We the migrants

Oct 24 2013, 16:59 IST
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SummaryThe development process needs to address issues of displacement.

The development process needs to address issues of displacement.

Migration is a livelihood strategy and a means to cope with distress arising from drought, flood and lack of employment opportunities locally. There is one section of the population which migrates to get better education, skills and employment. People may also migrate for political and social reasons, such as ethnic conflicts, riots and the pressures of various forms of subjugation. It is not just a route to employment and education but also a means to more freedom. Migrants are not a homogeneous group. There are huge variations in age, gender, educational level, occupational status, skills, earnings as well as linguistic and cultural background. As a result, they experience different levels of vulnerability and inclusion. Migrants with poor skills and education, driven by distress, are hugely vulnerable and suffer from deprivations and exploitation in the places they migrate to.

The recent UNESCO report titled “Social Inclusion of Internal Migrants in India” highlights that internal migrants are a neglected segment of India’s population. There is a need to mainstream internal migration into our development process. About a third of India’s population is categorised as internal migrant by the census. Roughly half of them participate in the workforce. Migrant workers are a visible component in big and small cities as well as in rural areas with growing agricultural and allied sectors. Migrants are prominently employed in the construction and textile sectors, in the domestic workforce, at brick kilns and salt pans. They are also employed in commercial and plantation agriculture, and in the the urban informal sector, working as vendors, hawkers, rickshaw pullers and daily wage workers. They contribute to the rising GDP of India and send remittances to their families back home, to be spent on food, education and healthcare. Remittances by internal migrants amount to about Rs 60,000-70, 000 crore. But financial inclusion has not spread much among migrants yet — only 30 per cent of the remittances are sent through formal channels. States like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Odisha and Uttarakhand are the major recipients of internal remittances. Returning migrants bring a variety of skills, innovation and knowledge to their areas of origin. These are the social remittances. In the long run, migration could play a positive role. With the right type of policy, it could benefit both the areas of origin and the areas that receive migrants. The UNESCO publication points

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