One of the biggest problems our country faced during this corona crisis was of migrant laborers. Many states were just clueless and had no definite strategy to fight corona crisis and this migrant labourers crisis at same time. They were busy in implementing lockdown, ensuring better healthcare system and feeding homeless and jobless poor people. Much like a war at multiple fronts. Some successfully dealt with this and are still dealing with it. Some have failed miserably, Maharashtra and Delhi to name a few. (Remember the crowd gathered at Bandra railway station and Delhi- Uttar Pradesh border). But, now as we are lifting lockdown or unlocking,we should realise that for many states this migrants problem was a huge intelligence failure and having absolutely no or insufficient data was responsible for this.
Many questions were rising during this migrants crisis. Some of them were:
1. When many NGO’s, RSS and Government is providing them food and ration then why are they leaving for their native place?
Answer to this question is: The reason because of which even after getting food and ration for free in cities, Migrants wanted to go home is, They don’t get social security in cities, They don’t feel attached to cities or they don’t have sense of belonging with the cities they live in. One of the reason for this might be the fact that State Governments of this so called developed states don’t treat them same as native people. They are always treated like outsiders by the State Governments. One of the reason is that even essential commodities are much costlier in cities than in villages or less developed states. So, They must have thought returning back to their homes as a better option.
2. When Government is arranging Shramik trains then why are they walking to reach to their native place?
Answer to this question is : One of the reasons why many migrants started walking besides highways to reach their villages might be the fact that instead of helping them in this crisis opposition parties were busy in creating confusion about train tickets and many other issues. Congress Governments have handled so many natural calamities till now but it was very immature and illogical for India’s biggest political party to announce that they are going to pay for migrants train tickets when 85% amount of one train ticket was paid by Central Government while rest of the 15% amount was paid by respective State Governments.
How should we collect data to avoid this blunder next time:
When this migrants reach their native state, they need to spend some days in institutional quarantine. We can utilize this time to collect as much data as we can. We should collect basic information like name, age, gender, occupation, address but also information about their health condition, medical history, about current status of their job, information regarding health insurance, eating habits etc. Some states like Uttar Pradesh have already started collecting data of migrants who came back and is also looking forward to provide them job opportunities in Uttar Pradesh itself.
Though all states can’t be totally self centred and some migrants will surely return to their “Karmabhoomi” after this corona crisis lessens. So, Basically what we really need is real time data base of migrants or rather all skilled unskilled workers in our country.
How this data can be used effectively
It is believed that value of data is more than value of money in today’s world. This data can be used for analysis and drawing different conclusions from this data and when we have data in such huge amount, There will be no end to drawing different conclusions.
We can represent this whole data on maps and we will get to know in which part of the country migrants with a particular skill live in more numbers. We can form special industrial clusters in this area with the help of this data. We have to be ready for the fact that some migrants may never return to cities and many employers may face a workforce scarcity problem. If we have real time data base of all migrants or rather skilled workers of our country then we can open a single window for employers where they can register their demand and then State/Central Government can supply accordingly.
This real time data base can be extremely useful at the time of war. If we know the exact number of workers we have in our country, It can give us some extra advantage over countries like Pakistan where data is highly unorganised.
All this data can be very useful to provide social security to the migrants. Health insurance and good medical care can be provided to them with the help of this data.
Most importantly, real time database will be extremely useful in next crisis. Whether it’s flood, draught, earthquake or a locust attack. We will know exact amount of ration required, number of hospital beds required etc.
Challenges we will have to tackle:
Of course, there will be many challenges, Ensuring cyber security of this data base is a big challenge but we have best of engineers, programmers and data managers in our country who are able to deal with this problem.
Updating this data base continuously is also going to be a big challenge. We will have to use best of technology available for this. Data is generated every moment in this country. Proper storage and analysis of data can do wondors. By this way, We can convert this migrants crisis into an opportunity.