IANS  New Delhi, October 17, 2013

Breaking the myth that internal migration is burdening the cities, a new study says migrants are in fact contributing largely to the gross domestic product (GDP) and proving to be a subsidy.

A Unesco report on social inclusion of internal migrants in India released Thursday says migrants are looked upon as “outsiders” and considered a burden, but the fact is that internal migrants contribute cheap labour for manufacturing and service and, in doing so, contribute to national GDP.

“Far from being a drain and burden, migrants are in fact proving subsidy”.

The report says migrants do the dirty, dangerous and degrading jobs which the locals do not want to do. It is “different from stealing jobs”.

“By not accepting migrants or providing facilities to them, governments are merely increasing the risk and costs of migration and reducing its development potential,” the report adds.

It also says the migrants, in practice, do not have “freedom and dignity that the constitution promises”.

“Policy makers and urban planners mostly view migration as negative process and have therefore created an inconducive and unsupportive environment through neglect and inaction,” it says.

Internal migration constitutes about one-third of India’s urban population and this proportion has been increasing.  In Asia, Africa and Latin America, approximately 40 percent of urban growth results from internal migration.  In India, Surat, with 58 percent, has the highest percentage of migrant population. For both Mumbai and Delhi, this percentage is 43.

Migrant women workers are a neglected lot

The report also underscores that not enough attention is being paid to the problems of migrant women who suffer due to problems varying from hygiene to sexual harassment.

“There is an urgent need for promoting safe migration for women migrant workers, in particular domestic workers, who constitute a highly vulnerable and socially sensitive group,” the report said.

Marriage is given by women respondents as the most prominent reason for migration. However, many get engaged in economic activities, but it is generally not recorded.

“Women migrants, especially those in lower-end informal sector occupations, remain invisible and discriminated against in the workforce. Female migrants are less well represented in regular jobs and are more likely to be self-employed,” the report says.  However, they are paid lesser than male migrants and don’t have facilities like maternity leave, other maternity entitlements, or breast-feeding breaks at worksite.

“Gender-related violence is another critical issue as these women are vulnerable to sexual harassment and abuse, especially in the hands of agents and contractors … Poverty may cause women migrants to get pushed into sex work at the destination,” the report said.




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