Indian Economy Indian Polity Indian Society

Migrant Workers in India

As per the census, the level of urbanization in India has increased from 27.81% in 2001 to 31.16% in 2011. Urbanization in India is a consequence of demographic explosion and poverty-induced rural-urban migration.

Top States in India that receive migrant workers, largely temporary and seasonal, on a large scale. They work in unskilled or semi-skilled jobs in a wide range of activities. Main reason behind this Internal Migration is to gather labour at the lowest possible wage rate and increase profit margins.

 

PROBLEMS:

  • Separate labour market for migrant workers makes way for their exploitation.
  • Low wages, long working hours without any overtime benefits, and almost no social protection.
  • Bad living conditions I.e., work-sites huts, roads, slums and in illegal settlements etc.
  • Above conditions induce no or lesser savings and makes them vulnerable even to go back home.
  • Local workers resent the presence of migrant workers. They feel that their jobs are taken away by them.
  • Unsafe feeling and cases of violence against migrant workers, as recently seen in Gujarat.
  • Major problem is that Rights and Entitlements of Migrant Workers are only on papers.

GOVERNMENT INITIATIVES:

  • Under the Inter-State Migrant Workmen Act and other labour laws, migrant workers are legally entitled to all their basic labour rights like minimum wages, regular wage payment, regular working hours and overtime payment etc.
  • Decent working and living conditions which include taking care of the health and education of their children is also included in laws.
  • Various other laws and bills like “The Payment of Bonus Act, 2015, Pradhan Mantri Matritva Vandana Yojana, Employees compensation Act, Labour codes etc. have made some effective changes.

WAY FORWARD:

  • State and Central governments should join hands for improving the conditions of workers in the economy.
  • More robust implementation and tracking of laws related to labour is the need of the hour.
  • Measures for fair completion among labour market like ranking companies and regulations as per labour laws and labour treatment can be opted.
  • Labours needs to be sensitized about their entitlements and laws.

This situation may jeopardize our fundamental rights like Article 19 regarding to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India; and to practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business which is equally true for labours. Unlocking India’s true economic potential lies in ensuring that more of its workers find opportunities internally. To achieve that, the government needs to recognize that internal migrants may play a bigger role in India’s economic future.

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