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Work for return of migrant workers

The Economic Times, India, 5 April 2020 - Migrant workers, caught between lockdown and starvation, have tried to flee back home, and many have been sheltered in temporary camps en route. Once the lockdown is lifted, would the workers all return to their places of work? Population experts quoted in a story in this paper on Saturday on likely worker shortage after the lockdown ( speculate that these migrants could well re-evaluate the viability of working far away from home. If workers do not return in large numbers, completion of the Rabi harvest, commencing of Kharif planting and industrial production in India’s major manufacturing hubs would be hit. The workers must be persuaded to return.

Only resolute action, ranging from cash transfers in the near term to boosting the supply of rental housing in the medium term, can provide them a sense of security needed to respond positively to the call to return to work. The government must immediately transfer cash to migrants — both those who have returned home and those sheltered in camps midway. The technology that mobile phone networks have to create bank accounts for every subscriber should be deployed for the purpose. Publicise individual entitlements, transfer extra, with the request to share with those without phones or phones that have run out of charge.



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