The homecoming and the real war after the battle is won

Till July 24, 2020, 6.30 pm, as per state government press release, there are 62,015 state natives who have returned home.

 

"On July 5,Manipur Education Minister Th Radheshyam launched a website developed for online data collection of skills/work experience of the COVID-19 returnees of the state. It was indeed a welcome step towards the rehabilitation of our people who were otherwise employed in various capacities in different cities of the country." (Quote IFP - https://ifp.co.in/mapping-skills-and-jobs)

This is one of the positive and heartening news in these tense COVID-19 days. One may generously say – “Kudos to the Government for this proactive initiative”. Most citizens though are focussed on - 'How to keep themselves free' of the dreaded virus wandering in town.  

As a responsible senior citizen who spent 125 days under self-imposed strict home quarantine, one had all the time in the world to ponder, mull-on, and write musings on things not very mundane. The laptop and galaxy tablet became one’s new arsenals of choice. The thousands of kilobytes on the uninterrupted internet connections (though with a sharp pinch on my pocket!) enhanced my mental calibre and became force multiplier of some sort to unleash my own war against the boredom of COVID-19.

One has had many musings and reflections in these days of special meditation.  However, one thought that troubled the mind has been - "What happens to these 65,000 odd returnees after three months of idling at home. What occurs after the euphoria of victory having reached sweet home after gruelling journey subsides; what happens after one gets gripped in the vice-like grip of reality - of joblessness, leading to desperation!"

These were the fear - The aftermath of COVID -19 struggles. One wouldn't dare think of beyond the state's affairs in this subject.

Till July 24, 2020, 6.30 pm, as per state government press release, there are 62,015 state natives who have returned home.

A fairly respectable guess will be -

- 70 - 80 per cent of these will be young boys and girls (youth) students of schools and colleges / engaged in various jobs outside the state in all parts of the country.

- They would have been earning between Rs 15,000/- to 30,000/- per month on an average.

- This would have made the sizeable section of youth (23 - 30,000) as “self- propelling' if not self-sufficient.

- In terms of figures that would be (less the students) - 25,000 to 30,000 returnees (workforce - skilled / semi-skilled) X Rs 22500/- (mean income) = Rs. 52 crore to 68 crores worth of income earned by these youth with their hard work, skills, and diligence.

- They were gainfully engaged in various legal and respectable jobs and activities.

- Age profile of these returnees (youth section) - students - 12 to 25 years age (approx 20,000) + 23 to 30,000 youth in age group of 25 year to 45 year (Working group).

This is a very potent, skilled/semi-skilled and educated youth section who will now have to bank upon the initiatives taken by the state government. Add to this, the 'very imaginative nature' of the state's youth which has tremendous potential to contribute constructively and positively to the state and country.

The state government and state Labour Minister Th Radheshyam (also the education minister) have taken a great and welcome initiative in this very crucial aspect.

The government and think tanks of the state and citizens need to and must grasp this wonderful oppoturnity. These are very crucial and important databases, which COVID -19 has thrown up above the cacophony of fear and paranoia in our society. Today one can know exactly,

- Who all, How many, What age profile, Which preferred states, What job profiles etc.did our youth go out for.

- Why these boys and girls journeyed out and away from the comforts of their 'home and hearth’ is well known to all and are well documented. That is the darker past and part of our tiny state.

The state natives thrive on a ‘prride of plenty’. The facts and figures say otherwise. The 2020-21 state government budget presentation extracts are as follows –

  • Revenue Receipts State Tax Revenue - 1324.65 Cr (7 per cent of state RR)
  • State Non Tax Revenue - 256.62 (1 per cent of state RR)
  • Share Central Tax - 5630.42 Cr (31 per cent of state RR)
  • Grant in Aid from Centre - 10,871.47 Cr (60 per cent of state RR)

If we may add to this, the abstract/approx figure of -

  • 25,000 to 30,000 working/gainfully engaged returnees’ income, i.e. 50 to 60 crore annually = 4.5 per cent of State Tax Revenue/23 per cent of State Non Tax Revenue.
  • These boys and girls of the state need to find equivalent of what they were earning Pre COVID-19. That is the challenge for all. That is what the state government has to focus on, once they have been able to tackle the Covid Battle.  
  • That is the real war after the battle is won.

If the current and wonderful initiative taken by the state government and Education and Labour Minister Th Radheshyam is able to continue on a positive and uninterrupted note, we can be sure that the future of the youth of this state is secured. We can then hope for a brighter future for our youth. These young minds of the state are very imaginative, energetic, independent, highly-skilled and are very adaptive.

In the same breath, it won't be entirely wrong to caution those concerned with the true welfare of the state and nation that, these positive attributes and qualities of our youth must not be allowed to lapse into emptiness and void.

Letting it fall into an abyss would be a grave danger. Getting out of that bottomless pit would be even more difficult. Lest the darker past will try and cast its nightmarish shadows all over. One would wish the state government and responsible citizens will continue with these positive actions as being done until now.  

(The views expressed are the writer's own) 

First Published:July 26, 2020, 12:57 p.m.

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