Two special trains from Bangalore pulled into the Guwahati station on Saturday, bringing 5,000 youths of the northeast from different parts of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
Leaving their jobs and personal belongings, on account of rumours about their personal safety, these youths brought home worries not only for themselves and their families, but also for the State governments.
The families are upset that the remittances these youths sent home every month will come to a halt, if they are unable to return to work; this means that they have to depend primarily on agriculture. And farming is no more remunerative. After all, that factor sparked the migration first.
The States are worried as they are not in a position to re-employ these youth if they choose to stay back.
Bhupen Sarmah, director of the Omeo Kumar Das Institute of Social Change, a think tank, says: “The return of the youth, employed mostly in the lower-end job market elsewhere, will inexorably add to the colossal unemployment problem that the region has been confronting, which prompted them to leave. Let us not talk about the remittance their poor parents used to receive, however small it might be. Secondly, it may also reinforce the sense of alienation ‘from mainland India’ in young minds.”
Jayanta Madhab, an economist who headed the Employment Generation Mission of the Assam government, says migration not only helps youth get employment and better education, it also has a larger social implication of removing the feeling of alienation. “Northeast youth are preferred by employers because of their positive attitude and good manners. Their employability can be enhanced through skill development,” he says.
Siddhartha Gogoi of Sepon in Assam’s Sivasagar district, one of the returnees, has been working as a security guard for three years in Bangalore. He says he has no option but to return to his Karnataka job as soon as possible, as he is the breadwinner, and has no land except a plot with a small house. He earns Rs.7,000 a month and stays in company housing, sending Rs.5,000 every month to his mother and sister, who is doing a computer course.