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The migrant workers who never went back

Scroll, India, 15 September 2021 - They wanted to work, even as the number of women in India’s workforce fell. But a national upheaval crushed Jharkhand women’s dreams of new lives in Tamil Nadu.

Simran Oraon has no regrets about the day she ran away from her home in Jharkhand all the way to Tamil Nadu.

It was mid-April 2019, a few days after she had finished a two-month tailoring course at a skills training institute in Gumla, a town and district in Jharkhand. Simran was 18 at the time, a petite young woman with big dreams and a yearning for adventure beyond her village of Bero in neighbouring Ranchi district.

The year before, she had grudgingly obeyed her father when he asked her to drop out of Class 12 to work on their five-acre paddy and fodder farms. Agriculture was not very profitable, and she knew her parents needed her labour.

“But I hated it,” said Simran, her voice soft and musical despite her vehemence. “I never wanted to be a farmer. I wanted to stand on my own feet, earn lots of money.”

In February 2019, a friend told Simran about a tailoring course run under the Saksham Jharkhand Kaushal Vikas Yojana, a state-level skill development scheme for youth. Since it was a free course, Simran’s parents reluctantly agreed to let her sign up and live in a hostel in Gumla for two months. At the end of it, they assumed they would be able to invest in a sewing machine so that Simran could run a tailoring business from home.

“But we did not have enough voltage to run a machine,” said Simran. “And the training centre was offering jobs in Tamil Nadu, real jobs that could pay Rs 15,000 per month.”

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Source: https://scroll.in/article/1005372/the-migrant-workers-who-never-went-back

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