Job factors force 2/3rd of migrants to seek future in cities again: Survey

NEW DELHI: A survey of 4,835 households from rural India across 11 states to assess the impact of the lockdown and how the hinterland is unlocking points towards reverse migration, prompted by absence of skilled employment in villages, and is reflected in nearly 2/3rd of migrants having either returned to cities or expressing the wish to do so.
The data shows that of the 1,196 households with migrants who were working in other cities, 74% returned to their villages due to the circumstances arising out of the pandemic and that 29% have already returned to metros. Also 45% of those still in the village think they will move back to the city.
While one-fourth of those back in cities are looking for work, there is better news with a drop in number of people making do with fewer meals and there is evidence that welfare nets are working as 85% accessed the public distribution system, 71% households had LPG (85% through Ujjwala yojana) with many recieving refills. The survey, however, shows only 38% recieved transfers under the PM Kisan scheme.
The survey is a collaborative study by the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (India), Action for Social Advancement, Grameen Sahara, i-Saksham, PRADAN, SAATHI-UP, SeSTA, Seva Mandir and Transform Rural India Foundation with research support from Vikas Anvesh Foundation and Sambodhi.
Noting that welfare measures seem to have reached a considerable section of beneficiaries and unlocking of economy has brought some cheer to the hinterland, the report cautions “distress incidence is still high” and risk of Covid-19 in rural India is rising. It is pointed out that 1 in 4 household thinks that it might need to take their child out of school but perceptions are better than what they were during lockdown.
An earlier round of survey was carried out in April and around 4,200 households are the same. As far as food consumption patterns go, in the first round of survey 50% households said that they were having fewer number meals a day, this time 43% households said so. Also those eating fewer items in meals was 68% in the first survey and it is down to 55% in this round.
Even though a large percentage of the surveyed households have claimed to be eating fewer meals and fewer items, the survey takes note that over two survey rounds the decline reflects “considerable improvement” and points out that lower incidence of buying in the market, 56% compared to 78% in round 1 of the survey, can be attributed to sufficient grains from PDS. The data also shows that more than 80% of returned migrants were engaged mainly in labour work and more than 1/4th of those who returned were still searching for work.
The survey was carried out between June 24 and July 8 across 48 districts in Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Odisha, Rajashtan and Tripura. It is also pointed out that women are experiencing much higher workload with many more rounds required to fetch water and fuelwood due to higher demand in households where migrants have returned.

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