INTERNAL MIGRANT WORKERS IN INDIA
Migrants face denial of basic entitlements including access to subsidized food, housing, drinking water, sanitation and public health facilities, education and banking services and often work in poor conditions devoid of social security and legal protection. Positive impacts of migration remain unrecognized.
— Overview of Internal Migration in India, UNICEF, 2012
The 2001 Census said the internal migrants were 30 per cent of the Indian population (309 million). According to the (National Sample Survey Office) NSSO 2007-08 findings, the proportion came down to 28.5 per cent. But 17 million more left their homes for varied reasons taking the count to 326 million. The estimates are for every type of migration – rural to rural, rural to urban and urban to urban. Another significant sociological indicator comes from the Census 2011 data. For the first time in 90 years, since the Census 1921, the Urban India added more to its numbers than the rural India. And the rural to urban migration has a significant stake. P Sainath equated this with ‘distress migration’ in one of his articles.
According to the NSSO 2007-08 findings, employment was the major reason behind migration of the male population. 29 per cent of the rural males and 56 per cent of the urban males migrated in search of the livelihood options.
And Rahul Gandhi’s Girish is just one ‘nameless faceless’ man among the millions of the migrating lot who face exploitation, poor working conditions and a poor life as the report puts it.
The trend implies a darker aspect. This migrating lot, basically the unskilled and semiskilled working class from poorer or poorly governed states, is in such a miserable conditions of survival that it opts for a life of exploitation hoping it can give some desperate earning options to meet the basic requirements like food and medicines of the family left behind.
Imagine the deplorable conditions millions of Indians are living in.
They survive on virtually nothing and that makes them tough and rugged. Those who survive the flirtations of hunger and shelter can tolerate any persecution, so be it the life where one shares a cramped room of 8 feet by 8 feet with 8 other fellow migrants in a heartless and hypercompetitive Indian metro like Delhi or Mumbai. It is not the IIMs way of making ‘workers’ rugged, workers who face problem of plenty. It is how the life makes one rugged where choices are non-existent and only the will to live further makes one to take the next step in life.
Though the government has enacted a Right to Education Bill making provision of educational facilities to every child a mandatory act, education is not at all a basic requirement of life for this migrating lot. Millions of them are still living in the dark-age mentality where more number of the male children means increased number of the earning hands in the family.
Members of this migrating class don’t have a dream when they leave their homes. They are well aware of the situation awaiting them in the metro India where they will be cornered in some slum locality or at the outskirts of the city.
Many can’t even afford that.
Delhi, India’s national capital and a city that boasts of maximum increase in per capita income, shows it. Take a random night drive crisscrossing the city, from its posh colonies to the slum localities, from its office spaces to its marketplaces, and one can see migrants surviving their day-to-day lives on road dividers, on footpaths, on railway stations, on hand-pulled rickshaws.
And Delhi is not the standalone case. Almost every big city in India will take you across a similar canvas of predicament.
There is no denial to the fact that skilled and highly skilled workers, too, are migrating but they cannot compensate for the negativity that owes its genesis in the ‘forced-by-circumstances’ migration of millions from the lower bottom of the social pyramid.
©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/