• In India, internal migration accounts for a large population of 309 million as per Census of India 2001, and by more recent estimates, 326 million (NSSO 2007-2008), nearly 30 percent of the total population. Internal migrants, of which 70.7 percent are women, are excluded from the economic, cultural, social and political life of society and are often treated as second-class citizens **
@* Economic Survey 2016-17 (released in January, 2017) (please click here to access)
$$ Concept Note prepared for the national seminar entitled: 'Contesting Spaces & Negotiating Development: A Dialogue on Domestic Migrants, State and Inclusive Citizenship in India’, to be held at Centerfor Public Policy, Habitat & Human Development, School of Development Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (Mumbai) on 25-26March 2016 (please click here to access the Concept Note)
** Social Inclusion of Internal Migrants in India (2013), by UNICEF, UNESCO and Sir Dorabji Tata Trust (Please click here to download the report)
$ Migration and Gender in India by Indrani Mazumdar, N Neetha and Indu Agnihotri, Economic and Political Weekly, March 9, 2013, Vol xlvIiI No 10
Keeping track of mass migration is an enumerator’s nightmare. Even the Census of India can’t always get this accurately. Before a government agency is able to take note of distress or seasonal migration, people often come back for the harvest season or move elsewhere. Mass seasonal migration has become an almost fixed event for some industries like brick manufacturing or sugarcane farming. Distress and seasonal migration invariably means no education for children, no voting rights for adults, and missing out on BPL facilities at either place of birth or the site of work.
The worst sufferers of seasonal and distress migration are the poorest of poor, the tribals (STs) and the Dalits (SCs), who invariably have meager base of human or physical assets. This is particularly so in the most backward and mostly rain-fed districts of Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, MP, Karnataka and Maharashtra. It is quite common for migrant women to work as agricultural labourers and for men to seek employment in the unorganized sector.
Distress migration also fuels a chaotic growth of unorganized/ informal industries and haphazard expansion of urban slums. Owners of small and informal factories love migrant workers. For they are more willing to work for less wages, are less likely to be absent for trivial reasons, are dependent on labour contractors and are powerless compared to local workforce. Their vulnerability and low wages may be of short-term advantage to the industry, but in the long run they fail to participate in India’s growth story by earning more and consuming more. That is why it is often argued that rural-urban migration can lead to prosperity only when a ‘pull factor’ of better paid work replaces the push-factor of rural poverty.
Between 1991 and 2001, as many as 73 million rural people have migrated (displaced from their place of birth) to elsewhere. But the majority of these people (53 million) moved to other villages and less than a third (20 million) to urban areas and mostly in search of jobs. The number of seasonal or cyclic migration is around 2 crore but some experts believe that the actual number could be ten times the official figure.