| Dipankar Gupta in Ranchi. Picture by Ashok Karan
Ranchi, Jan. 17: The villagers here are well-travelled and skilful.
Contrary to the popular image, villagers from Jharkhand are migrating far and wide in search of work. And the variety of work they are engaged in, is mind-blowing.
From carpet-weaving in Uttar Pradesh to sugar mills in North Bihar, they have made their presence felt.
Hordes of them have descended on the western coast and in towns and cities in the northern plains.
But primary data about their migration is rare and of dubious authenticity, forcing Prof Dipankar Gupta from the Centre For The Study of Social Systems in the School of Social Sciences (Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi), to visit some of the remote villages in the state.
He is evidently fascinated by the long journeys into the unknown undertaken by the poorest of people every year, almost as a matter of routine.
Reluctant to speak about his findings, Prof Gupta points out that it is too early to speak of findings.
But his first impressions are that people donít want to live in villages anymore.
They want to go to towns and look for a job. The trend is natural because even those who were issued cards under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme are yet to get any work.
Very few own land of their own but the holdings are too small to sustain their families. Nor do they seem to have a clear idea of their rights in forest areas.
He is also struck by the fact that youngsters , even in the few remote villages in Latehar that he visited, are all keen to pursue their studies despite the heavy odds they face.