TODAY -

Lockdown Impact: What Now for Returning Migrant Workers ?

M.K. Touthang *



All sociological studies on internal migration in India have so far focused on rural-urban migration due to the twin effects of agriculture distress in rural areas (push factor) and the economic opportunities in urban areas due to globalisation, urbanisation and other employment opportunities (pull factor).

However, COVID19 lockdown has resulted in an unprecedented reverse urban-rural migration across the country. The tiny state of Manipur, with a population of just over 28 Lakhs, is also witness to this reverse trend of migration as it has one of highest proportion of migrants scattered across all the cities of India.

Faced with the specter of unemployment and hunger due to the lockdown, thousands of these migrants have been forced to return home. The Govt. of Manipur has taken the right (and humane) decision of bringing home these migrants regardless of the risks.

Obviously, there has been a spike in the number of COVID19 positive cases after their arrival, but it is hoped that necessary arrangements are made for timely detection of infections and prevention of unchecked community spread in the state.

One question that arises out of this unprecedented situation is, "what now for these returning migrants?" To answer this, it is necessary to understand the general profile of these migrant workers.

The common thread binding this group of people into a homogeneous social group is the lack of qualification and skill-set (be it in terms of university qualification or even vocational) that would qualify them as "highly skilled-labour" who are sought after by employers.

They are normally employed in the unorganised sector like retail showrooms, supermarkets, restaurants and fast-food outlets, or even spa/massage parlours and the like. At an age where even IIT and IIM graduates are considered "unemployable" by several blue-chip MNCs, this group of work-force are at best, dispensable to their employers.

It therefore, comes as no surprise that these were the worst affected lot when the nation-wide lockdown was initiated and all commercial business operations came to a standstill. As it were, they are already lowly paid and exploited upon by their employers, and with little or no savings, they were literally on the verge of starvation until the state government arranged for their safe passage back home.

This leads us back to the million-dollar question - what now for these returning migrant workers? At the risk of sounding cliche, I would say that this is one of those "easier said than done" kind of situations.

To start with, some of them may experience psychological or adjustment problems - not unlike the withdrawal syndrome experienced by recovering drug/alcohol addicts - because they have been used to earning their own livelihood and living a life of their freewill devoid of any external control.

However, back home, they are now bereft of their source of income and they shall be subject to the constant monitoring and control of their parents, relatives and village or church institutions. In the long run, they may also contribute to a certain level of "cultural changes" given their prolonged exposure to the lifestyle of metro cities.

For example, club/party culture is very much prevalent in cities; if this culture is adopted back home, it would be an unfortunate transposition of the vices of the metros in our beloved home state.

From a constructive viewpoint, I would say the returning migrant workers have a lot more to offer. At the minimum, it is hoped that they would have observed and learned a few things about the business operations in which they were employed in the cities.

For example, a salesgirl/boy in a retail showroom would have been given some sort of training, however rudimentary it may be, about how to attract customers, how to keep the books of accounts, and how to organise/display the products, etc. The same may be true of a host/hostess in the restro-bars or any of the fast food chains.

With the right perspective and support, they can open their own businesses - however small to begin with - in the retail business or food and hospitality sector right here in our home state.

In this context, our state enjoys an invaluable advantage of easy access to the products of South-East Asian countries through Moreh; import and distribution of foreign-made clothing, footwear, household and electronic goods can become a lucrative business if the logistic bottlenecks are redressed.

It is very easy these days to reach millions of customers across the country by leveraging the e-commerce platforms like Flipkart and Amazon, and it is well-known that most of the products available on these portals are made in China, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, etc.

There is also the option of returning to our roots - agriculture - in tune with the changing times. If COVID19 lockdown has taught us one universal lesson, it is the need to have self-reliance in the most basic human need, food production.

What better satisfaction one can derive (amidst the lockdown) other than feasting on freshly plucked vegetables from your kitchen garden! There is a huge market for organic farm produces these days, and the kind of soil we have in Manipur is really fertile and nutritious for any kind of agricultural crops.

Various self-help groups (like SEVA, KEDO, etc.) have taken initiative in this regard in the past, and the same can be replicated and expanded across the state. Handloom/weaving are some of the other traditional areas where modernisation and commercialisation can take place with the right kind of leadership and support from the state.

In fact, the State Government has a big role to play in rehabilitating the returning migrant workers. State employment exchange may be revamped and made more accessible and beneficial for all.

The State must ensure that all central assistance schemes and other DRDA schemes are implemented without any institutional leakage; of late, it is observed that all these schemes are hijacked by one or the other 'organised armed groups' of the state. Vocational training institutes must be reformed and expanded across all districts and courses must be made freely accessible to all needy candidates.

Above all, access to financial capital must be made available through grants or small business loans from co-operative or other commercial banks.

In short, the State Government must ramp up the infrastructure and ecosystem required for all citizens to promote entrepreneurship, self-employment and income generation within the boundaries of the state itself, rather than migrating to far off alien cities filled with risks and insecurities.

For instance, the law and order situation must be brought to a level where investors feel secure enough to pump in investments in the state; this way, retail chains like Big Bazar, Reliance, Pantaloons, McDonald's, etc. can be convinced to open their outlets in the state.

COVID19 has given an opportunity for the State government to rise to the occasion and strive towards becoming a 'welfare state' in the true sense by providing its citizens the ways and means to earn their livelihood in the security of their own homes.


* M.K. Touthang, IDAS , wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer can be contacted at mktouthang(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on June 18 2020 .



* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of e-pao.net. We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.




LATEST IN E-PAO.NET
  • COVID-19 Status 05 July : Govt of Manipur
  • Eikhoigi Puwarini Nambul Turel #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 04 July : Govt of Manipur
  • Implication of Draft EIA Notification 2020
  • COVID-19 : Impact in Manipur :: News Timeline
  • Plain packaging will aid in ending tobacco
  • The virus and I :: Poem
  • Impact of COVID-19 on students
  • Delimitation & development: Role of Census
  • War on invisible enemy
  • Manipur & the Lushai Expedition, 1871-72 #1
  • COVID-19 Status 03 July : Govt of Manipur
  • Online Painting/ Sketching Competition
  • Covid-19: Impact in Manipur :: Photos/News..
  • Extension of Disturbed Area Act in Nagaland
  • The Politics of South China Sea Disputes : Book
  • Xi Jinping - Know the man, his upbringing..
  • Save Nambul River mission
  • If 'Transparency' is an alien concept?
  • Fashion Show @ Sangai Fest #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 02 July : Govt of Manipur
  • Eikhoigi Puwarini Nambul Turel #1 : Gallery
  • German agency to support NE entrepreneurs
  • Naawa Seidum: 'Best Narrative Film' at MIFF
  • The twilight of nature :: Poem
  • Career scope in Chemistry
  • Condemns non-inclusion of bodo language
  • Compulsion behind 5 days ultimatum
  • Unfolding the menace of Health Department
  • View from Shirui Hills in Ukhrul #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 01 July : Govt of Manipur
  • Power dynamics: Leikai Clubs & Meira Paibi
  • Kinthuilung, Khelheibha, Lunpilal: eMing
  • People's charter of demands to PM & CMs
  • A discourse with my soul :: Poem
  • Can antiviral fabrics stop the spread of COVID
  • Design behind 'abnormal' growth ?
  • Apologetic misnomer
  • Kanglen Aarti katpa #1 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 30 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Land Commission for improving relations #1
  • National Statistics Day & Statistical system
  • Distribution of Face Mask to Old Age Homes
  • A walk on prime meridian
  • Manipur leads a valiant fight against COVID
  • 48 hours later and not yet a word
  • Fate of print media in aftermath of COVID-19
  • Great June Uprising @Kekrupat #3 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 29 June : Govt of Manipur
  • July Calendar for Year 2020 : Tools
  • Cyberbullying using social media as weapons
  • Distribution of Face Mask to CRPF Personnel
  • Sports, children & transferability to classroom
  • The rain sings outside the window :: Poem
  • Online learning enrolments during lockdown
  • Morphing from negative to positive
  • COVID-19 and its impact to community
  • Gandhari (Dance Drama) #4 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 28 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Takhelchangbam Kunjabihari : Wari Liba
  • Antrimwanbut Khwan : Inpui emagazine
  • Public services essential to COVID response
  • Rajas & Maharajas in Parliament
  • Naga artist Ket Meth releases music video
  • Extending lockdown till July 15
  • Neire, Mei Taare- words of the new generation
  • COVID-19 Status 27 June : Govt of Manipur
  • E-Conference : New Frontiers in Science
  • COVID mirror
  • Property Sales & Client Support @ R-Square
  • SKY Hospital - 12th Foundation Day
  • Benjamin Tao - Convenor, Manipur, TICCI
  • Online Social Work Alumni Meet at RGU
  • Naga Peace Process :: News Timeline
  • Has state BJP succumbed to NPP's pressure?
  • Individual responsibility to battle Corona
  • COVID-19 Status 26 June : Govt of Manipur
  • The Lushai Expedition, 1871-72
  • Intl Day in Support of Victims of Torture
  • Remember :: Poem
  • Yoga as career choice
  • Head count on contentious census
  • In the game of politics
  • I Rise :: Film Scenes : eRang
  • Kits to frontliners @ ISBT : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 25 June : Govt of Manipur
  • International Day against Drug Abuse [Jun 26]
  • Corruption: A National Security Issue
  • Book : Rights & Entitlements at Chandel
  • Power tussle amid pandemic
  • Still no checking on corruption
  • Sangai Fest [Dec 1 2019] #3 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 24 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Essentials must include reproductive health
  • The Killing Fields 2013-20 : News Timeline
  • To peruse a father's heart :: Poem
  • The importance of the way we think
  • Politics of South China Sea disputes : Book
  • Art of running a coalition Govt
  • Great June Uprising @Kekrupat #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 23 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Sports and environment in Manipur
  • Corona stigma dogging even doctors & nurses
  • Mapping the Change Makers in North East
  • TNL knew better meaning of Quarantine
  • The Kukis, Justice and the UN
  • Scripting a high octane drama
  • QC at Saikul in Kangpokpi : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 22 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Impacts of Mapithel dam on forest & climate
  • Kang Chingba (Rath Yatra) Festival :: Book
  • Messengers of hope on World Music Day
  • Sound of environment :: Poem
  • Online Conclave for Women Entrepreneurs
  • Admission for Class XI should not be closed
  • Approaching the four figure mark
  • Demoralizing anti-corruption crusade
  • Lameithanbi - a myth with geological linkage
  • COVID-19 Status 21 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Highways of Life - best film at DocFest B'desh
  • The Unwelcome Delimitation : Part - II
  • We and today :: Poem
  • Yoga - A need of the hour
  • Cupid in COVID times
  • Voices for & against delimitation
  • Amur Falcon Fest @Tamenglong #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 20 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Gerrymandering in delimitation of AC
  • A humble tribute to fathers!
  • Jobs at LMP Technology, Canchipur
  • The gateway to heaven :: Poem
  • Nongpok Sanjenbam village #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 19 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Axone & Lingering Question of Racism in India
  • Training : Prevention of Spread of COVID-19
  • Patents or people: Conundrum of healthcare
  • Rahul Gandhi birthday observed at Dimapur
  • Programme on Disaster Risk Reduction
  • Curfew Violators- 19 June : Police Dept
  • Interesting election to lone RS seat
  • Arithmetic doesn't work in politics
  • Great June Uprising @Kekrupat #1 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 18 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Training program on cultivation of mushroom
  • NHRC registered Case to investigate Oil Spill
  • Experience :: Poem
  • Floriculture as career choice
  • Admission for Class XI at Govt Hr Sec School
  • Unfolding political developments
  • The fate of titular king in hard political game
  • Quarantine Center @ Mantripukri : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 17 June : Govt of Manipur
  • What Now for Returning Migrant Workers
  • Activation of State Food Commission
  • At a crossroad :: Poem
  • Women Entrepreneurs' program in Northeast
  • Curfew Violators- 17 June : Police Dept
  • 28 days quarantine period : TNL example
  • Arambam Samarendra Anniv #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 16 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Inevitable long wait alongside complacency
  • Compassion amidst the COVID gloom
  • Domestic Workers future beyond COVID-19
  • Poverty stricken student- 11th rank at HSLC
  • Consultative Meeting for Opening of Schools
  • On CM Rio press conference of June 15
  • Freebies on offer from schools
  • June 18 again: but is Manipur's territory safe
  • Class X (HSLC) Exam Toppers : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 15 June : Govt of Manipur
  • On George Floyd, breathless blacks & cops
  • Merit Scholarship - Class X & XII : Download
  • Condolence message for Th Oliver Monsang
  • COVID-19: Resilience & way forward
  • Understanding and accepting adversities
  • Nagaland Cabinet decision to regularize MOs
  • Spotlight on quarantine centres
  • Leirum and Luirim connotation
  • Class X Exam 2020 : Merit List
  • Class X Exam 2020 : Result Sheet
  • Class X Exam 2020 : Subject Toppers
  • Class X Exam 2020 : Statistics Abstract
  • COVID-19 Status 14 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Podcast on Manipur by Carnegie Endowment
  • Proposed park in Chivu needs a rethink
  • Home :: Poem
  • Social Media during Lockdown
  • Worrying double digit spikes
  • Adieu to Pi, Themneihat ..
  • COVID-19 Status 13 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Online Survey for people at Quarantine
  • The way forward after COVID-19
  • To strive for economic revival in COVID-19
  • A moonlit night in June :: Poem
  • Career options in Horticulture
  • Need for empathy & responsibility
  • Cultural @Sangai Fest 2019 #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 12 June : Govt of Manipur
  • The Unwelcome Delimitation : Part I
  • RIMS in top 40 Medical institute in India
  • FDP: Research Topic for Arts & Science
  • Importance of webinars for academicians
  • 'Strictly follow SOP by Nagaland Govt'
  • To be discharged sans test results
  • Now Chief Minister is silent on corruption
  • Livelihood implication on Unjas
  • COVID-19 Status 11 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Rethinking Oil exploration in North East
  • Decry the assault on Dr. N Haraba
  • Pandemic Parodies
  • CBSE exam for remaining subjects
  • QC Discharge Rule Clarification [11 June]
  • Looking back at first case, shutdown 1.0
  • Winning Covid-19
  • Arambam Samarendra Anniv #1 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 10 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Manipur's Draft Bamboo Policy
  • Sanjita Chanu cleared of doping charge- IWF
  • On reopening of schools in Manipur
  • Research & Project Associate at IBSD, Imphal
  • Concern with Oil Spill at Baghjan
  • Prison spell : CM bang on target
  • Even diarrhea kills human sometimes
  • Relief Services in 5 dists #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 09 June : Govt of Manipur
  • 4th delimitation in Manipur : Impact analysis
  • Sunzu Bachaspatimayum - Secretary of MFDS
  • Yes, Homecoming ! :: Poem
  • Speed up COVID-19 Test in Senapati IQC
  • Sales & Client Support @ R-Square (Imphal)
  • Curfew Violators [09 June] : Police Dept
  • Looking at cluster transmission
  • Is quarantine centers hotspot for COVID-19 ?
  • 2nd Barak Festival @ Senapati : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 08 June : Govt of Manipur
  • With Four Prime Ministers :: Book Review
  • Meeting with youth of Manipur amidst lockdown
  • COVID-19 Memo - Govt of Manipur [08 June]
  • Delimitation: Redrawing political ambitions
  • Quarantine @ JNV Yaralpat: Gallery
  • MA (Manipuri) in Meetei Mayek from 2020
  • Quarantine @ UNACCO School: Gallery
  • Motsillaba Mingsel :: eRang Photos
  • Laibi Oinam : Lady Auto Driver ...
  • Train @Jiri [May 28] #2 : Gallery
  • Geographical Indication, Leirum Phee & others
  • Thang Ta at Sangai Fest #3 : Gallery
  • I Rise :: Film Synopsis & Biography
  • Measures @ Imphal Airport - 25 May : Gallery
  • M.K Binodini Devi's Sense of Beauty
  • Phisakol #3 :: eRang
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • Featured Front Page Photo 2020 #2: Gallery
  • The Princess & the Political Agent : eBook
  • Tangkhul Forum vegetable for valley: Gallery
  • Items distributed to Tarao -Apr 23 #2: Gallery
  • SPONSORED ADS