Marking a refreshing twist in a stateâs approach towards its migrant workforce, the Kerala government has set a precedent by referring to the migrant labourers in the state as 'guest labourers'.
Amid the unforeseen ongoing situation of a global pandemic, that has put countries around the world in complete lockdown, hundreds and thousands of migrant and daily wage labourers are stranded with nowhere to go.
Showing compassion at such a time, the Kerala government, as always, is leading by example by showing a proactive approach, not just towards handling the Coronavirus outbreak but also for its treatment of such workers, whom Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, as well as other government officials, now refer to as 'Atithi thozhilalikal'.
Atithi means guest and thozhilalikal means mazdoor or labourer.
Every good gesture must be appreciated and this particular observation was made by a journalist on Twitter who referred to this as âcreating new words/cultures during #CoronaCrisisâ.
In Kerala, thereâs a new word to refer to migrant workers. Itâs guest labourers (Atithi thozhilalikal). As the CM to officials started using it, itâs becoming a common word there, I am told. creating new words/culture during #CoronaCrisisâ Liz Mathew (@MathewLiz) March 27, 2020
Interestingly, the term was first coined by the state's Finance Minister Thomas Issac during his Budget speech in February 2018.
The idea behind this was to commemorate the 3.5 million migrant labourers in Kerala and honour them for their contributions to the stateâs labour force.
The journalistâs post on Twitter about the Vijayan government honouring the workers did not go unappreciated on social media.
Kerala is setting so many examplesâ Anjali Ojha (@ojhaanjali) March 27, 2020
Itâs so much better than Anyasamsthaana thozhilalikal tbh!â Miss Mojo Jojo (@shw8ster) March 27, 2020
This word declared on Pinarayi govt's budget on 2018.
CM has been using this beautiful word ever since
Hats off Kerala!
We reveal who we are in times of crisis.
And Kerala is shining through.
Took its time, but glad its a thing now. Work is worship.â BrawlyPooch (@MeanderingWonk) March 27, 2020
Thatâs a much better word to address them. Kerala canât survive without them. I wish the Middle East and South East Asian governments address us like that.â comfortablynumb (@TapTap_80) March 27, 2020
However, some people also expressed concern stating that merely renaming migrant workers as 'guests' would not solve the crisis of thousands of workers as jobs are drying up right now.
To add to that, in the absence of public transport during the lockdown, many were forced to undertake arduous journeys back home on foot.
What about this?While we Tamils here are supporting keralites Kerala govt at this time of crisis forcefully evicted and dropped tamil migrant workers at borders without providing food and water..â The Postman (@kumarikandan) March 27, 2020
Meanwhile, will you please find out whether Vijayan's Govt did arrange exit of many such 'guest workers' by special trains to Assam and Santragachi in the past few weeks???? Have been asking this to fellow malayali WARRIORS and NONE, I repeat NONE have cared to respond @seemayâ V. Krishna Ananth (@VKrishnaAnanth) March 27, 2020
yeah thts wht we need now, new words.. slow clap for the CM #ChinaVirus19â Low IQ Intellectual (@LowIQ18) March 27, 2020
Sounds good and lessens the guilt but on critical thinking itâs OXYMONORIC. which culture ask guest to do paid work ?â bhupen (@bhupendubey) March 27, 2020
Nevertheless, addressing them as 'guests' instead of migrants is surely a positive shift in the approach towards them which should be followed by other states too.
Moreover, the government has also set up community kitchens for guest labourers to ensure smooth supply of food for people hit by the crisis.