April , 2019
Socio-economic implications of migration in India
13:27 pm

Om Prakash Shukla Lopamudra Lenka Samantaray

Currently, migration is a major focus area due to social, economic, and political reasons. Consistent growth of population has aggravated socio-economic issues like excessive flow of migration, unemployment, regional disparities, growth of pollution, poverty, health crisis, etc. Moreover, the unemployment problem and the issues of migration have caught the attention of various researchers and policy makers of both developed and developing countries. Trump’s immigration policy, Brexit agenda, and the Syrian refugee crisis are some of the examples of socio-political uproars followed by high rate of migration influx.

The Indian economy is highly impacted by various demographic components like fertility, mortality, morbidity, and mobility. Migration may be taken as a strategy of development in terms of growth in investment, employment opportunities, entrepreneurship, health benefits, education and infrastructure facilities due to remittances received by the people of source regions. The negative impacts include rising pressure over land, water and air followed by consistent growth of population and pollution. It further produces various socio-economic, socio-political and socio-cultural turbulences due to the growth of inter-regional disparities. As per the latest Census of India report 2011, about 45.36 crore of Indians come under the category of migrants. This constitutes about 37% of the total population of India. Here, the trend of inter-state migration is found to be higher than international migration.

Migration as a multifaceted component comprises of forward, backward and circular movements of people depending on the scope of advantages and disadvantages attached to both areas of origin and destination. India’s migrant population has risen from 315 million (2001) to 454 million (2011). The share of rural and urban workforce followed by migrant groups has increased in the national level. Moreover, India is largely impacted by internal migration, where the rural sector stands as a place of origin for maximum migrants. The search of employment” stands as a main factor of migration among the rural males and marriage stands as a prime factor of migration among rural females. A broad study of migration flows with respect to migration reasons and streams can be depicted with the help of following

As mentioned in the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation report 2017, factors like marriage and other family related reasons for migration have stood to be higher which constitutes for 72.2% of all migration during 1991 to 2001 and 74.7% of all migration during 2001 to 2011. The growing share of migrants supported by family based reasons may indicate that the former flow of migrants who have settled down in urban areas are the cause of additional migrants to urban areas. This further reveals the fact that the share of female migrants from rural to urban India increased from 49.9% from 2001 to 53.2% in 2011, though the share of women in total decadal migration has decreased from 66.9% to 65.3%, respectively. As mentioned in Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation report 2017, not only the flow of rural-urban migration has increased, the migration flow from urban to rural areas also rise from 6.3 million to 11.5 million. The share of migrants from rural or urban origin in different census studies has risen from 4.5 % (of which 0.8% was unclassified international migrants) to 9.8% during the years 2001 to 2011 respectively.

The rise in urban to urban migration for work essentially depicts the fact that, there is a deprivation or entry barrier for rural migrants who are inclined to migrate towards urban areas with multiple targets. It also reveals the fact that the share of people migrating for work and business has comparatively decreased due to growing trend of migration associated with the other factors such as marriage and family related reasons over migration decision. The share of urban to urban migrants rose from 15.2% to 22.6% in 2011. Moreover, the share of urban migrants driven by employment reasons from 33.7% in 2001 to 42.4% in 2011 respectively.

As observed by the National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector (NCEUS), about 90% employment creation in India falls under the category of informal sector. The high migrant pressure on urban areas has been the concern point for policy makers of many countries.

The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) feels that migrants constitute a ‘floating’ and an invisible population, alternating between source and destination areas and remaining on the periphery of society. In India, internal migration has been given a low priority by the government. The government should take up policies that are aimed at providing legal and social protection to this vulnerable group.

The Census of India fails to capture the exact data for both short-term and long-term migrants categorically. The government of India fails to provide adequate protection with regard to health, education and discrimination based on ethnicity, religion, class or gender.  Hence, focused measures should be taken for creating opportunities both in the place of origin and destination for migrants.

According to the UNICEF, efforts must be made to build the capacity of panchayats to maintain a database of migrant workers (with details of numbers of migrants and recruitment by contractors) and establish vigilant committees to identify entry of new migrants at the local level. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of United Nations, with the population of 1.27 billion, agriculture and allied sectors are the largest source of livelihood of maximum number of Indians. In agriculture, about 82% of farmers are small and marginal. Increased feminization of agriculture due to massive rural-out migration of male members in families is creating a host of social issues. Hence measures should be taken to provide gainful employment opportunities for these categories of migrants at their place of origin.

The government should focus for skill upgradation through proper training and programmes which can further enhance efficiency. Financial inclusion must be introduced for both farming, non-farming sectors and for different group of people including SC, ST, women and elderly people to reduce migration.

The European Observation Network for Territorial Development and Cohesion ((ESPON), states that migration being a global issue can be strategically tackled with regional, national and international policy cohesion. The overall migration pattern of India is linked to rural issues. India is going to be a country with the largest rural population of about 805 million by 2050. It has also been predicted that, though the trend of urbanisation will be faster, the growth of rural segment will continue to be substantial. Hence, it is desirable on the part of the government, private sector enterprises and regional stakeholders, to put due effort for eradicating migration related issues.

- Dr. Shukla is the Principal, National Defence Academy (NDA), Pune, Maharashtra and Lopamudra Lenka Samantaray is a research scholar from Symbiosis Centre for Research and Innovation (SCRI), SIU, Pune, Maharashtra.


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