Steered with the exodus of millions of migrant labours amid the Covid-19 lockdown, Niti Aayog has prepared a draft national policy on labour.

Seasoned market analyst and serial entrepreneur, Deepak Talwar has called the initiative of the government to formulate a final solution to the migrant labourers’ problem historic and the one which is going to boost the development of the nation. Recently, Niti Aayog along with the Working Group constituting civil servants and the members of the civil society has prepared a draft policy on migrants. Although there has been a long-pending demand on the issue, the migration of an estimation of over 10 million workers back to their native place during the national lockdown fostered the process. 

“This is not just a policy it’s a regime change. Commonly, migrant labourers were seen as the problem and it was reflected very clearly in the regulatory legislation. This time, the draft had identified our migrant workers as the catalyst to development. They have recognised that movement from agriculture to services and manufacturing is a positive sign which indicates growth. Hence, the migration is not a problem but challenges they face in the host states are,” he said. 

At present, The Inter-State Migrant Workers Act, 1979 protects labourers from contractors by safeguarding their interests. However, it left independent migrants only covering workers migrating through a contractor. Today, when the size of the Indian unorganised sector is mammoth, with millions of workers employed, it becomes imperative for the government to bring an umbrella policy covering all sorts of migrants. 

Noting the urgency arising out of the pandemic, Niti Aayog’s draft policy not only protects labourers from exploitation but “enhances the agency and capability of the community and thereby remove aspects that come in the way of an individual’s own natural ability to thrive.”

“As the draft acknowledged migration integral to development, it proposed to work in the direction of facilitating internal migration. This approach is a game-changer. When this policy will be finalised, this approach will not only provide our workers social protection, but an environment to flourish and live their lives to the fullest. This policy will bring social and economic justice to millions of disadvantaged and vulnerable people of our society,” Deepak Talwar said. 

Talwar said that the draft’s call for constituting inter-state migration management offices is the need of the time. “With millions of people migrating from one state to another, unaware of the local languages and other things, labour officer from their home state will help them resolve issues rapidly.” He also applauded the recommendation to resolve the problem of migrant children’s education by mapping them and providing education in native languages. 

With over several decades of experience, Deepak Talwar is a leading global corporate lobbyist. He is known for raising his voice for underprivileged and vulnerable sections of society. 


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