By: Vijay Kumar Verma, Group Editor-ICN World
SHIMLA: An estimated one crore migrant labour has already returned to their home states during the one month period due to impact of the Corona virus all over the country bringing the economy to a stand still. Many more workers are lined up to return to their homes as soon as possible. The honorable Supreme court has also directed the concerned governments to organize for the return to all migrants within the next 15 days.
A big question is if the situation will stand settled after that? While on the one hand the Corona positive cases are on the increase everyday without any respite, the state governments have too taken it in their stride and have started opening up of the economy in a phased manner. An alarming situation is about to emerge when on the one hand the industry will fail to get their experienced manpower back and on the other end the migrated labour will fail to get gainful employment in their home states.
While the state governments are talking loud of starting avenues to engage these workers in their home states, the big question is that of resources at their hands in the industrial sector itself one notices a huge gap in concentration of industrial activities in some states in comparison to deficient in other others.
The opportunities of employment in these progressive states only had resulted in the migration of workers to far off places. And gradually they had opted to bring their family members as well along. The women folk too had got employed as domestic helps in middle class households for supplementing their family income. The urban lifestyle of these migrants over the years had attracted their near and dear ones to try their luck too in cities. If not in employment, such people had too got their foothold as casual workers, hawkers, rickshaw pullers, etc.
The exodus of this workforce from the cities has already started showing its impact. Not only the organized industry, the unorganized sector too has started feeling the scarcity of labour.
An analysis shows that most of the casual workers viz masons, construction labour, painters are from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. While labour from Orissa specialise in plumbing jobs, the Jewelry industry had people from West Bengal.
All over the country these migrants had found a comfortable habitat except some hostile places like Maharashtra where the north Indian Bihar migrants were often targeted under the political compulsion by some party leaders. But unfortunately in the hour of Corona crisis all such hostility had been experienced by them in almost all the states. Not to be surprised, the Corona scare has made everyone individualistic and selfish
The exodus of such a large workforce is already being felt by the households where the women are not finding domestic helps. A clear situation was that I need all the helpers, gardeners, domestic helps, cleaners, drivers, at hand but no one wanted the existence of shanties near their homes.
On the other side is the scenario of influx of these migrants in their home states. They have landed in their own homes as guests but many have already started feeling the pinch of uncertain future in the times to come. Had the home states been able to generate employment why they had had to go away in search of work If at all there was work in villages why was there so much of unemployment in these Hindi heartlands. The influx is not only going to pose a big problem for the family members of these migrants but also for the state governments who already are reeling under funds crunch as a result of the economic shutdown.
The day is not far when the Corona will be braced by everyone as a common ailment without its dread of fatality as a result of vaccines, these very migrants will be lining up to go back to their old places of work. The trains overflowing with people to Mumbai, Gujarat, Delhi Punjab and other cities.
I still distinctly remember when after taking over as Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, in a public address, had claimed that the 65 percent youth population of the country was a big asset. Today, after 6 years of the governance, how can one assess the fruitfulness of the this huge workforce specially in the face of prevailing pandemic. More hands also mean more mouths to feed.
The exodus and the influx are the emerging areas of concern that need to be addressed urgently.
TO BE CONTINUED……