Workforce migration is universal phenomenon related with evolution of the community living and human civilization in pursuit of biological, physiological, safety, social, economic and developmental needs. The current phase of corona pandemic induced lockdown has seen the reverse migration in favour of safety and physiological needs. This migration is basically related to unskilled and semi-skilled workforce, which has acquired experience, skill and entrepreneurship over a period of time. Uttar Pradesh has projected such reverse migration close to fifty lack workforce, which has created immediate challenges in the form of logistic management, quarantine and medical facilities coupled with arrangement for food grains and direct benefit cash transfer. This phase on challenge is getting normalised with each passing day except on the front of rising cases of corona infection though its pace has been reduced despite increased daily corona infection medical tests. This reverse migration has adversely impacted their employment opportunities and income levels in the existing economic framework.
Despite all these immediate concerns, this work force has brought with it the reservoir of experience, skill and entrepreneurship, which can be commercially exploited for economic development of the state and the country. During the last three years, various infrastructural and developmental projects have been launched in Uttar Pradesh for faster economic development, which can be grouped in four categories:
III-Defence Industrial Corridor Project
IV-One District One Product Project
VI- Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan
I-Irrigation Project: Uttar Pradesh has fast tracked the various irrigation projects of the state for increasing the irrigation potential of the state for boosting the agriculture production. The long pending projects Saryu Canal, Arjun Sahayak Canal and Madhya Ganga Canal under Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sichai Yojana for ensuring protective irrigation, which will cover approximately sixteen lac hectare cultivable land. The Saryu canal will benefit Purvanchal and Arjun Sahayak canal will promote irrigation potential in Bundelkhand region whereas Madhya Ganga canal will benefit western part of Uttar Pradesh.
II-Expressway Projects: Uttar Pradesh has seen massive networking of Expressways in the State for supporting agriculture, horticulture and industrial development of the state. The major projects are Ganga Expressway of more than one thousand kilometres connecting eastern Uttar Pradesh with Western Uttar Pradesh and national capital region, Bundelkhand Expressway of about three hundred kilometres connecting the Bundelkhand region with national capital region through Lucknow- Agra Expressway, Purvanchal Expressway of more than three hundred fifty kilometres connecting eastern Uttar Pradesh with Lucknow. Apart from these mega projects, smaller projects such as Prayagraj link expressway and Gorakhpur link expressway have also been launched to provide seamless connectivity across the state and national capital region. The implementation of these projects is in advanced stage.
III-Defence Industrial Corridor Project: The mega defence industrial projects have been launched for developing defence related research and production capabilities of the country with focus on defence related export. Two defence industrial corridors have been identified in the states of Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh. Uttar Pradesh will be having six nodes in Aligarh, Agra, Jhansi, Chitrakoot, Kanpur and Lucknow. This corridor will have large industrial unit with good number of ancillary and MSME unit in the area. This will not only create the employment opportunities but will lead to overall infrastructural and social development of the state along with economic development.
IV-One District One Product Project: Uttar Pradesh is the vast state in terms of geography, demography and diversified culture. This diversified culture is the source of creativity and craftsmanship. With One District One Product project launched by Government of Uttar Pradesh for developing the special products of every district by providing infrastructural, research, skill, financial and marketing support for mass production of these products for domestic and international market. During the last two years, good amount of ground work has been done and some of the products have already made their presence in the domestic and international markets. The time has now come for scaling up the production for reaping the economies of scale on the larger scale by developing the mass production and export excellence clusters.
V-Aspirational Districts: Government of India has launched the massive programme for development of underdeveloped districts of the country known as aspirational districts since 2018. There are 115 districts across the country with Uttar Pradesh having eight districts in its fold. Government of India has launched various skill, infrastructural and developmental initiatives in these districts for their faster economic development.
VI- Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan: Government of India has launched massive drive for Atma Nirbhar Bharat, which has been started in 116 districts of the country having concentration of migratory workers. The scheme launched by Uttar Pradesh Government in the name of “Uttar Pradesh Atma Nirbhar Rojgar Abhiyan” was inaugurated By Hon’ble Prime Minister and is likely to cover 31 districts of the state for employment and skill development programme with a view to boost rural infrastructure and mass production facilities in such districts by using locally available raw material and manpower.
The lockdown induced crisis is getting normalised with increased diagnostic and medical facilities leading to improved recovery rates. Despite being the largest state in terms of population, identified corona active cases are less than four thousand, which speaks volumes about the management capabilities of the state government. With “Mission Begin Again”, which started from 1st June 2020, the state has launched various initiatives for revival of the economy. The returning migratory labour force has added to our existing labour force, which is reservoir of experience, entrepreneurship and skill and can be instrumental in the revival of economy of the state.
To tide over the hardships faced by the citizens in general and migratory workforce in particular, various schemes of Direct Benefit Transfer and free supply of food grains have been implemented ranging for a period of three to six months. This crisis has also highlighted the miseries of unskilled and semi-skilled migratory work force across the country, therefore it is high time for the central government to formulate national level umbrella policy enabling the state governments to formulate state specific policies as labour laws are part of concurrent list. The emphasis should be on Aadhar enables compulsory registration of the migratory workforce with universal coverage under social security schemes.
The Government of Uttar Pradesh is focussing on all round development of the state by focussing on irrigation, expressways for seamless connectivity, defence corridor for medium and large scale industries, one district one product for developing decentralised production facilities across the state by developing small and micro enterprises. The Government, at this juncture, must undertake skill profiling of the returning migratory workforce for assimilating them in the developmental process of the state in a comprehensive and balanced manner with increased outlay on employment generating activities by fast tracing various developmental projects in synchronised manner. The post corona world is going to witness the new normal for the individuals, societies and the governments in managing their social and economic requirements and challenges, which will also create the wide ranging and far reaching ripple effect changes with relation to economic activities.
Good amount of work has been undertaken at the field level for implementation of the infrastructural and developmental projects in the state. This, therefore, is the high time for formulation of integrated growth strategy for the overall economic development of the state by proactively capitalising on the economies of the scale and scope generated through the high impact projects launched by the government during the last two to three years with increased focus on creation of employment opportunities on massive scale. The government can create some clusters of mass production or export excellence for agriculture, micro and small enterprises for faster growth of the economy, which will be employment intensive in nature with lowest per capita investment.
Uttar Pradesh has tremendous potential and can become the frontrunner in launching the sustainable economic growth model in post corona era to be replicated and followed by other states.