Migrants are not a drain on urban economies but provide cheap labour, thus contributing to the country’s gross domestic product in a significant, though unrecognised, manner, a report released by the UNESCO on Thursday said.
According to the National Sample Survey organisation, as much as 30 per cent of India’s population, or 326 million people, are internal migrants as of 2007-08. Of this 70.7 per cent are women.
Interestingly, Tier-II cities have a larger migrant population than the metro cities, which are seen as the top draw for migrants. Leading the race, a huge 58 per cent of the population in Surat is made of migrants, closely followed by Ludhiana (57 per cent), Faridabad (55 per cent), Nashik (50 per cent) and Pune (45 per cent). Mumbai and Delhi each have about 43 per cent migrants.
With cities remaining hostile towards internal migrants, this poorly-paid population faces a number, including, “lack of formal residency rights; lack of identity proof; lack of political representation; inadequate housing; insecure or hazardous work; extreme vulnerability of women and children to trafficking and sex exploitation; exclusion from state-provided services such as health and education and discrimination based on ethnicity, religion, class or gender,” the report notes.
The UNESCO report, Social Inclusion of Internal Migrants, notes that policy makers and urban planners view migration, which is beset by the myth that migrants steal jobs from locals, as a negative process and have created an inconducive and unsupportive environment for them.
It adds that typically internal migrants are engaged in “dirty, dangerous and degrading jobs, which is different to stealing jobs.”