Tamil Nadu has been witnessing controversies in recent months over the recruitment of non-Tamils in government jobs that have triggered a perceptible rise in voices against migrants taking up jobs in the State. After the Andhra Pradesh government’s recent legislation to reserve 75% of jobs in the private sector for locals, tensions in the state are intensifying even more.


Recent case

  • A video clip of a railway job aspirant from a village in Tamil Nadu, went viral describing his experience at the physical examination asserting huge turnout of North Indians.
  • The same day several videos were circulated showing a crowd, purportedly of migrants, who had lined up outside the Tamil Nadu Special Police Force Training Ground to attend the physical examination test.
  • Hence, concerns were voiced about migrants taking away opportunities from the local workforce in Tamil Nadu.
  • The slogans demanding ‘protection’ of jobs in Tamil Nadu have also gained traction among a section of mainstream political parties.
  • The government order allowing people from outside Tamil Nadu to get state and central jobs in the state was amended during the former AIADMK regime.


What are the different problems that migrant workers continue to face around the country?

  • Migrant workers in India continue to face several challenges and issues, some of which are —
      • Exploitation: often paid less than their local counterparts, poor working conditions and no job security.
      • Lack of legal protection: not covered by many labour laws.
      • Poor living conditions: often live in crowded and unhygienic conditions with inadequate facilities for sanitation, clean water, and healthcare.
      • Discrimination: based on their ethnicity, language, and place of origin, which can lead to social exclusion and marginalisation.
      • Lack of documentation: often lack proper identification documents, which makes it difficult for them to access government services, open bank accounts.
      • Forced labour and debt bondage
      • Lack of social security: do not have access to social security schemes such as pensions, insurance, and healthcare.
      • Lack of awareness: Of their rights and entitlements, which makes them vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.
  • There is inadequate coordination among states on a formal exchange of information on migrant workers.
  • In the absence of data, it is difficult to track labourers during times of crisis.


Extent of internal migration in India

  • The 2011 census reported the number of internal migrants in India at 36 crore, making up 37% of the country’s population.
      • This number included both inter-state migrants and intra-state migrants. The annual net migrant flows amounted to about 1% of the working age population.
      • Also, the duration of stay of migrants indicates that immigration to TN had been happening gradually for long as 42% of the migrants residing in TN had moved 10 years before, while nearly 23% had moved 20 years before.
  • The Economic Survey 2016-17 pegged the size of the migrant workforce at roughly 20% of the population, or more than 10 crore
  • District-wise migration data revealed that the highest influx of migrants within the country was in city-districts such as Gurugram, Delhi, and Mumbai while relatively less developed states such as Bihar and Uttar Pradesh have high net out-migration.
      • Also, few pockets like Gautam Budh Nagar (Uttar Pradesh), Indore and Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh), Bengaluru (Karnataka) and Thiruvallur, Chennai, Kancheepuram, Erode, and Coimbatore (TN) reflected in-migration.
      • Also, relatively more developed states take positive CMM (Cohort-based Migration Metric) values reflecting net immigration such as Goa, Delhi, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka.
      • The largest recipient was the Delhi region, which accounted for more than half of migration in 2015-16, while UP and Bihar taken together account for half of total out-migrants.
      • Maharashtra, Goa and Tamil Nadu had major net in-migration, while Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh had major net out-migration.
  • The Report of the Working Group on Migration, 2017 by Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, revealed that 17 districts accounted for top 25% of India’s total male out-migration. Ten of these districts are in UP, six in Bihar, and one in Odisha.


What is the legal framework for migrant welfare?

  • The Inter-State Migrant Workmen Act, 1979 looks into the welfare of the labourers.
      • The Act mandates that the establishment which proposes to employ migrant workers be required to be registered with destination states.
      • Contractors will also have to obtain a licence from the concerned authority of the home states as well as the host states.
      • However, in practice, this Act has not been fully implemented.
  • This Act has been subsumed into the four broad labour codes notified by the Centre:
      • The Code on Wages, 2019;
      • The Industrial Relations Code, 2020;
      • The Code on Social Security, 2020; and
      • The Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2020.
  • These have not been implemented yet.
  • Also, the registration under the inter-state migrant workers’ act is negligible. This is due to:
      • Lack of awareness about the rights and the benefits of registration under the Act.
      • Complex registration process
      • Lack of enforcement: reduces the incentive for migrant workers to register.
      • Inadequate infrastructure to register and monitor the movement of migrant workers.
      • Fear of losing jobs: Migrant workers often fear that registering under the Act will lead to loss of employment, as employers may prefer to hire workers who are not registered.
      • Informal nature of work: Many migrants work in the informal sector, which is not covered by the Act, and hence, they are not required to register.


Way forward

  • While the necessity and importance of migration cannot be overlooked, few concerns raised by locals in the TN need redressal, if there are alleging bias in government recruitment, where people with fluency in Hindi are preferred over the locals.
  • However, these concerns should not lead to an anti-migrant mindset and a holistic policy to accommodate migrant workers should be adopted.
  • Lessons could also be drawn from neighbouring states like Kerala, which had witnessed more in-migration than Tamil Nadu but doing far better in terms of interventions to accommodate migrant workers owing to its home population becoming stagnant due to low fertility rate.


SourceThe Indian Express


QUESTION – Internal migration in India is not just a tool for economic emancipation but social cohesion in our society. Yet, preference for local has hampered this stream of progress. Discuss how? Share a recent example from society.