News & Events

Report of National Consultation on Networking among Jesuits on Issues of Migration organised by Labour & Migration Unit in collaboration with Global Ignatian Advocacy Network [GIAN] Back

Venue: Indian Social Institute, Bangalore
Dates: 28 & 29 February, 2016.
List of Participants: Sannybhai [JESA&GIAN coordinator, Delhi], Dr. Anthony Dias [XISR, Mumbai], Francis Guntipilly [Anekal, Karnataka], Sabu Malayil [Jeevika, Kerala], Dr. Benny Chiramel [Sneharam, Kerala], Sebastian Crossian [Chennai], Jeyaseelan Arockiam [Andhra and ISI-B], Martin Puthussery [ISI-B].

The consultation began with a welcome by Fr Martin Puthuserry heading the Labour and Migration Unit of ISI. It was followed by a brief address of Sannybhai, the Secretary for Social Action and Coordinator of GIAN. Sannybhai, in his brief address spelt out the purpose of the networks. With respect to the Migrants Network he said that it is important to work on an issue that is important to the migrants. He offered support also from Lok Manch, an initiative of the JESA. This address was followed by a sharing of work and experiences of the participants.

The second day was devoted to identifying issues and concerns in migration. If the first session was intense and engaging, the second one was more analytical. It threw up a lot of questions on the deplorable, oppressive and helpless situation of the migrants on the one hand and the apathy, even antipathy of the host population, that of the administration and also of the political class. It also came to light that some Jesuit provinces do not have any purposeful outreach for the migrants. It was observed that the attitude of some Jesuits towards migrants is not helpful.

It was said that everyone wanted the services of the migrants but wanted them out of sight when the work was over! Despite the contribution of the migrants to the economy, which is grudgingly acknowledged by the state, the migrants continue to be exploited, humiliated and are generally the prime suspects when crimes are committed. Migrants are suspected or held responsible for the rising crime graph despite statistics that show the involvement and complicity of the local population. Such is the prejudice against migrants.

Jesuit centres are involved in a variety of works which focus on engaging the state in doing something for the migrants. Some Jesuit organizations continue to fight for the rights of the migrants in the courts, at the police stations, and in the assemblies of the people’s representatives. The instances of legal and political advocacy have been evident n their work. Some Jesuits said that often times it was difficult to balance the rights of the workers and the expectations and compulsions of businessmen. Relentless demand for the rights of workers has sometimes resulted in closure of business, which affected the livelihood of workers desperate to earn a living.

The final session dealt with how to strengthen the GIAN network on Migration. It was generally felt that the best way would be to do collective advocacy on any pressing issue. The issue of Identity was singled out as the most important for the migrants. Since this needed to be more concrete, the participants thought of working on making ration cards a reality for all the migrants. This would ensure two things: help in giving identity to migrants and also address the livelihood needs of the target population. Attention was drawn to the fact the Food Security Act excludes migrants from its ambit. Hence there is need to work for appropriate changes in the Law, and in Policy, wherever needed.

Each organization would set a target for itself and would work in close collaboration with MSSN, exchanging notes on the progress of the campaign to get rations cards for as many vulnerable migrants as possible. The longer term vision is to work for policy and law changes that would benefit the migrant community. ‘Food’ would not merely include rice or wheat but a whole basket in which basic nutrients would be made available for a decent living.