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Can states take care of their migrant workers?

When the nationwide lockdown due to Covid-19 was announced on March 24 last year, the reverse migration that ensued exposed the extreme limitations of many state governments in handling the crisis.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
March 30, 2021 1:23:05 am
Can states take care of their migrant workers?And as the state budgets for the upcoming financial year show, governments and policymakers are facing tough resource constraints - throwing up many questions on how states will handle needs of migrant workers.

When the nationwide lockdown due to Covid-19 was announced on March 24 last year, the reverse migration that ensued exposed the extreme limitations of many state governments in handling the crisis. There were deep, systemic inadequacies which had long remained unaddressed, and it became evident that these would have to be addressed urgently. And as the state budgets for the upcoming financial year show, governments and policymakers are facing tough resource constraints – throwing up many questions on how states will handle needs of migrant workers.

For example, are states able to address the wellbeing of these workers? Do state governments have the financial capacity to handle the problems that emerged from lost remittances as hordes of migrant workers left their jobs in other parts of the country and returned home? And how would the destination states of internal migration address the labour gap that remained in the wake of the lockdown exodus?

These questions, among others, assume greater significance, especially as the spectre of nativism looms, thanks to recent laws in Jharkhand and Haryana which seek to reserve private sector jobs for locals, with a potential adverse impact on a private sector-led economic recovery in India.

The second part of the eight-part webinar series Thinc Migration by The Indian Express, which will go live today, will address these concerns. Presented by the Omidyar Network India, the discussion by a panel of experts will also examine whether states are able to take care of those who migrate within their own borders. It aims to have a solutions-oriented discussion between some of the brightest minds and thought leaders across academia, industry, civil society and, of course, government

The panelists include Satyajeet Rajan, additional chief secretary (labour and skills), Government of Kerala; Yamini Aiyar, president and chief executive, Centre for Policy Research; Naushad Forbes, co-chairman, Forbes Marshall, Former President, CII and Chairman of Centre for Technology Innovation and Economic Research and Ananta Aspen Centre; Chinmay Tumbe, professor, Indian Institute of Management – Ahmedabad and Priya Deshingkar, professor, University of Sussex. The session will be moderated by Udit Misra, deputy associate editor at The Indian Express.

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