NAGAON, June 12 - �The migration of workers from their place of work to their homes due to the COVID-19-induced lockdown has been a major crisis impacting the economy of the country in a big way,� said the Vice-Chancellor of Gauhati University, Prof PJ Handique while inaugurating a national webinar on June 10 on �Migration challenges: global, national and for the economy of the State of Assam in the context of COVID-19� at Nowgong College.
The Internal Quality Assurance Cell (IQAC) of the college organised the webinar in which more than 380 participants and paper presenters from different corners of the country took part in the webinar.
The inaugural session of the webinar was chaired by Dr Sarat Borkataki, the principal of the college and anchored by Dr Bhuban Ch Chutia, the secretary of the organising committee. Prof PJ Handique, Vice-Chancellor of Gauhati University, inaugurated the webinar followed by messages from Prof MK Choudhury, advisor, Department of Higher Education, Govt of Assam.
In his speech, Handique said that to fight against the global spread of COVID-19, most of the countries including India had imposed lockdown since March 2020. Though a lockdown has been identified as the most effective measure to restrict the spread of the viral disease, it has engendered several crisis in India. One of the major crisis takes place due to lockdown is the migration of huge groups of working people from their place of work to home states, he said that adding that many were even forced to return from abroad to their respective homelands. In some certain cases, the migration crisis is speedily changing its nature to a refugee crisis and it has already impacted on the socio-economy of the country, he added further.
He however said, in this background it becomes very pertinent to discuss and analyse the situation very critically and to identify attainable objectives for the overall benefit of the states and the people. It seems, this webinar will identify and frame doable objectives and work-plan to strengthen economic growth and resilience, Handique said.
The renowned chair professor of Contemporary Indian Studies of Rutgers University, USA Prof Binod Khadria delivered the keynote address.
Prof Khadria mentioned that Assam should be made a hub of higher education to retain students going out of the State for higher studies and to raise the labour productivity of the young generation.
He also said that value education should be included in the curriculum to take the youth away from subconscious anxiety about illegal immigrants rooted in the psyche of �sons of the soil�, and to shun ethnic conflicts. Prof Khadria also said that the hub should also provide quality vocational training in local crafts unique to Assam like � bamboo, bell metal, endi, muga, silk etc., modernise them as MSMEs eligible to claim benefits from Central government packages.
He emphasised on setting up a �centre for the study of Assamese diaspora, migrants and returnees� to leverage development partnership with the Assamese diaspora abroad.
The session was also addressed by resource person, Prof R Handique, HoD, History of Gauhati University who elaborated on the history of the pandemic in the context of Assam. He said the history of pandemics is quite old and even in the 21st century, the terminologies used for earlier pandemics are still being used to describe the situation. Dr Sarat Borkataki, in his speech, said migration is not a new phenomenon in the world, but the pictures of migrants desperately seeking to return home after imposition of the lockdown due to COVID-19 has links with the issues of employment and development of the State.