US Workers’ Satyagraha

us.jpgRemember Satyagraha? It is the movement initiated by Gandhi, which ultimately won us our freedom. It comes from two words, “Satya” or truth and “agraha” or request. Therefore, Satyagraha means “request for truth”. Truth is powerful and Satyagraha is a proof of that. Even after sixty years of independence, Satyagraha continues to exist. Not just in history books and our grandfathers’ stories but in our hearts. We still believe in its power, in its magic. At least, some Indians do.

Around 500 Indian workers, who went to US to get jobs and were eventually cheated by a human trafficking chain, do believe in Satyagraha. They paid approximately $2000 to US and Indian recruiters to get permanent jobs and residences in the US. The jobs obviously did not exist and now these helpless Indians are running from pillar to post. They complained to the Indian Embassy and the Indian ambassador, Mr. Ronen Sen, who responded with a seven days silence, followed by a 97-words letter. The workers, naturally, feel insulted at the less than expected interest shown by Mr. Ronen Sen. The workers are coming to Washington D.C. on March 26 and will be launching a “Satyagraha” movement here. They demand a mass meeting with the Indian ambassador.

These workers, members of the Alliance of Guest Workers for Dignity, believe in the power of truth. They look upon Gandhi’s Satyagraha against the British salt tax system as an example. The workers have been complaining to the Indian embassy in the US, which says they are investigating cases of workers’ exploitations by the recruits in India of the US Company Signal International. The workers complain that, firstly, they did not get the jobs. Even those who got the jobs were made to work in unsatisfactory and inhumane conditions. The Embassy seems to be annoyed at being held responsible for the exploitation of semi-literate workers who leave everything in India and come to the US to make a living. Anyhow, the Embassy in Washington has agreed to get involved in the matter after a talk with the Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs in New Delhi.

Nevertheless, the workers were not too happy and satisfied with the response they got from the Indian Government and the Indian ambassador. Therefore, they have decided to launch a “Satyagraha”. Whether this Satyagraha will be successful or not, is a question only time can answer. However, this issue does raise eyebrows, on the attitude of Indian government towards its citizens working abroad.

Human trafficking is a problem bigger than we think it to be. It is an evil in disguise. People sell their homes, farms, every bit of their property in India to arrange for money to go to other countries and earn. They dream of getting good jobs and an higher income. This dream is indeed very far from reality, but then, we cannot blame them. The recruiters make them dream big, bigger than possible. Then they go on to cheat them of their money. Later, when these workers do not get jobs, they are forced to commit suicide. Or else, if they are angry enough, they launch something like “Satyagraha”. Whether the workers in the US launch the “Satyagraha” or not, they have a genuine problem and the Indian government owes the workers a fair deal.

Prerna jha


[Image Source :]