Chinese Wuhan Corona Virus had literally brought India to the halt. Now slowly India is opening up after nearly three months of lockdown. We had to open up, even though India daily cases in the country are scaling new highs because as a middle income, and developing country we can’t afford an extended lockdown, which would lead to permanent job losses and deaths, by poverty and hunger.
Even the current lockdown brought difficult days for many people from both formal and informal sectors, with many losing jobs, many others taking salary cuts. However slowly things are coming back to the normal. According to some reports, the rate of unemployment is back to what it was pre lockdown.
During this crisis, poor migrants suffered a lot. Even home minister Amit Shah admitted to it. Why did it happen? It was because of lack of data. No government in India, be it central or state or local body, has any kind of data with regards to employment and migrants. NSSO surveys are backed by solid on ground research but yet it is a sample survey. A sample survey with a few thousand or even a few lakhs respondents can’t give an exact picture of a diverse and large country like India. Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his interview to Swarajya before 2019 general elections had said, “more than a lack of jobs, the issue is a lack of data on jobs”.
In another TV interview of his before elections, pardon me, I don’t remember which channel it was, PM Narendra Modi on the question of repeated allegations by opposition on employment issue, had given a hint about bringing more transparent, and real-time data on employment in the country. Without elaborating, he had said, it is a work in progress, and this should be up and running, in a year after elections. A year has already passed after the elections, however given the circumstances of the last few months, it is understandable that the system is not yet functional.
However, PM Modi now should instruct concerned ministry, and officials to fast track this work, and get this system started in next few months, because going forward, attacks on this government by opposition on the employment front are only going to increase. Corona Virus has created large scale unemployment and even though things start showing turn around, our opposition leaders would definitely not be willing to listen to the government. Only way to shut them up would be transparent, and real time data which PM Narendra Modi had promised before elections. Even then, there are high chances that the opposition will call it a manipulated and fake data, however the general public which is most important in democracy, and which makes, and breaks government will believe it. Transparency and availability of data was a big hallmark of Narendra Modi 1.0 government, with various information available on dashboard and a click of a button, similarly this would be a game changing achievement for Narendra Modi 2.0.
I am sure that officials working on it are much experienced and know many things better, but I would still like to give them unsolicited advice. Integrate data of migrants in this system, learning from the experience of lockdown and migrants issues faced during these testing times of Corona Virus. It would help the government plan and act much faster and better in future, whenever the country sees such difficult times again.
(About the author: This article is written by Keshav, a media graduate, who left journalism for an alternative career. Traveler, Aviation Enthusiast. Indian, Marwari, Marathi in that order)