A 42-year-old social worker in Assam's Golaghat district is helping youngsters, who were left without jobs or shelter in the country's metros because of the coronavirus lockdown, create livelihood opportunities back home by setting up fish farms, offering hope of a sustainable future in villages.
The need to develop economically viable work in villages and smaller towns has been accentuated by the continued rise of COVID-19 cases across the country. The rising cases mean that many migrants who returned home may not be able to go back to their city jobs anytime soon, leaving them to grapple with the challenge of finding a means of livelihood in a place that had few opportunities to begin with.
"I will not go back (to the city) and try to work in the villager itself. I am from a family of farmers so I will have to see what I can do," a young man in a yellow T-shirt told NDTV.
This is where Parikshit Dutta, the working president of the Rhythm Agricultural Group, an NGO, has stepped in as a changemaker by creating jobs in villages.
In the weeks following the Covid-driven migration, Mr Dutta has trained at least 60 young men in pisciculture and helped them set up fisheries where they use the advanced biofloc technology that allows to farmers to grow a huge number of fish in a small space, and fast.
"Something had to be done for the youngsters who had come back. We thought of helping by starting fisheries. We have given small fish and fishing nets to them and helped them start a co-operative. For these youth, who once had to migrate in search of a job, this is a new lease of life back home," Mr Dutta said after lighting a lamp and offering prayers on the start of a fishery.
The group of men trained by Mr Dutta has been provided with 50,000 small fish and five fisheries have been opened till now.
"We, the youth, have had a mindset that nothing can be done here in the village and so we go out. But now, these fisheries have inspired us. It has allowed us to think that we can do lot of things for ourselves in the village itself," a bespectacled man in a blue T-shirt told NDTV.
Recently, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal had directed the Fisheries Department to create employment opportunities under a central government scheme for youths returning to the state due to the COVID-19 outbreak and bring about a "blue revolution"
He had and instructed officials to set up "fish landing ports" on the banks of Brahmaputra and Barak rivers, create "fish farmer-producer groups" for better market linkage and expand its reach to fish markets in neighbouring states.
Assam has registered more than 14,600 Coronavirus cases with 568 fresh cases reported Thursday. Some 27 people have lost their lives to the highly infectious disease in the state, which has 5,423 active cases.