The Weeping Migrant, the Face of the Lockdown is Still Jobless. Is There Hope For the Faceless?

Social Commentary

The Weeping Migrant, the Face of the Lockdown is Still Jobless. Is There Hope For the Faceless?

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

In about a week’s time, on November 10, the results of Bihar’s elections will be declared. And while politicians from both the ruling coalition and the state opposition have made many promises to voters about providing jobs and employment, those who most need work are still struggling to find it. A report published in The Print found that Rampukar Pandit, the Bihari migrant worker whose photograph became a portrait of the humanitarian crisis that India’s lockdown was for migrants, has still not been able to find a job, despite the assurances he had received from politicians at a time when he was being covered in the national media.

In May, a PTI photographer clicked a photo of a weeping Pandit as he sat by the side on Delhi’s Nizamuddin Bridge, on his long journey by foot from Delhi to his village, Begusarai, in Bihar. Pandit was forced to undertake the journey to be with his ailing son during the lockdown due to the pandemic. Tragically, Pandit’s son died that same day, before a social worker could arrange for his train ticket to Bihar. And though since then Pandit has been receiving aid from social workers in the form of food grains, he has not been able to find any work.

When Pandit’s story reached the national news networks, Rashtriya Janata Dal leader and Bihar chief ministerial hopeful Tejashwi Yadav promised him a job and financial aid, but he is still waiting for employment. The report in The Print quotes an RJD district president, Mohit Yadav, as saying, “Tejashwi ji had promised him a private job. I have told him we will help him in finding a job after the election. We are not in government so we can’t provide him a government job.” Pandit has not received an opportunity under the ruling coalition’s many employment schemes either.

As Bihar’s election finally draws to a close this month, there will be many like Pandit, who are hoping the state’s leaders can finally start delivering on the many promises they’ve been making during the campaign.