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Interstate Migrants

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Migrants Crisis in India


What is Migration?

  •  Migration is defined as the movement of people from one place to another across the political boundaries- national (internal) or international. It is an integral part and an important factor in redistributing the population over time and space.
  •  As per 2011 Census, which found that 455 million Indians, or over one-third of the population could be classified as “migrants”.
  • The Census defines a migrant as a person who is at a different place from his or her “usual place residence” at the time of the Census enumeration.
  • However, the vast majority of these “migrants” are women who have moved out of their village or town to get married. Economic migrants make up less than a tenth of all migrants at just over 45 million.


  • Economic Survey 2016- The total migrant force could be over 100 million
  • Professor Amitabh Kundu of Research and information System for Developing countries, based on the 2011 Census, NSSO surveys and economic survey, show that there are a total of about 65 million inter-state migrants, and 33 per cent of these migrants are workers.
  •  Delhi alone is home to about 1.3 million migrant workers, according to the census conducted in 2011. The total number of interstate workers in India’s urban centres: 13.4 million (almost 12 million of whom are men). And that doesn’t even include migrants from within the state, say, from a neighbouring district
  •  According to the Report of the Committee on Unorganized Sector Statistics, 2012, they constitute 93% of the overall workforce and contribute 50% towards the Gross National Product (GNP). Yet, such a large workforce lacks clear legal protections. There are laws aimed at the informal sector, covering working conditions and social security of its workers, but none of them directly deals with jobless migrants leaving cities.
  •  According to the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) of 2017-18, 71.1% of the workers in the non-agricultural sector with a regular salary didn’t have a written job contract; 54.2% were not eligible for paid leave; and, 49.6% for any social security benefits
  • interstate migration in India is less than in other countries at a similar stage of economic development, studies show. A 2016 World Bank study attributed this partly to the migrant unfriendly policies in many parts of the country.
  • India ranked last in a sample of about 80 countries, in a cross-country comparison of internal migration rates between 2000 and 2010 by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
  • The Constitution of India (Article 19) gives the right to all citizens “to move freely throughout the territory of India and to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India.
  • As per Census 2011, 45 million Indians moved outside their district of birth for economic opportunities (be it employment or business).
  • In India, internal migration (fueled by an increasing rate of urbanization and rural-urban wage difference) is far greater than an external migration.
  • Instead of long term migration, there is a huge flow of short term migrants in the country.
  • Migrants and the SDGs
    • The 2030 Agenda (with core principle to “leave no one behind,” including migrants) for Sustainable Development recognizes for the first time the contribution of migration to sustainable development.
    • The SDGs’ central reference to migration is made in target 10.7, to facilitate orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies.

Fact Charts


  • Professor Kundu’s estimates show that Uttar Pradesh and Bihar account for the origin of 25 per cent and 14 per cent of the total inter-state migrants, followed by Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, at 6 per cent and 5 per cent.
  • As per the Report of the Working Group on Migration, 2017 under the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, 17 districts account for the top 25% of India’s total male out-migration. Then of these districts are in UP, six in Bihar and one in Odisha
  • The Report of the Working Group on Migration shows that the share of migrant workers is the highest in construction sector for females (67 per cent in urban areas, 73 per cent in rural areas), while highest number of male migrant workers are employed in public services (transport, postal, public administration services) and modern services (financial intermediation, real estate, renting, education, health) at 16 per cent each and 40 per cent each in rural and urban areas, respectively
  •  Long‐term migrants are more likely to be educated, come from upper income groups, and are forward caste. In contrast, short-term migrants are less educated, tend to be dalits or adivasis and come from the poorer sections of the society, Desai and Chatterjee found


  • There are four streams of Internal migration:
    • Rural to urban (R-U)
    • Rural to Rural (R-R)
    • Urban to Rural (U-R)
    • Urban to Urban (U-U)



  • The pull factors of better job facilities, good salary, and more income, medical and educational facilities are attracting the rural people to move to the cities.
  • The push factors of no job facilities, low salary, less income, drought, less medical and education compel people towards cities


  • As observed by Census 2001, in case of intra-state migrants majority of the migration is from one rural area to another, due to marriage in case of females.


  • The prime reason for migration from rural to urban areas and urban to urban areas is search of better employment in industries, trade, transport and services.


  • Due to lack of educational facilities in rural areas, people migrate to the urban areas for better academic opportunities. In 2011 census, about 1.77% people migrated for education
  • By 2020, India will become the world’s largest pool of young people, in contrast, there is a lack of opportunities for employment in India, this leads to the emigration of qualified people.

Environmental and disaster induced factors

  • According to a Lok Sabha Report, 2013 around 50 million people have been displaced to the name of development projects over 50 years in India


  • Political disturbances and interethnic conflicts is another reason for internal migration.


  • Corona


  • Khap Panchayats, Caste System etc




Labour Demand and Supply

    • Internal migration fills gaps in demand for and supply of labour; and efficiently allocates skilled and unskilled labour; cheap labour

Remittances –

    • It provides remittances to households in the areas of origin; increases consumer expenditure and investment in health, education and assets formation

Return Migration –

    • When a migrant return to its place of origin, he/she brings knowledge, skills and innovation (these are known as social remittances)

Skill Development –

    • Migration is an informal process of skill development. It enhances knowledge and skills of migrants through exposure and interaction with the outside world.


    • Migration leads to intermixing of people from different cultures which brings up a composite culture among the people
    • In-migration also leads to demographic changes with large young male population dominating the age-sex composition.

Quality of Life:

    • Migration, enhances chances of employment and economic prosperity which in turn improves quality of life. The migrants also send extra income and remittance back home, thereby positively impacting their native place.


Employment in informal economy:

    • Migrants dominate the urban informal economy which is marked by high poverty and vulnerabilities.

Access to Basic Facilities

    • Proving their identity is one of the core issues faced by poor migrant labourers at destination areas.
    • The basic problem of establishing identity results in a loss of access to entitlements and social services, such as subsidized food, fuel, health services, or education that are meant for the economically vulnerable sections of the population.


    • Lack of affordable housing in Indian cities force migrants to live in slums

Financial Inclusion

    • Migrant workers have limited access to formal financial services and remain unbanked


    • UNESCO’s 2019 Global Education Monitoring Report (GEM Report) shows that children left behind by migrating parents and seasonal migrants face fewer educational opportunities overall.
    • According to the report, 80% of migrant children across seven Indian cities did not have access to education near worksites.

Social Exclusion

    • There is a growing hostility of urban governments, as well as middle-class citizens, towards the urban poor, especially migrants to the cities.

Political Exclusion

    • Migrant workers are deprived of many opportunities to exercise their political rights.
    • A 2011 study pointed out that 22% of seasonal migrant workers in India did not possess voter IDs or have their names in the voter list.
    • Migrants have little or no state-level support and are often scapegoated by local law enforcement and politicians for any trouble.
    • They are underpaid, underserved and unable to be fully productive.



      • the 2008 Attacks on Bihar and UP Migrants


      • attacks were sparked by the alleged rape but they also exposed economic anxieties in a state where local traders and businessmen are struggling and joblessness is on the rise


      • Migrant workers are a soft target for militants, and during the past few weeks 11 have been killed, including the victims of this latest atrocity, the government said.


      • Murder of Nido Taniam
      • Racial abuses in Delhi against north east Indians, accusing them of coronavirus

Work Harrassment

    • Unscrupulous labour agents who coerce workers and do not pay minimum wages as stipulated by law

Human Trafficking

    • Many migrants, especially young girls and women, are deceived and trafficked

Source State

    • Feminisation of Agriculture
    • Old age Parents
    • Lack of labours

Psychological and Emotional Stress

    • Any person migrating to a new country faces multiple challenges, from cultural adaptation and language barriers to homesickness and loneliness.


  • The Human Development Report by United Nation Development Programme (2009) highlights that migration is integral to the process of human development and it plays a very important role in achieving sustainable development goals, thereby preventing migration could even be counterproductive.
  • principal employers
    • in a changing business scenario, there is a need to decode the web of complex supply chains to identify principal employers and impose on them liabilities and obligations for social protection.
  • social security
    • provide social security where there is no well-defined employer-employee relationship. For example, in MSMEs.
    • Basic necessities such as health care, old-age security, unemployment insurance, the minimum wage should be provided by the State.
    • Neither the Inter-State Migrant Workers (ISMW) Act, 1979, nor the Unorganised Workers Social Security Act, 2008, have any specific provisions on social security for migrant workers.
    • Implementation of ideas like ‘One Nation, One Ration Card’ need to be accelerated, just like Aadhaar-linked social services—in an India that is so networked, surely services can be taken to migrants instead of the other way round.
  • Kerala Model
    • Kerala has even issued alternative identity cards for education and welfare services to its “guest workers”
    • In fact, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour has recommended that the Labour Codes make special provisions for migrant labour, “as has been done by the State Government of Kerala”.
    • Kerala ranked first out of seven states for migrant friendly policies on the Interstate Migrant Policy Index 2019 (IMPEX 2019), an index compiled by India Migration Now, a Mumbai-based nonprofit
  • Coordinations between States
    • there is a need for greater coordination between source and destination states to ensure portability of benefits on the lines of the 2012 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)between Odisha and Andhra Pradesh. These should be facilitated by the central government across all the migrant corridors.
  • Interoperable Welfare Schemes
    • Another important step in this direction would be to make all welfare schemes interoperable. The One Nation, One Ration Card scheme is one such example of this.
    • schemes like Kerala government’s Aawaz health insurance scheme, Apna Ghar project -accommodation for migrant workers, Portable Rights- ensures the basic rights to workers in their respective home state, even as they labour in other states.
  • Working Group on Migration’ set by the Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviationin 2015
    • The Panel has recommended necessary legal and policy framework to protect the interests of the migrants in the country, stating that the migrant population makes substantial contribution to economic growth and their Constitutional rights need to be secured.
    •  The Working Group has recommended that the Protocols of the Registrar General of India needs to be amended to enable caste based enumeration of migrants so that they can avail the attendant benefits in the States to which migration takes place
    • . It also recommended that migrants should be enabled to avail benefits of Public Distribution System (PDS) in the destination State by providing for inter-State operability of PDS.
    •  Referring to Constitutional Right of Freedom of Movement and residence in any part of the territory of the country, the Group suggested that States should be encouraged to proactively eliminate the requirement of domicile status to prevent any discrimination in work and employment
    • It also suggested that migrants should be enabled to open bank accounts by asking banks to adhere to RBI guidelines regarding Know Your Customer (KYC) norms and not insist on documents that were not required.
    •  The Group suggested that the hugely underutilized Construction Workers Welfare Cess Fund should be used to promote rental housing, working Women Hostels etc., for the benefit of migrants
  • MGNREGS (Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme)
    • The government also announced an intensive drive to enrol migrants aggressively at their home locations under MGNREGS (Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme) so that they do not go without income.
  • There is an urgent need to develop a coherent legal and policy framework on migration. Policy can have two dimensions:
    • i)reducing distress-induced migration
    • (ii) address conditions of work, terms of employment and access to basic necessities.
  • Database
    • Accurate identification resulting in efficient delivery: There is not a single definition of migrant workers and informal wokforce, leave alone an identified registry
    • Databases of flagship skill development projects such as Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY), National Urban Livelihoods Mission (NULM), National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM), Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana (DDU-GKY), etc, can also be integrated for the digital mobilisation
  • Schemes and acts
    • Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act of 1979:
      • It seeks to address the unjust working conditions of migrant workers, including the necessity of gaining employment through middlemen contractors or agents who promise a monthly settlement of wages but do not pay when the times comes.
    • Enhancing livelihood opportunities for rural population: The government from time-to-time has taken various initiatives to combat farmers’ distress and enhance livelihood opportunities in rural areas.
    • Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM),Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, Attracting and Retaining of Youth in Agriculture (ARYA).
  • Ralegaon Sidhi and Arvari Village Model
    • ARVARI Village::
      • Rajendra singh encourgaed villagers to take JOHAD system for water Harvesting
      • Rainwater is collected and allowed to percolate in soil
      • Crop yields increased by 2-5 times ,lost river regenerated
    • RALEGAON Siddhi ::
      • In 1975 work began with Percolation Tank construction by ANNA
      • Community was engaged for maintainence of Structures
      • Today the Village has changed
      • The ridge to valley programme involved structures like gully plugging,loose boulder structure, gabian structure, nalla bunding, cement check dams etc
      • This ultimately raised the water table. In the same village where earlier it was not possible to cultivate more than 300–350 acres of land for one crop, now the villagers are harvesting two crops in 1500 acres of land
      • Migration ceased, infact villagers from other areas are now migrating here


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