India as a nation has seen a high migration rate in recent years. Over 98 million people migrated from one place to another in 1990s, the highest for any decade since independence according to the 2001 census details. However in 1970s migration was slowing down. The number of migrants during 1991-2001 increased by about 22% over the previous decade an increase since 1951.
Apart from women migrating due to marriage, employment is the biggest reason for migration. The number of job seekers among all migrants has increased by 45% over the previous decade. Nearly 14 million people migrated from their place of birth in search of jobs. The overwhelming majority of these-12 million was men.
Migrants have created pressure on others who are in same job market. While freedom to migrate within the country is an enshrined right the uneven development, levels of desperation and other factors have created friction points. Most people migrate because of a combination of push and pull factors. Lack of rural employment, fragmentation of land holdings and declining public investment in agriculture create a crisis for rural Indians. Urban areas and some rural areas with industrial development or high agricultural production offer better prospects for jobs or self-employment.
Contrary to common perception the search for jobs is more often within the same state than in some other state. About 9 million persons were intra-state migrants often within the district while 5 million went to other states. The intra-state figures include people moving from villages to nearby towns and cities in search of better jobs. Over 5.7 million persons who moved in search of jobs migrated from rural to urban areas. Another 4.5 million migrated within the rural areas looking for work.
The data shows that among people migrating in search of jobs, literates constitute the vast bulk over 10.6 million while illiterate migrants are about 3.3 million. Three out of four job-seeking migrants are educated males. Among literate, migrant job-seekers less than 1% was women. Nearly 40% of literate persons migrating for work had studied up to secondary level and another 32% had studied beyond. Graduates numbered over 1.8 million or about 17% while technical diploma or degree holders constituted about 8%.
About 72% do get regular work but over 11 million get less than 183 days of work in a year. This is a higher proportion than non-migrants. Independent NSS data from 1999-2000 indicates that migrant workers take up regular or casual employment or self-employment in nearly equal proportions. Around 8.1 million of the migrants were reported as available for or seeking work. The census data may not fully reflect seasonal or circulatory migration, estimated to be up to 10 million by the National Commission on Rural Labor. Seasonal migrants are usually dalits and other highly impoverished sections that go out to work in harvesting seasons or on construction sites, in brick kilns, salt mines etc.They go out to pay their debts and to survive.
No of Migrants (in million)