The echo of migrant footfalls and the silence of policy
In December 2019, an economist provided figures on migration, based on the 2011 national census, showing that the number of internal migrants had grown by another 100 million. Or that a third of India’s population — one in every three Indians — are migrants. Most of them are unskilled, semi-skilled labour or skilled labour.
During the recent COVID19 crisis, the entire world saw the migration of these unskilled, semi-skilled or skilled labour back to their home towns in inhumane conditions.
Migration in India –
According to World Bank economist, Supriyo De, “The number of internal migrants in India was 450 million as per the most recent 2011 Census. This is an increase of 45% over the 309 million recorded in 2001. This far exceeds the population growth rate of 18% across 2001-2011. Internal migrants as percentage of population increased from 30% in 2001 to 37% in 2011.”
How is internal migration beneficial for economy?
Internal migration, the movement of people within a country, results in a more efficient allocation of human resources to sectors and regions where they are better utilised.
What India needs to do?
- One – Relearn sustainable economics at the feet of Mahatma Gandhi — India still lives in villages and small towns not cities.
- Second – Rebuild the rural economy based on building the household. That is the key and the target. Use the Swachh Bharat network to strengthen cottage industries which have been killed by huge industry (which cannot work at more than nominal capacity); give the latter incentives to buy from rural manufacturers and thus generate rural employment, not migration or distress, so that farm incomes are supplemented. Equip and empower artisans with better skills, design, capacity and technology, access to capital and markets.
- Third – Formalise Work from Home and design a Migration Plan — support people to work in their States or near their cluster of villages so that they are not far from home especially after the recent wrenching experience where employers have dismissed and disowned them, governments have failed them and, for the most, non-governmental organisations and relief workers have come to their rescue.
- Fourth – Move funding from current planning which benefits corporates to States, panchayats and municipalities; in addition, increase allocation on health, women, children and education to 20% of the national Budget and release these funds to the States.
Source – The Hindu
QUESTION – India still lives in villages and small towns not cities. Examine the latest migration crisis through a Gandhian lens and suggest what should be done to alleviate the sufferings of the poor.