India’s labour crisis - GulfToday

India’s labour crisis

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The photo has been used for illustrative purposes.

Cities like Mumbai and Delhi are lifting the lockdowns and permitting industries to commence manufacturing. However, many factories are unable to re-commence manufacturing. In Mumbai, even car garages are unable to attend to repairs, for their migrant staff has returned to their home states.                                                                          

States like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Kerala etc., which depended on migrant labour from other states, will suffer. Their factories and industrial establishment will remain shut. Cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, etc., lure workers from across various states in India. Typically, towns and states which are industrially developed, attract workers from states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, etc., where industrial development has been slower.

However, these states themselves are focussing on improving their prosperity by encouraging investments in industry. The local labourers which earlier went to work in large cities outside their own state, are finding it possible to secure employment in their own states.

If a local worker can earn Rs. 8,000 ($ 107 app) per month in a factory in Jharkhand, he will opt to stay in his own home state. Even if he earns Rs. 12,500 ($ 167), per month in Delhi, he would prefer to stay put in Jharkhand. In Delhi, he would have to spend Rs. 6,000 for a room and food, on a shared basis. So, he would be left with just Rs. 6,500 per month ($ 87), which is less than what he would earn at home, where his accommodation would be free and he could be close to his family, relatives and friends.

In Chhattisgarh state also, the government is giving fillip to industrialization and construction projects.  Local labourers increasingly prefer to work in their home states.

In future, employers in metro towns in India, may have to adopting the Middle East model of employment, which is bring in workers from other nations and provide them with places to stay, eat, relax and medical benefits. The company which brings the workers has to provide a more holistic and wholesome life to the workers.

The migrant workers of India were treated very shabbily, when the lockdown was declared on 24 March. They walked from 200 to 1,200 kms on foot, without food, shelter or transport to reach their homes. Many died on these desperate journeys to reach their villages. They are not going to forget these scalding memories. Not many of them are going to return to the cities easily or too early.

Rajendra Aneja — Mumbai, India

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