Returning workers can bring prosperity to rural areas: analysis
We have treated our migrant workers abominably. With no money to pay rent or buy food, these workers had no choice but to start walking back to their villages. Will they return to work in the cities that treated them so cruelly? Hard to say, but for now, at least, they are likely to stay with their families and make do with whatever they have.
This tragedy is both humanitarian and economic. Workers have not only lost their livelihoods, they are now also looking to an uncertain future. Will the economy recover quickly enough to absorb them again? Long waiting and inaction periods will come at a cost. Some of these people are unskilled labor, but many are skilled or semi-skilled. Large-scale desk work could be done if they can’t find work quickly because their skills will begin to rust and decline if not used.
One way to solve this mess is to empower rural businesses that provide jobs and income opportunities in the villages. They will complete the inequalities between rural and urban India, and will become a growth engine where it is most needed. The skilled workforce that has returned home will raise the standards of such companies, and the workforce will find work close to home. The negligence and injustice imposed on villagers in India’s development history can finally begin to be resolved. The crisis can have a positive result if we are able to turn current adversity into an opportunity for equitable and inclusive growth.
There is a great model that we can follow to establish rural industries: the China Municipality and the Village Enterprises (TVE). It was based on adding value in the agricultural sector and rural subsidiary production. It began with reforms in 1978 when the country invested in increasing agricultural production, agricultural mechanization and the liberalization of rural markets. This helped initiate economic initiatives in small towns and cities. These companies were called TVE and became the basis for China’s formidable economic growth.
As agricultural production increased, TVEs absorbed surplus labor freed from traditional agriculture, created jobs in villages, and increased incomes for farmers and rural citizens. Once farmers established viable agriculture-based TVEs, they began to expand to other industrial sectors and services. This diversification and growth of rural industrialization was encouraged by the government. As a result, the value of TVE production increased dramatically, helping to absorb nearly 30% of China’s rural workforce. By 1996, these rural companies represented almost 50% of the country’s exports.
Despite their incredible success, they fell into abrupt decline after 1996. The reason was simple: the wave of privatizations that overtook China as a prelude to its rise in industrialization. But, by then, it had created the conditions for impressive economic success for the country.
Our migrant workers were employed in various manufacturing and service sectors, such as hospitality, automotive, textiles and clothing, packaging, and construction. Many of them have specialized training and experience. They can be the foundation on which to build a rural industrial base.
Rural companies will have significant advantages. They can compete with multinational products that are shipped to rural areas. Mofussil villages and towns have market opportunities, and rural businesses can effectively meet the consumer demands of farmers and other rural citizens. Once rural incomes begin to rise, with efficient and diversified agricultural and horticultural production freed from the tyranny of obstructive policies such as the Farm Products Market Committee Act and the Commodities Act, a phenomenon similar to TVE will open many more sectors for rural areas. businessmen
Suman Sahai is a scientist and president of the Genetic Campaign.
The opinions expressed are personal.