Lt Col L Manongba (Indian Army veteran)
"On 5th July, Education Minister, Shri 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 Govt for this proactive initiative”. Most citizens although are focused 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 & 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 & became force multiplier of some sort to unleash my own war against the boredom of Covid 19.
One has had many musings & 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 3 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 24th July 2020, 6.30 pm, as per State Govt press release, there are 62,015 state natives who have returned home.
A fairly respectable guess will be -
* 70 - 80% 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 Crores to 68 Crores worth of income earned by these youth with their hard work, skills, and diligence.
* They were gainfully engaged in various legal & respectable jobs and activities.
* Age profile of these returnees (youth section) - Students - 12 to 25 Yrs age (approx 20,000) + 23 to 30,000 youth in age group of 25 Yrs to 45 Yrs (Working group).
This is a very Potent, Skilled / Semi-Skilled & Educated youth section who will now have to bank upon the initiatives taken by the state govt. Add to this the 'very imaginative nature' of the state's youth which has tremendous potential to contribute constructively & positively to the state and country.
The state Govt and State Labour Minister Dr Th Radheshyam (also the Education minister) have taken a great & welcome initiative in this very crucial aspect.
"On 5th July, the minister, Shri 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)
The Govt & Think Tanks of the state & citizens need to and MUST GRASP this WONDERFUL OPPORTUNITY. These are very crucial & 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 & away from the comforts of their 'Home & 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 ‘Pride of Plenty’. The facts and figures say otherwise. The 2020-21 state Govt budget presentation extracts are as follows –
Revenue Receipts State Tax Revenue - 1324.65 Cr (7% of State RR)
State Non Tax Revenue - 256.62 (1% of State RR)
Share Central Tax - 5630.42 Cr (31% of State RR)
Grant in Aid from Centre - 10,871.47 Cr (60% 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 Cr annually = 4.5% of State Tax Revenue / 23% 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 Govt 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 & wonderful initiative taken by the state Govt and Education & Labour Minister Shri Th. Radheshyam is able to continue on a positive & 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 & 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 & qualities of our youth must not be allowed to lapse into emptiness & 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 Govt and responsible citizens will continue with these positive actions as being done until now.
The author is president, Tri Services Ex-Servicemen Welfare Association, Manipur (TSEWA - Manipur) & general secretary, Armed Forces Ex-Servicemen Association Manipur (AFESAM). The contents are personal reflections. He can be contacted at mail ID - [email protected]