Themes - 29 septembre 2010

fr - India, Migration - for greater poverty or prosperity ?

This question confronts us a dilemma of situations faced by the population on move- the Diaspora. Migration invariably means uprooting from the familiar to the unknown. This was the experience of the people of God in the Bible, it is the experience of every people on move for various reasons.

There are various types of migration depending on the causes :

  • Development induced economic migration.
  • Migration for livelihood.
  • Migration for greater opportunities.
  • Migration due to political situations.
  • Migration due to war and ethnic conflict.
  • Migration due to Natural calamities.

Based on the geographical situation migration could be :

  • Rural to Rural- poverty areas to prosperous agricultural areas.
  • Rural to Urban migration
  • Inter-city migration.
  • Inter- state migration
  • International/ continental migration.

Living and watching the national situation closely I would prefer to concentrate my reflection on India, and the rural to urban migration. 25% of India’s poor live in the cities and 31% of the urban population is poor.

The” Push" Factors of migration are poverty, unemployment, lack of opportunities, lower payments, communal hatred, caste segregation, crop failure, indebtedness, lack of farmland, famine etc. in the place of their origin which are perceived by migrants as detrimental to their well- being and economic security.

The “Pull Factors” of migration are Opportunities for jobs and other social factors, high wages, better education for their children, well paid jobs and better standard of living.

India as a nation has seen a high migration rate in recent years. Over 98 million people migrated from one place to another in 1990s, the highest for any decade since independence according to the 2001 census details. Apart from women migrating due to marriage, employment is the biggest reason for migration. The number of job seekers among all migrants has increased by 45% over the previous decade. Nearly 14 million people migrated from their place of birth in search of jobs.

Types of migrations :

  • Involuntary migrations : largely consist of poor household, unskilled and illiterate poor laborers. They forced by circumstances to leave their home looking for livelihoods and they land up in cities that are unfriendly and hostile to them. They have no choice with regard to the kind of work or place to live in. They become prey to the unscrupulous contractors who employ them with lower wages and shuttle them from one work site to another. Their children will never get a chance to attend school. By the age of ten these children are also becoming part of the labor force. Most of these migrants are working for road construction and other public work departments. In the long run these people get settled in the slums.
  • Seasonal Migration : These are migrants moving from one place to another for seasonal works and they return to their origins once they finish their work to return the following year. These are cyclic migratns like sugar cane cutting seasons, harvesting seasons etc. Here again their children will never go to school and they continue the cycle of poverty and migration.
  • Development induced migration : This is due to the unequal regional development and imbalanced growth. People from underdeveloped regions migrate to developed regions for better opportunities. These are mostly educated and skilled job seekers. They have a better chance of improving their economic status and become settlers in the new places.

Impact of migration on economy :

  • Overcrowding of the cities/ increasing the slums.
  • Shortage of civic amenities.
  • No education for their children so perpetuation of the vicious circle.
  • People loose their identity and collective bargaining capacity.
  • Rampant exploitation and violence on the poor and vulnerable.

By Sr. Philomina Thomas, RA