It can be me as well. I am also a migrant. I left my home and went to Mumbai. But I am one of the lucky ones but it was very very disheartening to see those videos. I voiced it in a way I felt and I am glad that people also were able to relate with it.
I just hope that the migrant workers are not too disheartened or hopeless that they don't want to come back. The least we can do is to reach out to them and ask them if they need something.
The entire world is going through the pandemic but our country is going through a major humanitarian crisis along with the pandemic. Let's try to repair the damage.
Nishant Pandey, CEO, American India Foundation on the telethon:
AIF has served over 7 million people. Our team is working on COVID relief has reached out to 3 lakh people They are still serving ration to the people in need.
Children rarely get a second chance in life if they miss proper nutrition and proper education in the initial years.
As millions of people go back to their native village, it is putting a lot of pressure on already week public health infrastructure
The telethon starts off with a moving video narrated by actor Taapsee Pannu
Join us for a special 2-hour #RebuildingLives Telethon for migrant workers
To contribute for the cause of rehabilitating migrant workers, click here
American India Foundation (AIF) has now joined hands with NDTV to raise awareness and resources to complement the government’s efforts to rehabilitate migrant families
To donate for the cause of migrant workers, click here
While the need of the hour is for immediate relief to serve urgent needs, equal attention is required towards a sustainable and resilient rebuilding of lives through a multi-pronged response, addressing health, education and livelihoods needs - both in the source and destination areas of migration. As they reach home enduring unprecedented ordeals, they face the risk of hunger, indebtedness and prolonged unemployment. Around 40 million migrant daily-waged workers have been hit hard by COVID-19 induced economic distress, lockdowns, travel bans and social distancing requirements.