“Will the city give us work again?”

by Prakash Kumar Sahoo
Cuttack district, Odisha

Bapu and Tapaj are from Kusunda, a village in Cuttack district, Odisha. They both migrated to Bhubaneswar for work, and were employed in the city for the last five years. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, they have returned to Kusunda, wondering what work will they be able to do in the village using the skills they have developed in the city.

Bapu is 25 years old, and was working as a driver with a travel agency in Bhubaneswar. When business slowed down, he returned to his village. “I can’t do physical work or earn as a daily labourer in a paddy field, because I am used to driving,” he says.

Tapaj, who worked at a printing press which is closed right now, is in a similar situation. The owner of the press has said that he will think about paying his employees only after he gets new orders.

Bapu and Tapaj have no idea what their futures look like once the lockdown lifts in Bhubaneswar. Many skilled and semi-skilled labourers who have been working in cities are faced with a similar dilemma. Neither can they do the labour-intensive agricultural or daily wage work in their villages, nor do they have access to livelihood opportunities in cities.

It remains to be seen whether cities will once again open up for these workers.

Prakash Kumar Sahoo is a social work professional, working in the sector for the last 10 years.

Know more: Read about how, post the crisis, we will need to repurpose our rural strategy, focusing on place-based economic opportunities, better services, and rural infrastructure.

Read next

View next

Follow us
Get smart. Sign up for our free weekly newsletter, IDR Edit.

IDR is India’s first independent media platform for the development community.

We publish cutting edge ideas, lessons and insights, written by and for the people working on some of India’s toughest problems. Our job is to make things simple and relevant, so you can do more of what you do, better.

IDR is produced in partnership with Ashoka University’s Centre for Social Impact and Philanthropy.

Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Contact
© 2020 India Development Review    
India Development Review is published by the Forum for Knowledge and Social Impact, a not-for-profit company registered under Section 8 of the Company Act, 2013.
CIN: U93090MH2017NPL296634