As usual Monday morning, my milkman – Ramlal – rang the doorbell. I opened the door, with his endless smile he poured milk in my container and returned it to me. I know he is an old man from Uttar Pradesh – a state in India, he had gone to his village for sowing in his farm in the fag end of summers. During this time when he was not in Mumbai, his son used to deliver milk.
My milkman is a hardworking person. At this age he cycles about 10 km delivering milk about 25 ltr daily. He comes delivering milk from different places to my home at 6:30 AM, he starts from home at 5 AM. I asked him that day – “Ramlalji after delivering milk what to you do?” I was under an impression he drives auto or mostly remains at home as his son might be working. He said he goes to a catering place and works as cook. I thought he does that only during day, he said in the evening too he works there.
I was surprised, was happy for him that he has some work and is keeping himself busy. However, it made me question Why do so many people migrate to Mumbai or other big cities? In fact I am too an immigrant to Mumbai its been 10+ years I am here. People migrate from UP or Bihar to Mumbai or any other big cities because in their home state they do not find suitable employment. Almost same was the case for me, even if I want to go back to MP (where my parents still live), I would not be able to find a relevant employment opportunity for myself.
Furthermore, I asked myself, why so, cant I go back to MP? Why cant I find relevant work for myself? In my case I don’t see any such company there in MP where my skills can be utilized. Even if I consider starting my owns company I have to come to other big cities for getting work! This is about organized sector, what about Ramlal ji, my milkman? Can he not go back to his village? He is struggling for two square meals in Mumbai. It is so expensive a place e.g you can buy bottle gourd in INR 10 per kg (Indore – by population 14th biggest city of India), we pay as much as INR 60 in Mumbai (prices of July 2016); prices must be far less in a village. Not just my milkman, I have spoken with various auto/taxi drivers in Mumbai, they say the same – if I get work in my hometown, why would I leave everything? Some had told me their monthly financials too – they save as much as INR 3000 a month.
While I was ruminating about these things I asked myself where is the problem? Let us say there is Charm in Mumbai – city of dreams – so many people migrate here. But is it the only reason? Not all come to Mumbai to be another Amitabh Bachchan! Why would a villager who can save only INR 3000 a month want to come here, where he has to living in a 10X10 square feet room with 5 to 8 other people in almost a slum? Many come here because they do not have any work to do in their village. So, what is the role of Government? Well, we can talk at length about Government; in India Govt has 3 basic building blocks – Judiciary, legislators and administrator and so on. I was thinking to concentrate on only one thing when I looked at the situation of Ramlal ji. Point is, even after living in such conditions, spending about 10X extra on food only, they save 3000 which is far better than being in village. Means there in the village or nearby area there is not employment opportunity that can fetch them better returns / savings!
The job of Govt also include creating job opportunities, isnt it? Well, those who think of capitalism may argue entrepreneurship is a solution. Well, after 2008 US Govt has also been looking at a key metric to consider many policy decisions – the unemployment rate. It has become as important or perhaps more important than rate of inflation in the US, isnt it? India is a developing nation, the State and Union Govt has a big responsibility to create job opportunities – mind it, we do not need NREGA (employment Guarantee Scheme). Reasons – a recent case here (you can find many if you search on net) another reason is – our citizen do not necessarily need to just dig holes there may be many people who are educated and need other suitable opportunity to work, isnt it?
The least State Govts can do is – creating employment opportunities in their states, be it UP, Bihar, MP or any other state. How long Ramlal ji (or Aarti Amma) will keep on shuffling between village and Mumbai to just earn two square meals & saving a few thousand rupee?