Despite facing acute hardships, an overwhelming majority of rural Indians and almost half the migrant workers have expressed satisfaction over how Prime Minister Modi has handled the coronavirus crisis. A nationwide survey by media platform Gaon Connection released on Monday revealed that 74 per cent rural Indians and 50 per cent migrant workers said the Modi government cared both for the cities and villages.
A total of 25,300 respondents in 179 districts across 20 states and union territories were interviewed between May 30 and July 16, 2020, during the survey and according to Goan connection, mostly all of them who were interviewed were the breadwinners of their households.
The survey findings which has been put together in a form of a report named The Rural Report by Gaon Connection revealed that the lockdown imposed by the central government to control the spread of the deadly pathogen doesn’t seem to have adversely impacted the perception of rural citizens about the Modi government at the Centre, or the governments in the states on the whole.
“For instance, on being asked whether the Modi government’s attitude towards migrant workers during the lockdown had been good or bad, 73 per cent or over seven out of ten respondents interviewed in rural areas of the country said it had been good (29 per cent said very good and 44 per cent rated it as good),” the Gaon Connection said.
It also found that 71 per cent ration card-owning households said they received wheat or rice from the government during the lockdown.
Despite the hardships faced, the Goan connection survey found that almost 33 per cent out of the total number of migrant workers interviewed said that they would like to return to work in the cities.
The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc across the country. With workplaces shutting down due to the lockdown imposed to control the spread of the pathogen, many migrant workers had to deal with the loss of income, food shortages and uncertainty about their future. Conservative estimates by research scholars put the number of migrant works affected by the lockdown to be anywhere between 20 million and 22 million.
The survey revealed that 23 per cent of migrant workers returned home walking during the lockdown, 18 per cent by bus, and 12 per cent of them by train. Since, due to the nationwide lockdown, all transport modes were shut, the desperate migrant labourers were left with no option but to walk down-home.
Modi government started Shramik trains to facilitate the return of the migrant labourers to their home states
To deal with this crisis and facilitate the return of the migrant labourers back to their home state, the Modi government had started Shramik trains.
Lakhs of migrant labourers have been transported back to their home states in special Shramik Trains that have been started by the Government of India. Official data revealed that the Railways spent Rs 2,142 crore on running Shramik Special trains for ferrying stranded migrant workers home during the coronavirus lockdown, but earned a revenue of just Rs 429 crore.
Meanwhile, the survey conducted by the media houe, Goan connection said that bout 40 per cent of this workforce faced food scarcity during its journey back home, while it said that 12 per cent were reportedly beaten by the police.
Interestingly, majority of the migrant workers (36 per cent) claimed they returned to the villages due to the fear of contracting the coronavirus, and 29 per cent said they returned since they had no money to survive in the cities.
Prime Minister Modi launched Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan to help provide jobs to migrant workers
Aware of the adversities the poor had to face due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Narendra Modi govt had launched the Rs 50000 crore ‘Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan’ to create rural infrastructure and provide jobs to returned migrant workers.
“So far, migrants were helping to build the cities. Now, they will get jobs near their homes. Till now, you were assisting in the development of cities. From now onwards, you will help in the development of your villages, your neighborhoods,” PM Modi had said when he launched the scheme on June 20.
The scheme aims to empower unemployed migrant workers by providing them with employment for 125 days with a resource envelope of Rs 50,000 crore.