Lockdown has unlocked the hidden plights of migrant labourers. During these lockdown periods, economic activities, productions and supplies of essential goods and services were completely suspended. The lockdown has severely impacted migrant laborers in terms of their employment, livelihoods and psychological state of mind. In this context, the Rural Management Programme of XISS has taken a small step by creating an online platform to address these issues.
XISS and State Bank Institute of Leadership (SBIL), Kolkata and State Bank Institute of Innovation & Technology, Hyderabad jointly organized a Webinar on “Lockdown and Migrant Laborers’ Issue” on August 20, 2020.
Dr. Niranjan Sahoo, Associate Professor, Rural Management Programme, XISS moderated the session, where he started off by giving a background on India’s Lockdown timeline and its effects on the economic activities of the country; and also introduced our panelists of the session.
Dr. (Fr.) Jospeh Marianus Kujur, Director XISS proceeded with the welcome address where he gave his insights on the state and environment of the migrant labourers. He pointed out that 85% of the workforce comprises unorganized workforce. The nodal government agencies like NITI Aayog, NSSO and Ministry of Labour have yet to provide common and consistent criteria defining the informal sector, which will help to distinguish between formal and informal sector of the workforce.
Dr. Himadri Sinha, Professor and Head of Programme, Rural Management, XISS came forward as the second speaker of the session, where he highlighted the issues of migrant labourers. He talked mostly about the migrants issue in Jharkhand, where he pointed the higher unemployment rate (7%) in the state in comparison to national average. JSLPS and Jharkhand Skill Development Mission have trained the migrant workers, but there would be need to create job security from the state’s side to secure their livelihoods and help them re-engage in Jharkhand itself.
The third speaker of the session, Dr. N. Krishna Kumar, Professor and Dean, SBIL, Kolkata started off with a very interesting note about the fall-out of migrants issue : Taking people to jobs or jobs to the people? Rather than talking about the humanitarian aspect of migrant labourers, he pointed out on the economic aspect of it. The migrants issue in India is not just the phenomena occurring now, but rather it is a legacy of the infrastructural bottlenecks existing in the economy since independence.
Dr. Sarika. R. Lohana, Fellow, State Bank Institute of Innovation & Technology, Hyderabad highlighted the lack of food security and job security have been hardest for those who don’t have proper documents to access the schemes and relief packages provided by the center. Later, Dr. Shikha Lakra and Ms. Taru from Phia foundation enlightened about the initiatives taken throughout by their foundation for migrant labourers. The foundation ran Helpline numbers and control room pravadi.com were setup for those who needed assistants majorly in Gumla and Khunti District. They also addressed the food requirements and provided huge supports to the migrants.
The session with approximately 150 participants from different backgrounds, ended with a more enriching question and answer session moderated by Dr. Rajshree Verma, Associate Professor, Rural Management Programme, XISS. The session ended with warm vote of thanks to panelist thanking them for their time and valuable views. The session was organised by PRAKRITI- The student’s club of Rural Management Programme, XISS, Ranchi.