Books

Migrant Workers Discourse: A Facebook-series Turned E-Book

A valuable archive documents the migrant crisis in India that exacerbated after COVID-19

In Memorium: Extracts from Gangar’s Migrant Workers Discourse that began as a Facebook post in 2020
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It is not a coincidence that Migrant Workers Discourse, an e-book borne out of a Facebook series on displaced migrant workers, a terrible man-made tragedy caused by the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, will observe its third anniversary in April this year. The immediate victim of the nationwide lockdown was the ‘migrant worker’. The media started beaming images of thousands of poor men and women walking almost barefoot under the scorching sun, with babies in their arms along with bundles of rags. Human bodies floated in rivers or were burnt in leaping flames or buried with no near and dear ones around while hospitals struggled with no oxygen supply. It was Death! Death! Death!

The ongoing Migrant Workers Discourse on my Facebook page was my response to the tragedy inviting reactions from my friends and foes, from the known and the unknown. To make the ‘memory’ enduring, I came upon the idea of juxtaposing actual images of migrant workers with some from our popular cinema. The country’s poorest were dying on rail tracks and roads, in homes and in hospitals, and we never knew their names, nor their numbers. But from my Facebook images, an e-book was taking shape, perhaps the first such book in the world emerging from a long Facebook post and the discourse around it.

(This appeared in the print as "Forget, Never")

Amrit Gangar is a Mumbai-based film critic, theorist, curator, author and historian

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