The COVID-19 pandemic brought with it many challenges for India and countries around the world. Even as we tried to secure the country from this disease, the livelihoods of many unorganized and migrant workers were lost. Migrant workers in India—mostly comprising daily wage labourers working in manufacturing and construction industries, and those engaged in agriculture, retail and services—are one such group that was adversely aﬀected.
The spirit of moving ahead even in the face of diversities has led India to opportunities even in adverse conditions. In this context, several initiatives were taken by the states to manage the migrant workers’ movements. Workers were to be provided with alternative sources of food, shelter and livelihood.
Technology has played a critical role in these initiatives, showing how data of a large number of workers and their families can be collated and used for mapping of skill, to provide access to shelter, food and other social security measures. These initiatives have had a focus on social inclusion and women empowerment, helping several women learn new skills, form self-help groups and start their own enterprises.
This list of best practices from across states is a glimpse into the massive and relentless exercise undertaken to address grave challenges in the wake of the covid-19 pandemic.
- The Central Government undertook initiatives for creating jobs at the local level and supporting migrant workers through Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana, Aatmanirbhar Bharat Yojana and Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Rozgar Abhiyaan.
- Uttar Pradesh’s Sewa Mitra application uses a multi-dimensional approach—it leverages technology and brick-and-mortar institutions—to collect data on workers and provide them meaningful employment.
- In the Aspirational District of Fatehpur, a group of local students and professionals developed a mobile application to help local residents get access to items of daily use as per their need. Shopkeepers with permits were registered and delivered essential goods to residents.
- Maharashtra government’s Mahajobs portal seeks to link all job seekers, locals, migrants, and entrepreneurs by reducing the gap between demand and supply of manpower in diﬀerent skills, enabling industries to function seamlessly, and creating a permanent system for industries in the state to get suitable local workers.
- Around 4500 migrant workers stranded in the state’s Buldhana district during the lockdown in April and May, were supported through an initiative called Operation Dignity, which provided safe shelter, medical check-ups, counseling sessions and smooth transportation to their hometowns and villages.
- Returning migrants in Bihar were registered on the state’s disaster management portal, based on which benefts were provided under various state schemes to dependants of unorganized sector labourers and migrant workers who succumbed to Covid-19.
- To address the issue of livelihood generation, the Aurangabad District Administration constituted a project team ‘Mission Employment Aurangabad’. Under this, the district authorities, after registration and skill mapping of the returned migrants, set output- and outcome-based targets to provide employment opportunities according to people’s skill sets.
- The District Administration of Katihar in Bihar set up Jeevika Yuva Paramarsh Sah Sansadhan Kendra (JYPSSK) to support migrant workers.
- In the state of Jharkhand, the State Control Room located its stranded migrant population, registered them, and provided them with the required aid to weather the immediate crises of food,
shelter, rent and other problems.
- Also, three schemes—Birsa Harit Gram Yojana to use fallow unused government land for aﬀorestation; Neelambar Pitambar Jal Sammridhi Yojana for water conservation; and Poto Ho Khel Vikas for making playgrounds—to boost rural employment were implemented.
- Employers and employment suppliers can register themselves on Madhya Pradesh’s Rojgar Setu portal to search for eligible employees among the data of migrant workers uploaded by the district administration. The portal also monitors the provision of ration to families of migrant labourers under the National Food Safety Act and Aatmanirbhar Bharat. The state also enrolls the children of migrant workers in schools.
- Among the various initiatives undertaken by the Karnataka government, noteworthy are its Dasoha portal for taking food requests of migrants and registering construction workers; the Seva Sindhu portal for providing transportation to migrant labourers to other states; and Kaushalkar.com for skill mapping, assessing training needs and employment.
- The Odisha government implemented in all its 114 urban local bodies, the Urban Wage Employment Initiative, which is focused on generating opportunities in the felds of rain-water harvesting, sanitation, community centre and open space development, increasing green cover and
beautifying urban areas.
- Cuttack district launched Lakshmi (Livelihood Advancement through Knowledge Self-help and Modern Initiative), focused on self- and wage employment. Job drives were conducted to recruit workers in construction projects, railways and infrastructure development.
- The Raj-Kaushal: Rajasthan Labour Employment Exchange portal not only has a vast database of skilled, semi-skilled, and unskilled workers, but also information on various employers registered as establishment, factory, industry, company in the state.
- The Government of Andhra Pradesh implemented ‘mahila prangnams’ for skilling women. Entrepreneurship and awareness camps were held to enable women entrepreneurs to build the foundation and understand the basics of handling day-to-today business activities, with support
from government facilities and International Labour Organization (ILO) programmes.