India’s treatment of its migrant population has been a disgrace. We must redeem ourselves by admitting our failures and devising policy approaches that are sensitive, humane and respectful of individual freedom and dignity.
Much of the blame on this issue that was directed at the Narendra Modi government immediately after the lockdown was unfair. The nationwide lockdown had to be imposed quickly and not every scenario could have been catered for. Sure, the government’s antennae failed to pick up the risk that millions of migrants would make a beeline for their homes. But as far as one can tell, few outside experts, activists or mediapersons had flagged it as an important factor ahead of the lockdown. So the Union and state governments had to react to the unfolding human tragedy, which they did to the level their administrative capacities allowed.