From the Viewsroom

From the Viewsroom: Open the doors

Tina Edwin | Updated on January 13, 2018

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India needs its own migrant-friendly policy

One part of India is growing old; another is still very young and will stay that way for some years. In peninsular India, most women are now giving birth to one or two children. In the hinterland States of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, an average of three children per woman continues to be the norm. Thanks to the rising population of children in the northern States, India remains a young nation and that is often seen as a positive for India. But in the next decade or so, peninsular India, with fewer children being born, will experience slower growth. Its working-age population will fall and its non-working age population will rise. That would effectively mean that their demographic dividend will first peak and then deteriorate. The situation in the hinterland would be the opposite — the working age population is set for a big jump and many joining the labour force will be unable to find employment.

Such a situation would lead to a spurt in migration from the hinterland to States such as Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal. Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh would be the major source of these migrants. Increased migration will bring with it greater conflict between classes and cultures — and perhaps even demands from local residents and State-level political parties to control the flow of the immigrants. Maharashtra has witnessed such conflicts orchestrated by the Shiv Sena and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena in the past, with immigrants from UP and other States becoming victims.

Therefore, local people and regional parties must become more welcoming of migrant workers rather than hostile and suspicious. These States must also work out programmes that would help the workers, particularly those coming to take up low-paid, low-skill jobs, to understand local customs and cultures in order to integrate.

Tina Edwin Senior Deputy Editor

Published on February 28, 2017

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