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‘Migrant Policy Index’

  • Category
    Society
  • Published
    16th Nov, 2020

The states of Kerala, Goa, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh have been most successful in integrating migrant workers

Context

The states of Kerala, Goa, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh have been most successful in integrating migrant workers, while crucial migrant receiving states, including Delhi, have done poorly, shows the Interstate Migrant Policy Index that seeks to measure integration of interstate migrants.

Background

  • Inter- state migration is a key income generating strategy for low income households in India.
  • But despite the importance of migration for a large majority of Indians, migrants continue to face significant barriers in their destination states.
  • The impact of state borders is significant and large on migration levels within India.
  • Thus, there is an urgent need to understand the prevailing migration policy environment in an accessible and engaging manner.
  • An indexing exercise can achieve this while also providing a policy benchmark for governments to strive for.

Analysis

What is the Interstate Migrant Policy Index (IMPEX)?

  • The Interstate Migrant Policy Index (IMPEX) is developed by the Mumbai-based research non-profit India Migration Now (IMN). It sought to measure the integration of interstate migrants.
  • The states’ performances have been assessed on eight policy areas spanning more than 60 policy indicators.
  • The index ranks and compares all the states of India based on their migrant integration policies.
  • The index addresses questions like which Indian states have the most migrant friendly policy regimes, how does India’s migration related policies compare with the rest of the world and what are the benchmarks for integration policies of internal migrants in India?
  • The index could help bureaucrats and stakeholders in evolving policy for India’s 455 million internal migrants who remain one of the most excluded groups in the country.
  • This figure is from Census 2011, and may have changed between 2011-20.

Key-findings of the Index

  • India’s average Interstate Migrant Policy Index (IMPEX) score in 2019 for 28 states and the Union Territory of NCT Delhi is 37 out of 100.
  • It reflects the limited attention paid to integration efforts in the destination states. Kerala – at 57 – scored the highest, followed by Goa and Rajasthan at 51.
  • The states of Manipur, Jharkhand, and Tripura were at the bottom, with scores of 19, 23, and 26.
  • With a score of 34, the capital too ranked near the bottom.

How States have performed well?

  • Kerala: Kerala’s performance can be attributed to two aspects.
    • Recognition: The first is the state’s recognition of migrants as a considerable force guiding the demographics.
      • This is reflected in the state’s child education policy,Project Roshni, which recognises the special needs of migrant children in terms of care, education, and protection, as India Spend reported after the pandemic struck.
    • Targeted schemes: The second is the existence of targeted schemes for migrant workers and extending to them social security, labour protection and welfare--for instance, the Aawaz health and accident insurance programme for migrant workers. 
      • Not only does Kerala include migrants within general policymaking (principle of equality), it also accounts for the special needs that migrant communities may have (principle of migrant vulnerability)--both of which form the underlying principles of the IMPEX evaluation.
    • Rajasthan: Rajasthan scores well because it does not have restrictions based on domicile certificate--granted to those born or resident for 10 years in the state or women married to Rajasthani men--for state employment.
      • India’s largest state also has favourable educational policies for all children, irrespective of their migrant status.
      • The Rajasthan Right to Education Rules 2011, which add state-level provisions to a central law, state that all children within Rajasthan (whether resident or migrant) have access to primary education.
      • Additionally, local authorities have to maintain a record of every student irrespective of his/her residency status. It also requires the local authorities to record details of children requiring special/residential facilities on account of migration.
    • Goa: Goa has favourable policies for migrant workers, as mentioned under the Interstate Migrant Workmen Rules, which specify that all information to migrants must be disseminated in their native language and that contractors for migrant workers must bear their healthcare costs.
    • Andhra Pradesh: Andhra Pradesh, with a relatively good IMPEX score of 49, demonstrates how bilateral agreements between states can promote integration.
      • In July 2012, the governments of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha signed an agreement to create a sustainable mechanism to integrate migrants from Odisha in Andhra Pradesh.
      • This effort included child migrants, for whom education would be provided in their native language by roping in Odia teachers to teach using Odia language textbooks.
    • The states of Bihar (64) and Assam (58) scored the most on the housing indicator.
    • Bihar: In Bihar, migrants are covered under the state’s Shelter for Urban Homeless
      • The Indian government’s Working Group on Migration, in their 2017 report, had pointed out how short-term migrants are pushed to informal settlements, and face threat of displacement and eviction.
      • Bihar’s scheme addresses these specific challenges faced by vulnerable groups, including migrant workers, by providing permanent settlement equipped with essential services.
    • Assam: In Assam, the 2015 Urban Affordable Housing Policy covered migrant workers, too, but it is scores lower than Bihar because it requires domicile documents to provide long-term housing to interstate migrants--domicile or residency certificate in Assam requires 20 years of residence and 50 years of prior residence by the applicant’s parents/forefathers.

Policies for migrant workers

  • Central policies exist to foster integration of migrant workers, especially through statutes such as
    • the Interstate Migrant Workmen (Regulation and Conditions of Service) Act 1979
    • theMinimum Wages Act 1948
    • the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act 1970
    • the Equal Remuneration Act 1976
    • the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act 1996
  • However, state governments are responsible for a much wider range of policy areas touching upon migrant workers’ everyday lives, for which central government policies do not suffice.

Conclusion

The COVID-19 pandemic, while making these migrant workers visible, exacerbated the challenges they had to surmount. This is particularly true of migrants who cross state borders for work, as more than 54 million did as per Census 2011. Conversations around migrant integration--a multi-faceted process that involves migrants settling permanently or temporarily in destination states and interacting in many ways with receiving societies--rarely receive policymakers’ attention. Interstate migrants have for long been left out of the ambit of policymaking, especially owing to “exclusionary urbanisation”. But, now the time has come that government start focusing on the issue at the earliest.

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