A carnival on the occasion of Football World Cup is going on in Qatar. This small Arabian country has virtually remodelled itself over the last ten years spending crores of rupees to have glitzy and wealthy facade with seven ultra-modern stadiums, lavishly furnished VIP lounges and media corners, hundreds of luxurious apartments in multi-storied buildings, laser lights and so forth. Buried underneath is a grim tragedy. 85% of 50 lakh population of Qatar are immigrants. Most of the immigrants are either labourers or engaged in lower-end jobs. They have all come from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Philippines and African countries like Kenya, Nigeria, etc., to earn their bread and butter, as back home, they have no job. So, leaving their families and relatives thousands of miles away, they have come all the way to Qatar and other Arabian countries to sell their labour power. Most of them stay in ghettos. Temperature of Qatar in summer rises to 50 degree centigrade and above which is intolerable for men. But the immigrant workers are made to work in that scorching heat as well without any proper safety measures.
Such inhuman are the employers who know that these hapless immigrants would bear with all kinds of tortuous treatment to eke out a living. These labourers have only worked day and night to build up the infrastructure for hosting the World Cup paving way for Qatari rulers, International Football Federation authorities and other associated businessmen. But just a couple of months back, they were evicted from their places of residence forcibly with barely a two hour notice so that the roads through which the dignitaries and VIPs would travel do not bear any sign of distress of the labourers and the vacated apartments could be used for accommodating tournament personnel.
Now, the most horrific news has arrived. According to Amnesty International, over 15,000 immigrant labourers lost their lives during last ten years to modernize Qatar for the extravaganza. It reminds one how the hawkers of Salt lake area of Kolkata were evicted en masse during World Youth Football tournament in 2017 or when the former US President Donald Trump’s motorcade made its way from the airport in Ahmedabad to the sprawling stadium, venue of his felicitation, the BJP-controlled municipal corporation of the city had constructed a four-foot-high wall and put on a cloth cover to hide a stretch of slums on the route. This is the cruel face of capitalism where workers who are real creators of civilization are consigned to doom whereas fruits of their labour are enjoyed by a handful of super-rich and corporate houses. Just a few days back, it came in the media that while asked to say who had built the Taj Mahal, a class V student replied, ‘‘hundreds of workers, sculptors and artisans’’. Perhaps that child has an insight into the reality which many so called erudite and educated do not have.