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DATA STORY : Internal Migration in India

  • Published
    26th May, 2022

Article 19(1)(e) of the Constitution, guarantees all Indian citizens the right to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India, subject to reasonable restrictions in the interest of the general public or protection of any scheduled tribe.

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 utilized. In India, as in most countries, there are generally no restrictions on internal movement. 

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 a percentage of population increased from 30% in 2001 to 37% in 2011. 

Inter-state migrants represented only 4% of the population in India in 2011, a rate almost unchanged since 2001. The low rate of inter-state migration is cause for concern since it indicates that optimal allocation of human resources across the regional dimension is facing frictions. World Bank attributes the low rate of internal migration to:

  • Non-portability of entitlements (such as the Public Distribution System) 
  • Preferential norms in educational institutions
  • Domicile requirements for state government jobs

With the introduction of Aadhar-based benefits, the issue of benefits portability may be addressed.

The Inter-State Migrant Workmen Act, 1979 (ISMW Act) provides certain protections for inter-state migrant workers.  Labour contractors recruiting migrants are required to: 

  • be licensed, 
  • register migrant workers with the government authorities, and 
  • arrange for the worker to be issued a passbook recording their identity

Guidelines regarding wages and protections (including accommodation, free medical facilities, protective clothing) to be provided by the contractor are also outlined in the law.

This data story aims to highlight the data related to internal migration in India.


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