Ranabir Samaddar, director of the Mahanirban Calcutta Research Group, interviewed by Monobina Gupta (TheWire.in)
Ranabir Samaddar, director of the Mahanirban Calcutta Research Group, speaks about the factors behind the migrants’ desperation to reach home and the dynamics of the visibility and invisibility of migrant labour.
With the abrupt imposition of the lockdown aimed at arresting the spread of the novel coronavirus, and prospects of earning a livelihood in cities and urban areas drying up, India stood witness to a mass exodus of migrant workers at the end of March. In fact, the world over, lockdowns over the virus have brought normal life to a standstill and rendered millions unemployed.
Recently, the Calcutta Research Group (CRG) brought out a collection of essays around the lives and politics of migrant workers. In an interview, Ranabir Samaddar, the director of the Mahanirban Calcutta Research Group, speaks to The Wire about the factors behind the migrants’ desperation to reach home, the dynamics of the visibility and invisibility of migrant labour and the boundary making exercises in economy and governance that produce migrants.
* You have been tracking migrant workers, their economic and social journeys, for a long time. What are your reflections on the current situation?
The large number of unfortunate coronavirus deaths the world over – particularly of elders and medical personnel amid the ruins of the public health system in advanced capitalist countries, remind us of the calls for a closure of the liberal world.
Denial and dithering have combined with pseudo-Darwinian herd immunity theories to escape the closure; literally, the closure of families, neighbourhoods, schools, cities, provinces, states, modes of transportation, and closure of the system. Borders are closed.
Please click here to read more.
Please click here to access the essay collection entitled Borders of an Epidemic: COVID-19 and Migrant Workers, edited by Prof. Ranabir Samaddar, Mahanirban Calcutta Research Group, 2020.
Image Courtesy: Mahanirban Calcutta Research Group, http://www.mcrg.ac.in/rs.asp
TheWire.in, 23 April, 2020, https://thewire.in/rights/interview-ranabir-samaddar-migrant-workers-invisible