Bangalore is a major destination for migrant workers belonging to the Mising community. The Misings are the second largest tribe in Assam in northeast India. Today morning, I spoke to Ghanadhar Jimey, who is the vice president of the Mising society of Bangalore, who is actively engaged in distributing relief materials to the workers stranded in Bangalore.
Key takeaways from the chat are:-
- About 2000 Migrant workers from the mising community are currently in Bangalore. They work as security guards, waiters, in the hotel industry, sales executive, and in retail stores.
- A considerable number of the migrants have lost their jobs, while some are home without pay. All of them stay in rented rooms with bare minimum facilities.
- Many are surviving on credit from the nearby grocery stores. The workers over the years have been able to establish relationships with the neighborhood grocery stores which enables them to get the essential requirements on credit. However, even the stores now need cash, so borrowing is not an option anymore.
- Many are surviving on money sent from their families back home. While a good number had also come to Bangalore just before the lockdown. They are surviving on the goodwill of their roommates, as they have not earned any salaries yet.
- The Mising society of Bangalore, through funds collected from their members, contributions from generous individuals, and the support of an NGO, has been able to reach out of almost 1500 migrants. Relief support is mostly given as rations packets. They need as many volunteers as possible. Those who work have been issued passes by the Nodal officer responsible for Northeastern people in Bangalore.
- A good thing is that a considerable number of the received some bit of aid from the Assam government and also the Mising Autonomous council. The amount, even though, less is of much help.
- Many workers highlighted that they would go back home after the lockdown ends. some because they lost their jobs while the majority of them are being called back home by their families. It could be a long time before they return to work again.
- “There is a need to learn newer skills in Bangalore and then eventually go back to Assam and start their own ventures”, highlight Ghana in the interview.
(This interview is the first in a series of interviews I plan to take on the effect of COVID19 on the Mising community. Keep watching this space for more updates and interviews)