Insights into Editorial: Support for lives on the move

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Insights into Editorial: Support for lives on the move

Introduction: Internal Migration in India:

Internal migration can be driven by push and/or pull factors.

In India, over the recent decades, agrarian distress (a push factor) and an increase in better-paying jobs in urban areas (a pull factor) have been drivers of internal migration.

The Economic Survey 2017 estimates that the magnitude of inter-state migration in India was close to 9 million annually between 2011 and 2016.

Data show that employment-seeking is the principal reason for migration in regions without conflict. Instead of long-term migration, there are large flows of short-term migrant labour.

Though migration is expected to enhance consumption and lift families out of absolute poverty at the origin, it is not free from distress as this distress due to unemployment or underemployment in agriculture, natural calamities, and input/output market imperfections.

More than a third of India’s population are internal migrants, while 75% of the youth of the country are migrants.


Some benefits of migration:

Internal migration has resulted in the increased well being of households, especially for people with higher skills, social connections and assets.

Migrants belonging to lower castes and tribes have also brought in enough income to improve the economic condition of their households in rural areas and lift them out of poverty.

Data show that a circular migrant’s earnings account for a higher proportion of household income among the lower castes and tribes. This has helped to improve the creditworthiness of the family members left behind as they can now obtain loans more easily.

Thus, there exists a need to scale-up interventions aimed at enhancing these benefits from circular or temporary migration.

Interventions targeting short-term migrants also need to recognise the fact that short-term migration to urban areas and its role in improving rural livelihoods is an ongoing part of a long-term economic strategy of the households.

Local interventions by NGOs and private entrepreneurs also need to consider cultural dimensions reinforced by caste hierarchies and social consequences while targeting migrants.


Why a national policy on Internal Migration?

Narrowly defined migrant-focussed interventions will not enhance the capabilities of migrants that could lead to increased earnings and an eventual exit from poverty.

Continued dynamic interventions over long periods of time would yield better results compared to single-point static interventions, especially in the context of seasonal migrants.

Local bodies and NGOs which bring about structural changes in local regions need to be provided more space.

There is a lack of focussed intervention aimed at migrants. Interventions aimed at enhanced skill development would enable easier entry into the labour market.

We also need independent interventions aimed specifically at addressing the needs of individual and household migrants because household migration necessitates access to infrastructure such as housing, sanitation and health care more than individual migration does.

Various interventions must complement each other.

As remittances from migrants are increasingly becoming the lifeline of rural households, improved financial infrastructure to enable the smooth flow of remittances and their effective use require more attention from India’s growing financial sector.


Need of the Hour:  A National Policy on Internal Migration:

Less than 20% of urban migrants had prearranged jobs and nearly two-thirds managed to find jobs within a week of their entry into the city, as per a study made in Tamil Nadu.

Access to information on employment availability through the National laws is the need of the hour. There is a need to address conditions of work, terms of employment and access to basic amenities.

There is a need to distinguish between policy interventions aimed at “migrants for survival” and “migrants for employment”. The interventions should also look at the increase of the skill levels.

Government interventions should be supported by market-led interventions such as microfinance initiatives.

Policy interventions have to consider push factors, which vary across regions and understand the heterogeneity of migrants.


Way Forward:

India needs smart urbanisation in addition to Migration policy:

A strategic shift is needed the way Government looks at migrants.

Over 34% of India’s current population lives in urban areas, rising by 3% since 2011.

By some estimates, India’s urban population could increase to 814 million by 2050. And yet, cities look and feel downtrodden, riven with poverty and poor infrastructure, with little semblance of urban planning.

We need to empower our cities, with a focus on:

  • land policy reforms,
  • granting urban local bodies, the freedom to raise financing and
  • enforce local land usage norms.

Key areas to have fulfil Smart city mission

  • Socio economic aspect
  • Physical components
  • Institutional mechanism

If these three objectives are woven together and in each other, it is easy to diversify and address number of problems like mobility, development of physical infrastructure, ICT, health, and economy.