- Recently, four persons were arrested in Tamil Nadu for allegedly assaulting migrant workers. The incident sparked questions on the safety of migrants in the country.
Migration in India
- According to official sources, over 37 per cent of the population of the country are internal migrants.
- Relatively less developed states such as Bihar and Uttar Pradesh have high net out-migration. Relatively more developed states such as Goa, Delhi, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka exhibit net immigration.
What triggers migration?
- The most accepted reasoning is a response to the uneven distribution of opportunities over space. This, in turn, creates both benefits and problems for the areas people migrate from, and to. These consequences can be observed in economic, social, cultural, political and demographic terms.
- The first and most obvious cause and consequence for the source region is economic. The remittances sent by migrants not only sustain the families but also help in ground-level capital formation such as housing infrastructure, and funds for the education and healthcare of the family members left behind.
- The social impacts of migration are multifold. Migration leads to innovative ideas on new technologies, work culture, social mores and awareness of rights, besides intermixing of people from diverse cultures. It leads to the evolution of a unique composite culture, breaking up the narrow considerations and widening the mental horizon of the people at large.
- Migrants of all skill levels—from gig workers to healthcare professionals—spawn creativity, nourish the human spirit and spur economic growth.
- The state of Kerala has been proactive in initiating social welfare schemes for migrant workers.
- While other states in the country use the term “migrant workers”, Kerala calls them “guest workers” and “replacement workers”.
- Kerala is a pioneer in instituting social welfare programmes for migrant workers. The state education department has launched an inclusive programme for the education of children of migrant workers.
- In Kerala, the Kudumbashree initiative for women’s empowerment and poverty eradication included migrant workers from other states. During the lockdown imposed to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic, the Kerala government ran more than 15,000 relief camps for migrant workers. Community kitchens in panchayats ensured no migrant workers went hungry.
- The Kerala Department of Health and Family Welfare, through the National Health Mission (NHM), introduced “link workers” in 2020 to enhance access to healthcare for migrant families. Leaders identified among these workers were trained to provide information about the state’s healthcare services.
- The social justice department has set up mobile crèches for children of migrant workers at their places of work and construction sites.
- The Department of Labour and Skills (DOLS) of the Kerala government launched three “worker facilitation centres”, one each in south, central and north Kerala.
- The state has also launched its own Interstate Migrant Workers Welfare Scheme (ISMWWS-2010), which includes insurance and housing programmes.
- The challenges faced by migrants are still to be fully addressed. Unless we view migrant workers as a dynamic part of a changing India, we will not be able to lead towards an inclusive society.