Jeera Devi, 35, hails from village Tadi, Cholapur block. She has a joint family of eight members. For about seven months, her family was in deep poverty as the sole breadwinner had no source of earning a livelihood. Her husband, Sangad, is a construction labourer who was devoid of any work when the pandemic hit the face of the country and the subsequent lockdown period. They resorted to borrowing some money from the local money lenders on interest to fulfil the bare minimum necessities such as food and other indispensable expenses.
"Tata Trusts led Mission Gaurav program came to our doorsteps when our family was in dire need and showed us a way out. We consider ourselves very grateful for this”
The story of Jeera Devi is not any different from various families belonging to the rural belt. The intrusion of COVID-19 made it extremely tough for the villagers. Surprisingly not because of the number of infected or the consequent fear but due to the lack of livelihood. More than 21 Lakh migrants returned to Uttar Pradesh, their native state. A report published in June by The Economic Times said that the majority came back from states such as Gujarat, Maharastra and Punjab. The intra-state migrants’ numbers are even more. Especially in villages that are closely connected to cities, such as Cholapur where men, women and youth are largely dependent on daily wage work. Migrants were the worst hit group when the economy got disrupted during the pandemic. Lack of knowledge of the social security cover added to their misery.
The Tata Trusts led Mission Gaurav program was flagged off in November 2020 as a shield to provide large scale employability options to the migrant community and to support them with social security net so that they can withstand future shocks. The program reached out to migrants belonging to far off villages through mobile ASK (Apna Sewa Kendra) Centers. Awareness about the government benefits specifically designed for migrants’ was promoted and a guaranteed job demand of 100 days was registered under MGNREGS for the unemployed. The services involved liaisoning with the local, block and district level government machinery at various steps so that the migrant family gets adequate support.
“We asked our children to quit their education as we were unable to bear this expenditure and fulfil our basic needs at the same time, it was a very difficult period,” says Jeera Devi. When the mobile ASK Center facilitated by the Shabnam Aara visited Jeera Devi’s village, her husband registered a job demand. After a few days, he was provided employment under the MGNREGA. She added “We are villagers and we often lack the knowledge, Tata Trusts led Mission Gaurav program came to our doorsteps when our family was in dire need and showed us a way out. We consider ourselves very grateful for this”