Due to COVID-19 Pandemic, the entire nation and government authorities are struggling with challenges of multiple layers. One such layer is about the safe travel of stranded labours from large cities to their native towns and villages.
There are a couple of states which are on the main stage of this activity. Uttar Pradesh is India’s biggest labour supplier. So, in every industrial town or city in India, we have ample of Labours of UP origin. These are often terms as migrant labours and in cities like Mumbai and Delhi collectively there are over 2 million UP native labours are working and living.
The situation with respect the stranded labours came to light after a couple of days when the nationwide lockdown was announced. Its been close to more than 50 days since we keep hearing news and updates regarding stranded labours in various parts of the country. Mumbai and Delhi are on top followed by Surat and other parts of Gujarat as cities such as Hyderabad, Nagpur, Chandigarh etc have a lot of labours in distress.
Well, the UP government is working on this issue seriously and in last two days, Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Mr. Yogi Adityanath received calls from the four Chief Ministers of other states and all of them have assured him that migrant labour from his State need not leave and would be taken care of as a graded exit from the lockdown now looms. While the Chief Ministers are worried that economic revival in their States, post lockdown, would be hampered as more and more labour left their borders Mr. Adityanath had, a month prior, put in place some systems to change the status quo vis a vis U.P.
We the dialogues between chief Ministers on the topic of migrant labours shows that the state governments are working very seriously on this aspect as well as the fact that the state leadership have understood the importance of labours, their health and safety as well as the economic health of the respective states.
On this issue, Mr. Siddharth Nath Singh, Minister for MSME in the UP Government have informed, “More than a month ago, CM Yogi Ji set up a committee with agriculture produce commissioner Alok Sinha and representation from rural development, micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME), labour and Panchayati raj departments. As MSME Minister, I was also told that the mandate of the committee was to explore ways to ramp up employment opportunities to those returning. The goal we have been given is around 15 lakh jobs, with five lakh jobs target for my department alone.”
It was three weeks after the setting up of the committee, that Mr Adityanath declared that he would coordinate with other States to bring migrant workers back home. Till date, 6.5 lakh migrants have returned. “In those three weeks, we have worked hard in first of all ramping up banking proposals. I held three meetings with banks and we have cleared more than 20,000 loan proposals for tiny businesses [which can employ 4 people excluding the owner] pending since before the pandemic hit. This credit flow will kick in once the lockdown is lifted,” said Mr Singh. “We want that more and more of our people needn’t travel out for work.”
Well, this is a major development and can be considered as an economic game-changer for the entire country. If UP’s labours decide to stay back in UP itself even after the lockdown, it can become a difficult situation for the manufacturing sector and industries across the country.
Mr Singh also said that while this was for creating jobs via domestic entrepreneurship, the State has also set up three desks, Japan, South Korea and the U.S. desks to deal with international companies that may want to relocate to Uttar Pradesh. Mr Adityanath’s economic advisor K.V. Raju (who has earlier worked with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Gujarat) is one of those taking care of these issues.
A new normal is being created with regard to life in the COVD-19 hit world, and one of the most dramatic changes, if pulled off, could be for Uttar Pradesh to provide employment to its people within the State.
With such visionary developments in the policymaking corridors of UP can we expect some major economic trends post-COVID Lockdown? The answer to this question could be very crucial for the economy of the nation.