A Historian, Ajay Dandekar’s Analysis On Handling Reverse Migration Due To COVID-19 LockdownMay 21, 2020 21:27
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Anacademic, Ajay Dandekar, in one of his interviews with News18 estimates, there would be "massive economic and societal crisis” and structural changes with reverse migration as 14 crore migrant workers returned back to their homes during the lockdown.
Dandekar is a passionate historian who spent the last 20 years of his life researching and writing about rural India. He teaches at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Shiv Nadar University.
Despite several estimates being presented, neither the National Sample Survey Office nor the census has been able to accurately present the number of workers who have tried getting back to their homes since the lockdown was first imposed on March 25.
Based on many calculations, people are researching and coming up with their own numbers. According to Dandekar’s estimation only, there are more than 140 million or 14 crore workers. However, there would be a variation in these numbers and the actual numbers.
States like Bihar, Odisha, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, parts of Maharashtra and Gujarat have already become victims to these economic crises. These states face stress in agriculture, droughts and inefficient implementation of welfare schemes.
The Economic Policy In the 90’s
This story of India facing crisis in the agricultural sector has been there since 1990. You can think of how stressful this must be for the small and marginal farmers who have been struggling for 30 years with not many people making investments in this sector.
After the new economic policy in the 90’s, several changes came up in the agricultural sector and people started migrating from rural to peri-urban areas.
They had no option but to migrate because the rural farmers were not in a plight to carry on with their livelihood and handle economic stress.
When these economic policies changed, they came up with alternatives for the marginal farmers to shift to peri-urban and urban areas in the construction sectors, semi-skilled sectors and MSMEs that had started to boom. Having said, still there were challenges and managing a decent livelihood was difficult back then.
Migrant Workers Situation On Returning Back Home
Talking of the current situation due to the pandemic in 2020, with several migrant workers going back to their villages, all the rural sectors will be under major stress. It is not an easy situation to expect the villages rural infrastructure to be in place and welcome back the migrant’s home with employment opportunities
Owing to the fact that migrant workers don’t have better opportunities back at home, they choose cities to earn their livelihood. Sadly, if there isn’t a good structural change in our economic policy, how will these crises be dealt with?
As of now, most of the migrant workers are in debts and they would be under pressure from the money lenders when they go back home.
In this situation, even money lenders will think twice on lending money unlike banks. Migrant workers are put in a spot from everywhere. They wouldn’t want to go back to cities for receiving bad treatment and this will impact their livelihood. The money that they would earn in cities and send home will stop.
Dandekar fears that even informal sources of lending will stop and for those loans collaterals won’t be available.
Dandekar’s Thoughts On The Current Situation
He thinks that people from rural areas need help and expecting farmers to pay back the credit you give them is almost impossible.
Since this is not possible, even the MSME’s won’t think of giving credit to farmers as they cannot pay it back themselves.
After analyzing and looking into minor details, he says that most of the demand is ought to come fromrural India. Only if they have money, they can spend. For situations to set right, it is necessary to provide assistance and support rural India.
By Neha Makhija