With 30 lakh migrant workers expected to reach Uttar Pradesh, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has chalked out a strategy that will transform the huge challenge into an opportunity. It revolves around training and skilling the massive workforce and deploying them in the industrial units that UP hopes to be set up.
The newly liberalized labor rules in the state are likely to facilitate investment. Adityanath’s approach has been moral and pragmatic instead of political and sentimental. Moral because it is not intended to derive political benefits by shedding crocodile tears for the unfortunate laborers who have lost livelihoods. And pragmatic because it is based on the age-old wisdom: Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
He treats the workers with dignity they deserve; he doesn’t pity them, hand over doles, and treat them as a vote bank. Though an ascetic, Yogi has considerable experience in politics, having represented Gorakhpur in the Lok Sabha five times. Besides, he also has experience of public service; being chief priest of Gorakhnath Math, he has presided over extensive social welfare work. The state administration has started skill mapping of the workers who have come back as to understand the job requirements in different sectors.
It has constituted a high-level commission, the Kaamgar, Shramik (Seva Ayojan and Rojgaar) Kalyan Ayog, to employ the people. In first phase, the 'skill mapping' of 16 lakh workers has been completed. The Department of Revenue is creating a database of migrants’ skills. The Department of Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) will work on the task of providing them jobs. A UP government press release said, "The government will give all the facilities including shops at a lower rate and electricity, water, sewerage to the buildings for providing jobs and shelter to workers.”
Priority of the government will be to arrange employment through employment office at district level through skilling of workers, it further said. “The government will provide help in arranging residential facilities for those working outside the district. Government buildings and government land will also be identified for shops.” As of now, 26 lakh migrant workers have returned to their homes in Uttar Pradesh. They are being quarantined and given food kit along with help in the preparation of ration card.
Over and above this, financial assistance of Rs 1,000 is also being provided. The state administration, while dumping the archaic labor laws, has not abandoned the interests of workers. It has decided to provide insurance cover to this vast workforce; steps are also being taken to bring them under a social security net.
These workers can be engaged to build the already under construction or announced expressways like Ganga expressway beginning from Meerut to Prayagraj. A large number of workers can be giving work in the execution of the ambitious defence corridor. The state government will also play a major role in providing financial help to these workers through banks and NBFCs to those who want to start their own business.
(The author, formerly Senior Assistant Editor with The Times Of India<em>, is an Assistant Professor, Gorakhpur University. The views are personal).