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Feb. 26, 2017
Venue: Executive Holiday, House No. 03, Kitab Bhawan lane, Ram Krishna Path, North S. K. Puri (Beside Krishna Apartment), Boring Road, Patna-800001
Panelists: Prof. Ravi Srivastava, JNU; Shri Subhash Bhatnagar, Trade Unionist, Delhi; Shri Ashish Ranjan, NAPM, Bihar; and Shri Umi Daniel, Aide-et-Action, Bhubaneswar
Moderator: Prof. Navin Chandra
The round table on migration is dedicated to a discussion on policy measures and possible trajectory for government policy for migrant labor. Internal migration is a pervasive reality in India as an estimated 120 million persons migrate from rural areas to urban labour markets. In recent decades, the rate of growth of female labour migration has far exceeded that of male labour migration. The labour out-migration is mainly from poorer regions, states and districts; tribal areas; areas that face frequent problems of drought, floods, conflicts; and states that has highest rural population. Demographically, labour migrants come mostly from the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Muslim minorities, younger age-group, less educated, less skilled, and economically poor groups. Construction work, domestic work, textile, brick kiln, transportation, mines and quarries, and agriculture are the top employers of the migrant workers. Labour contractors are major source of recruitment of migrant labour but in recent times, social networks of the migrants have also emerged as a facilitating factor in long-distance migration.
Despite enormous contribution of the migrant workforce in India’s economy, their well-being remains a major challenge as the policy and legal framework in the country have largely overlooked them. No state government has ever tried to enforce the Inter-State Migrant Workers Act, 1979 which had the potential to make some impact on the plight of the migrants. The overwhelming majority of the migrants finds employment in the unorganized sector where workers are largely devoid of legal and social protection, are poorly paid, denied fair work as well as living conditions and are subjected to various insecurities. The National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector (NCEUS) in its landmark report in 2006 has made out a case for national minimum social security to all unorganized/informal workers. This led to the enactment of the Unorganised Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008 which tries to address the issue of lack of social protection for workers to meet such contingencies as ill-health, accident, death, and old age.
Thus, the past two decades have seen parallel and opposite processes happening simultaneously - on the one hand, sustained attacks on labour rights in the wake of Liberalisation and, on the other, resistance and labour movements leading to a new policy framework. It is in this backdrop that the policy round table is being held. The objective of the round table is to take a stock of current labour conditions in its legal, political, and social framework and come up with ideas about how to facilitate better migration outcomes and how best to give directions to policy dialogues around migrant labour. In this context the question of portability of rights across the country acquires significance. A thorough discussion would take place on the challenges faced by government both from popular opinion and “rule of experts.” It is important to see this question, also, in the context of the ongoing crisis in politics and economy around the world. The round table, hopefully, will open up new avenues for thinking about migrant labour in terms of law, governance, rights, and more importantly political action.
Some Questions for the Policy Round Table on Migration
You are cordially invited to this public event.
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