Opinion

Migrant workers must be given new livelihood opportunities

Rajan Samuel | Updated on April 16, 2020 Published on April 16, 2020

Along with support measures, those who underwent reverse migration from cities should be provided with jobs in their villages once the lockdown ends

As we are seeing images of thousands of daily-wage labourers walking with families and their meagre belongings from metro cities to their villages. While many fear the catastrophe that can accur if even one of them is a Covid-19 carrier , others can understand their need to flee. These people work in the unorganised sector, many live in make-shift arrangement earning hand to mouth, their documentation refers to their native villages, which leads to the fear they might not be able to get the subsided ration being provided by the government.

But more than anything, it is the fear of being stranded and left alone, far from home. The sheer number of people desperately trying to get home, even though it could be fatal, tells us that they didn’t move to the city by choice. They love their native towns and villages, and the families they have left behind.But the opportunity to earn and provide for them did not allow them to go back. It is these times of uncertainty and crises that has forced them to take that step.

Relief measures

The question now is, what will happen to these people? Will they have enough to survive in their villages, will they want to come back; or rather, should they come back to the cities after the crisis is over? They don’t have an easy life in there, and in return, the cities don’t have the infrastructure to accommodate them. In this case, if they are provided with livelihood opportunities in their villages, they can sustain with their families.

The government is addressing some of the challenges faced by migrating families by providing them food, health facilities, conditional cash transfers and other immediate relief materials. The State government has unoccupied homes along with schools and other government facilities which are being used to provide temporary and transitional shelter facilities. These are all short-term measures that the government is providing to the migrant families.

Opportunities for livelihood

However, for those who have succeeded in reaching their villages, as the situation after the lockdown normalises, the lack of livelihood opportunity in the villages will force them back to cities. As, we plan to put the country back on its feet after this crisis, the government should think of intermediate plans and provisions for the displaced and underprivileged families. The government should make policy changes to provide solutions and alternate sources of livelihood within villages. Grass-roots level enterprises dealing with livestock and dairy should be brought in to force on an immediate basis, allowing secure and quick employment.

Housing is at the heart of healthy and sustained living. It creates an asset which is critical in a long-lasting, life-changing differences in the families. These families need to have a foothold in their own communities, which will strengthen the roots of the country and hence provide large-scale and long-term growth for all. The government can identify and collaborate with housing finance companies and micro finance companies to provide loan to these families based on their affordability and requirement. Organisations like Habitat India can bridge the gap between the families and the government by delivering housing and household support services to these migrant families. A decent shelter and opportunities to earn a livelihood within their villages will be a key in ensuring that every affected family is able to stand strong in this crisis and create a safety net for the family.

The writer is the Managing Director of non-profit Habitat for Humanity India

Published on April 16, 2020

A letter from the Editor


Dear Readers,

The coronavirus crisis has changed the world completely in the last few months. All of us have been locked into our homes, economic activity has come to a near standstill. Everyone has been impacted.

Including your favourite business and financial newspaper. Our printing and distribution chains have been severely disrupted across the country, leaving readers without access to newspapers. Newspaper delivery agents have also been unable to service their customers because of multiple restrictions.

In these difficult times, we, at BusinessLine have been working continuously every day so that you are informed about all the developments – whether on the pandemic, on policy responses, or the impact on the world of business and finance. Our team has been working round the clock to keep track of developments so that you – the reader – gets accurate information and actionable insights so that you can protect your jobs, businesses, finances and investments.

We are trying our best to ensure the newspaper reaches your hands every day. We have also ensured that even if your paper is not delivered, you can access BusinessLine in the e-paper format – just as it appears in print. Our website and apps too, are updated every minute, so that you can access the information you want anywhere, anytime.

But all this comes at a heavy cost. As you are aware, the lockdowns have wiped out almost all our entire revenue stream. Sustaining our quality journalism has become extremely challenging. That we have managed so far is thanks to your support. I thank all our subscribers – print and digital – for your support.

I appeal to all or readers to help us navigate these challenging times and help sustain one of the truly independent and credible voices in the world of Indian journalism. Doing so is easy. You can help us enormously simply by subscribing to our digital or e-paper editions. We offer several affordable subscription plans for our website, which includes Portfolio, our investment advisory section that offers rich investment advice from our highly qualified, in-house Research Bureau, the only such team in the Indian newspaper industry.

A little help from you can make a huge difference to the cause of quality journalism!

Support Quality Journalism
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor
You have read 1 out of 3 free articles for this week. For full access, please subscribe and get unlimited access to all sections.