LUCKNOW: Life sometimes springs unfathomable surprises completely upsetting the future plans in no time. Outbreak of COVID-19 and subsequent lockdown has presented many such situations where many dreams for a decent life in big cities have shattered. Lakhs of migrants who had left home for a better life out there are now in a bind with regard to their future.
Having returned home jobless and penniless from all corners of the country in the lockdown, many of these young men are now exploring options to eke out a living.
Those with rural background have some relief as they have joined the family on the farm, but the landless are left to the mercy of fate. “Ghar ki do sookhi roti achchi hain. Ab kabhi bahar jane ka lalach nahi karenge. Pariwar se aage kuchh nahi (It is better to be content with whatever is available at home instead of the greed to earn more in big cities. Nothing is more important than family),” says Sanjay Maurya of Ashakhera village on the outskirts of Lucknow. He was working in Surat in a textile factory. Having studied till Standard XII, Sanjay, son of a small farmer, claims that he had lost the hope of returning home ever in life.
Now he has joined his father, a vegetable grower, in plucking the vegetables and has joined a doorstep delivery chain supplying fresh veggies to big residential societies in the city. “Father is happy as I am here to help him and managing a better sale of vegetables,” he added. “I am satisfied. At least my old parents are in front of my eyes. I shall now focus on growing vegetables and help father in ensuring sale,” he further said.
Anubhav Shukla, 29, of Barabanki, has a different story to tell. Having studied till class XI, Anubhav had been working as waiter in a restaurant in Amritsar “I used to earn 10,000-12,000 per month before the lockdown. “But as the restaurant was closed during the pandemic, I had to leave and the owner did not even bother to pay the salary of March,” says Anubhav. Now he has joined his father in mint farming.
In other districts of the state, migrants are back to their roots. They are exploring the options of growing crops which need short duration to be ready. In many districts like Auraiyya, the farmers are finished with the harvesting of Rabi crops and they have left the fields open at least for two months before commencing Kharif sowing. In such a scenario, the migrants who have returned are using that land as sharecroppers and growing short term crops such as pulses – Moong and Urad – which take around 50 days to ripe.
In June, they hope to get a crop of pulses and prepare the field for Kharif sowing. Elsewhere at Purva in Auraiyya, Yogendra Singh and Ramkumar are using the same tactic to make immediate money. Both are using their small pieces of land to grow pulses. While Yogendra was working in Kanpur tannery which closed down in lockdown, Ramkumar returned home after the bangle factory in Firozabad where he was working in, was shut.
According to Dr Sandeep Singh of Agriculture Research Centre, the idea of getting the crop in around 50 days has come as a breather to those migrants who were sitting idle penniless.
Meanwhile, the state government has assured that it will create jobs for migrants in different sectors. As per Additional Chief Secretary, home, Awanish Kumar Awasthi, arrangements were being made to provide jobs to 20 lakh migrant workers in UP. “We are preparing a database of migrant workers based on their skills. Around 20 lakh such workers will be given jobs in UP as per their skills,” he said.