CPPR Chairman Dr D Dhanuraj comments in a article published in The Times of India on the guest workers in Kerala. He comments “This is a golden opportunity to improve their living standards. We can also conduct a survey to assess their exact numbers and other details now. Earlier, they used to move around in search of jobs. But, all of them keep indoors now,”
Migration studies experts believe the time is ripe for a fresh survey to determine the exact number of guest workers in the state, their health and social conditions, and economic activities revolving around them. They are highly mobile, and prior attempts to determine their numbers would have been open to duplication. Now, that the nationwide lockdown has left business establishments shuttered and forced them to stay indoors, better accuracy can be ensured, say experts.
In 2013, Gulati Institute of Finance and Taxation (Gift) conducted a survey which placed their numbers at 25 lakh. “We have to do another survey so as to understand changes in the data. We had projected an increase in their population and as per the survey now there will be around 32 lakh interstate workers. But, we will have to conduct another survey to analyze their total strength, socio-economic conditions, etc,” said D Narayana, director of Gift.
According to experts, ward members or councillors of local bodies and officials with different government departments are visiting camps of guest workers regularly now. “This is a golden opportunity to improve their living standards. We can also conduct a survey to assess their exact numbers and other details now. Earlier, they used to move around in search of jobs. But, all of them keep indoors now,” said Dhanuraj, director of Centre for Public Policy Research (CPPR), an NGO.
Guest workers taking air route
Many guest labourers have been taking flights to their hometowns for vacation.
Till recently, trains were their sole mode of transportation. “However, over the last seven to eight months, there is a trend among guest workers of flying to their homes. They book air tickets four or five months in advance. This helps them secure economy-class tickets at a cost slightly more than first-class AC tickets in trains,” said Sathyaseelan K, proprietor, A K Oasis, Edathala, near Aluva.
This article was published in The Times of India on April 2, 2020. Click here to read