Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 35


International labour migration is defined as the movement of people from

one country to another for the purpose of employment. Today, an estimated 105
million persons are working in a country other than their country of birth. Labour
mobility has become a key feature of globalization and the global economy with
migrant workers earning US$ 440 billion in 2011, and the World Bank estimating
that more than $350 billion of that total was transferred to developing countries in
the form of remittances. However, despite the efforts made to ensure the protection
of migrant workers, many remain vulnerable and assume significant risks during the
migration process.
International labour migration is defined as the movement of people from one
country to another for the purpose of employment. Today, an estimated 105 million
persons are working in a country other than their country of birth. Labour mobility
has become a key feature of globalization and the global economy with migrant
workers earning US$ 440 billion in 2011, and the World Bank estimating that more
than $350 billion of that total was transferred to developing countries in the form of
remittances. However, despite the efforts made to ensure the protection of migrant
workers, many remain vulnerable and assume significant risks during the migration
When properly managed, labour migration has far-reaching potential for the
migrants, their communities, the countries of origin and destination, and for
employers. While job creation in the home country is the preferred option,
demographic, social and economic factors are increasingly the drivers of migration.
As a result, a growing number of both sending and receiving countries view
international labour migration as an integral part of their national development and
employment strategies. On one hand, countries of origin benefit from labour
migration because it relieves unemployment pressures and contributes to
development through remittances, knowledge transfer, and the creation of business
and trade networks. On the other hand, for destination countries facing labour

shortages, orderly and well-managed labour migration can lighten labour scarcity
and facilitate mobility.
International migration occurs when peoples cross state boundaries and stay
in the host state for some minimum length of time. Migration occurs for many
reasons. Many people leave their home countries in order to look for economic
opportunities in another country. Others migrate to be with family members who
have migrated or because of political conditions in their countries. Education is
another reason for international migration, as students pursue their studies abroad.
While there are several different potential systems for categorizing international
migrants, one system organizes them into nine groups: temporary labour migrants;
irregular, illegal, or undocumented migrants; highly skilled and business migrants;
refugees; asylum seekers; forced migration; family members; return migrants; and
long-term, low-skilled migrants. These migrants can also be divided into two large
groups, permanent and temporary. Permanent migrants intend to establish their
permanent residence in a new country and possibly obtain that countrys citizenship.
Temporary migrants intend only to stay for a limited periods of time; perhaps until
the end of a particular program of study or for the duration of a work contract or a
certain work season. Both types of migrants have a significant effect on the
economies and societies of the chosen destination country and the country of origin.
Similarly, the countries which receive these migrants are often grouped into
four categories: traditional settlement countries, European countries which
encouraged labour migration after World War II, European countries which receive a
significant portion of their immigrant populations from their former colonies, and
countries which formerly were points of emigration but have recently emerged as
immigrant destinations.

Looking at the history of migration from Indian subcontinent in the last two
centuries four waves of substantial emigration are quite distinguishable. The ftrst
wave, which started in the 1830s and spanned a little over a century, dominated by
Indian labour imported to ftll the supply gaps in the plantations in British and other
colonies, viz., Mauritius, South Africa, Malaya, Fiji, and other Caribbean countries.
During the second wave that took place especially after World War II, majority of
Indian migrants headed towards the industrial nations of Europe and North America.
Emigration of Indians to the Gulf in the 1970s, particularly in the wake of massive
extraction of petroleum products and the subsequent construction boom, constitutes
the third wave. Beginning in the 19908 and picking up in the 21'1 century, the fourth
phase of substantial migration from India consists of software professionals who
have migrated to the Western countries in general and to the US in particular.
But unlike these earlier waves, migration patterns from India today portray a
paradigm shift. Not only the UK, the US, Australia, Canada and the Gulf but a large
number of countries in the European Union, countries in Africa and Asia are
emerging major destinations for Indian emigrants. Moreover, India is not only seen
as a source of getting manpower, it also continues to be considered a must
destination for internationally renowned educational institutions to woo the Indian
students (Khadria, 2002). This provides foreign exchange to the education exporting
institutions/ countries and enhances students' educational and economic profile. A
foreign degree also opens gateways to enter in the labour market of that country
unless the law of the immigrant country prohibits them.
The immigration policies of the destination countries are being reshaped and
remodeled by three important factors, va.,

the demographic imbalances and consequent labour shortages,

pressure of increasing internationalization and competition for superiority in the

global market,

security concerns to safeguard the interests of their local citizens from

undesirable immigrants and terrorist activities. The receiving countries are now
focussing on skilled migrants, favouring their temporary stay. For example, France is
aiming at recruiting more skilled workers whereas curtailing the family reunion
category (Murphy, 2006).
The immigration countries whose policies must be taken into account while
framing India's migration policy could be classified into the following geographical

The United Kingdom

North America, viz., USA and Canada

Australia and New Zealand

Gulf counties

The European Union (ED) - old and new members of the EU

Newly emerging labour-importing countries in East and South-East Asia,

VIZ.,Singapore, Malaysia,Japan, South Korea, etc.

Focusing on emigration, the questions facing India's policy stance are

Whether more outrnigration is good and should be encouraged, or is bad and
therefore should be discouraged? Good for whom, bad for whom - for the country as
a whole, for the migrants, for the family accompanying them, for those left behind?
Is there an optimum rate of outrnigration? Whose emigration should be supported
and whose to be restricted? These are tough and serious questions which have no
unique answers for all times to come. The migration policy addressing them must
therefore have an implicit or explicit flexibility for incorporating amendments
according to the changing circumstances and paradigms.
In the domain of migration policy, there is a general lack of emigration policies in
the modem-day world because of one simple reason, that is, given that the right to leave a

country is considered absolute, emigration policies are difficult to implement. In migration

policy, what most countries have, therefore, are immigration policies that control and
monitor the inflow of people from across the borders. India's migration policy too cannot,
therefore, be shaped in isolation of

The immigration policies of the destination countries,

India's own immigration policy. In other words, there is a strong rationale

for framing a holistic migration policy of India incorporating all aspects of
the phenomenon.

The paper addresses issues related to the promotion and sustenance of international
labour migration from India on the one hand and protection of migrant workers on
the other. It reveals that labour migration flows from India since 1990s have not only
registered impressive growth in respect of the traditional destinations like the United
States of America, the United Kingdom, Canada and the Gulf countries but also have
diversified and expanded to newly emerging migrant destinations in continental
Europe, Australasia, East Asia and South-East Asia. The paper observes that a proactive migration policy framework will further cement these trends.
The paper provides a detailed evaluation of the Emigration Act, 1983, the most
important policy instrument governing the migration of Indian workers for overseas
employment on a contractual basis.
It argues that that the Act needs to be reoriented so that it provides a legislative basis
for better protection and welfare of the migrants on the one hand and for the active
promotion of international labour migration from India on the other. It notes that the
Act needs to be modified to check the activities of the unscrupulous agents and to
make it harder for agents to cheat Indian workers who are keen on migrating
overseas for employment. The grievance redressal system must also be made more
It observes that apart from strengthening and reorienting the Emigration Act, the
system to monitor its implementation should be strengthened. The paper further
highlights the need for international labour migration policy to provide increasing
emphasis to promotion and facilitation of external labour flows from India and not
be limited only to regulating and protecting functions of the State.

The paper observes that the rapid expansion of IT and IT enabled industry in India
during the last decade is encouraging a large number of Indian migrants to return and
set up business ventures in India.
Such a trend of to and fro movement of professionals and ideas require that the
migration of highly skilled labour be possibly situated within the framework of
'brain gain'. The paper notes that the changing immigration policies in major
destination countries must be reviewed from time to time so that it serves as the
basis for evolving more acceptable mutual agreements on labour migration between
India and the destination countries. Considering that India is the world's largest
recipient of migrant workers' remittances, the paper notes that there is a need evolve
an information-based and value-generative plan to make optimum use of the
available funds. The paper also highlights the need for strengthening multilateral
cooperation to transform migration into an efficient, orderly and humane process.


Migration from one area to another in search of improved livelihoods is a key
feature of human history. While some regions and sectors fall behind in their
capacity to support populations, others move ahead and people migrate to access
these emerging opportunities. Industrialisation widens the gap between rural and
urban areas, inducing a shift of the workforce towards industrialising areas. There is
extensive debate on the factors that cause populations to shift, from those that
emphasise individual rationality and household behaviour to those that cite the
structural logic of capitalist development.
Moreover, numerous studies show that the process of migration is influenced
by social, cultural and economic factors and outcomes can be vastly different for
men and women, for different groups and different locations. In the past few decades
new patterns have emerged, challenging old paradigms. First, there have been shifts
of the workforce towards the tertiary sector in both developed and developing
countries. Secondly, in developed countries, urban congestion and the growth of
communication infrastructure has slowed down urbanisation. Thirdly, in developing
countries, the workforce shift towards the secondary/tertiary sector has been slow
and has been dominated by an expansion of the informal sector, which has grown
over time. In countries like India, permanent shifts of population and workforce coexist with the circulatory movement of populations between lagging and developed
regions and between rural and urban areas, mostly being absorbed in the unorganised
sector of the economy. Such movements show little sign of abating with
development. The sources of early migration flows were primarily agroecological,related to population expansion to new settlements or to conquests (e.g.
Eaton, 1984). There is considerable information on patterns of migration during the
British period.
Indian emigration abroad was one consequence of the abolition of slavery
and the demand for replacement labour. This was normally through indenture, a form
of contract labour whereby a person would bind himself for a specified period of
service, usually four to seven years in return for payment of their passage.

They left for British, Dutch and French colonies to work in sugar plantations
and subsequently for the tea and rubber plantations of Southeast Asia. Similar
demands for labour rose internally with the growth of tea, coffee and rubber
plantations, coal mines and, later, modern industry. Much of this labour was
procured through some form of organised mediation and some portion of it remained
circulatory and retained strong links with the areas of origin. But as it settled down,
it provided a bridgehead to other migrants, whose numbers grew to satisfy colonial
demand. Urban pockets like Kolkatta and Mumbai attracted rural labourers mainly
from labour catchment areas like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Orissa in the east and
Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and parts of Kerala and Karnataka in the south. The
historical pattern of the flow of labourers persisted even after independence.
In a country of Indias size, the existence of significant regional disparities
should not come as a surprise. The scale and growth of these disparities is, however,
of concern. The ratio between the highest to lowest state per capita incomes,
represented by Punjab and Bihar in the first period, and Maharashtra and Bihar in the
second period, has increased from 2.6 in 198083 to 3.5 in 199700. The Planning
Commission estimates that 26.1% of Indias population lives below the poverty line
(based on the controversial National Sample Survey of 19992000). The rural poor
has gradually concentrated in eastern India and rain fed parts of central and western
India, which continue to have low-productivity agriculture. In 19992000, the states
with the highest poverty levels were: Orissa (47.2%), Bihar (41.2%), Madhya
Pradesh (37.4%), Assam(36.1%) and Uttar Pradesh (31.2%) Generally, Indias poor
have meagre physical assets and human capital and belong largely to socially
deprived groups such as scheduled castes (SC) and tribes (ST). Women share an
extraordinary burden of deprivation within households. The poor rely on different
types of work to construct a livelihood; wage labour and cultivation are the most
important. Earlier studies have shown that poor households participate extensively in
migration. More recent studies have reconfirmed that migration is a significant
livelihood strategy for poor households in several regions of India.


In this era of globalization, almost all countries in the world are involved in
migration as countries of origin, destination, or transitor all three. Of the several
millions of people living outside their countries of birth, the ILO estimates that
almost 90 per cent are migrant workers and their families. While international
migration can be a positive experience for migrant workers, many suffer poor
working and living conditions, including low wages, unsafe work environments, a
virtual absence of the social safety net, denial of freedom of association and
workers rights, discrimination and xenophobia. Therefore, the ILO approaches
international labour migrationinternational migration undertaken for workfrom
a labour market and rights-based perspective with the intent to promote decent
working conditions for migrants as well as migrants labour and human rights.

As the UN specialized agency on labour issues, the ILO has been dealing with
labour migration since its foundation in 1919. The very Constitution of the ILO
specifically mandates the organization in its Preamble to give attention to the
"protection of the interests of workers when employed in countries other than their
own". The International Migration Branch (MIGRANT) is the main unit responsible
for labour migration issues in the ILO.
MIGRANT promotes the ratification and implementation of international
standards; facilitates the participation of ILO's tripartite constituents in formulating
and implementing migration policy; provides advisory services and a forum for
consultations; serves as a global knowledge base on international labour migration;
and conducts or coordinates various projects to strengthen the capacity of ILO's
tripartite constituents and other relevant partners such as non-governmental
organizations and migrants' associations, to deal with a wide range of labour
migration issues.



In India, the migration of its labour force within and across its national
boundaries is nothing new. Indias geographical position has ensured contact with
the Persian Gulf region and South East Asian countries for trade in goods and
movement of people, a contact which goes back to several centuries. The migration
of workers on a significant scale was, however, to come much later. It began in the
colonial era and continues now to independent India.
Migratory flow during the period of colonial domination was very much tied
to the investment interests of the colonial rulers and took place under their aegis.
For instance a great part of the nineteenth century and the early twentieth century
witnessed a regular migration of Indian workers as indentured labour for plantations
or mines in the British colonies; this migration was to faraway places such as
Guyana, Jamaica and Fiji, to not so-distant lands such as Malaysia and Singapore
and even to neighbouring countries such as Sri Lanka and Burma.
Since Independence, two distinct types of labour migration have been taking
place from India. The first is characterized by a movement of persons with technical
skills and professional expertise to the industrialized countries like the United States,
Britain and Canada which began to proliferate in the early 1950s. The second type of
migration pertains to the flow of labour to the oil exporting countries of the Middle
East which acquired substantial dimensions after the dramatic oil price increases of
1973-74 and 1979. The nature of this recent wave of migration is strikingly different,
as an overwhelming proportion of these migrants are in the category of unskilled
workers and semi-skilled workers skilled in manual or clerical occupations.



IOM strives to protect migrant workers and to optimize the benefits of labour
migration for both the country of origin and destination as well as for the migrants

In its labour migration programming, IOM builds capacity in labour migration
management by:
offering policy and technical advice to national governments;
supporting the development of policies, legislation and administrative structures that
promote efficient, effective and transparent labour migration flows;
assisting governments to promote safe labour migration practices for their nationals;
facilitating the recruitment of workers, including pre-departure training and
embarkation preparedness;
Promoting the integration of labour migrants in their new workplace and society.

IOM implements various labour migration programs in 70 countries.
beneficiaries of these programs include:
migrants, their families and their communities;
local and national governments;
private sector entities such as employers and industry representatives; and



regional organizations.

IOMs Approach
Through its global network of more than 440 offices, IOM is able to bring together
governments, civil society and the private sector to establish labour migration
programs and mechanisms that balance their various interests, and address migrants
needs. The IOM approach to international labour migration is to foster the synergies
between labour migration and development, and to promote legal avenues of labour
migration as an alternative to irregular migration. Moreover, IOM aims to facilitate
the development of policies and programs that are in the interest of migrants and
society, providing effective protection and assistance to labour migrants and their


From 1970 to 2005, the stock of international migrants in the world increased from
nearly 82 million to just over 190 million, according to United Nations (UN)
1 In the same period the volume of global exports expanded more thansevenfold
while foreign direct investment, measured in U.S. dollars,grew to more than one
hundred times the 1970 level by 2000.
2 Although international migration has come to attract a great deal of attention
during the recent decades of globalization, the expansion in the international
movement of people has lagged far behind those of commodities and capital. Indeed,
as a fraction of world population, the stock of migrants rose only slightly, from 2.5
percent in 1960 to 2.9 percent by 2005. And that modest increase was due in part to
the dissolution of the former Soviet Union, which redefined large numbers of

internal migrants as international migrants although they did not cross a border in the
interim. Attempts to barricade borders may not have been the dominant factor in
limiting expansion of international migration. Irregular migration is ubiquitous and
pervasive. In the United States there are probably more than ten million irregular
migrants, and additional border enforcement seems to have done little
to stem the flow (Hanson 2006). Various observers estimate some 510 million
irregular migrants in Europe; and even such nations as Japan and Saudi Arabia are
reported to have significant numbers of undocumented workers.3 Among many of
the developing nations, where entry requirements are often ill defined and poorly
enforced, irregular migration is actually the norm. The dominant restraint on
international migration is surely a reluctance to relocate, despite widening income
gaps between the poorest and wealthiest nations.Most people would simply rather
stay home, though many are impelled to migrate by the failure of employment to
keep pace with the labor force or the lack of security in their home countries.
Leaving out the newly defined migrants created by the dissolution of the former
Soviet Union, about 56 percent of the worlds international migrants were in the
More Developed Regions (according to UN definitions) in 2000. This followed a
steady increase from 40 percent in 1960. However, a large portion of migrants in the
More Developed Regions are from other high-income countries.For instance, almost
exactly half of the stock of migrants in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation
and Development (OECD) member states in 2000 were from other OECD states;
more than a third of all migrants came from OECD members other than Mexico and
Turkey. Since 1990 and the release of the findings of the U.S. Commission for the
Study of International Migration and Cooperative Economic Development, the
notion of a migration hump has passed into conventional wisdom. The notion is
that emigration rates initially rise then fall as states become more prosperous.
Yet there is little evidence to support this hypothesis.4 Net migration from
theRobert E. B. Lucas |least-developed countries is no lower than from their slightly
more prosperous counterparts. It is true, however, that the poorest nations have lower
emigration rates to the OECD states. Much of the migration from the leastdeveloped countries appears to be into neighboring developing countries. Geography

has much to do with this. Distance deters migration, and the least-developed
countries are generally more remote from the industrialized world. Indeed, given the

major region of origin, there is no clear tendency for emigration to the OECD states
to increase with the level of development; the lack of migration from the lowestincome countries to the OECD states thus reflects their geography far more than
reflecting any migration hump based on income.



The initial impact of migrants arrival upon the host countrys economy depends
upon a number of circumstances. In contexts where wages are relatively flexible,
such as the United States, there is some evidence that the added supply of labor
depresses wages of workers within the same broad education level (Borjas 2003).
Where wages are less flexible, such as in much of Europe, the impact tends to be
revealed in higher unemployment (Mnz et al. 2006). Yet, in both cases, the
magnitudes of such impacts appear to be relatively small. More generally, the
employability and productivity of migrants depends upon how well their skill
profiles match the demands of employers. A few countries, including Australia and
Canada, have adopted a point scheme to filter acceptable immigrants in an effort to
enhance the likelihood of job matching.
However, where prior job offers are required for entry, as in some categories of
migrants to the United States, the demands of employers are probably more closely
matched. Indeed, it may be argued that a large portion of irregular migration is
driven fairly directly by employers demands. To this extent, penalties on employers
for hiring irregular migrants is probably one of the most effective ways of limiting
undocumented immigration, but few societies possess the political will to impose
and enforce such penalties (Martin and Miller 2000; Hanson 2006). In contrast,
employers demands may reflect hardly at all on the sudden mass influx of refugees
that many developing countries have witnessed.
Granting asylum to large refugee populations may impose substantial costs on some
very low-income countries; finding livelihoods to support those remaining in camps
and absorbing others into the domestic labor market become a high priority.The
initial impacts of migration upon The initial impacts of migration upon the host
country are thus quite mixed.Though in most situations, the net overall impact on
incomes of natives is probably small. Over time, other factors come into play. First,
the mix of industrial activities in the host country may begin to adapt to the new


For instance, some of the more labor-intensive forms of agriculture would

probably not exist today in EU countries and in the United States were it not for
access to migrant workers. The fact that some of these lines of agricultural products
are also subsidized raises curious anomalies with respect to public policy.
Second, migration can have an impact on the fiscal balance of the host state.
Whether migrants are net contributors to this balance depends upon, inter
alia,whether they are employed, whether taxes are collected out of their incomes,and
whether they are eligible for and need state support.8 Certainly some of the highincome nations with low or negative natural population growth rates are actively
considering the potential for migration to resolve the dynamic problem of supporting
an ageing population. More highly-skilled migrants are probably large net
contributors to the fiscal coffer, as are migrants of working age, and those who stay
only temporarily rather than becoming dependent upon state support in their old age.
Thus, unless migration is managed explicitly for this purpose, it is unlikely to offer a
major source of relief in the pending social security crises (Lee and Miller 2000).
It should also be noted that any such contributions of immigrant researchers are not
confined to the country of immigration alone: there is growing evidence of the
effects of research conducted in one country having substantial effects on technical
progress abroad as well (Coe and Helpman 1995; Eaton and Kortum 1996). It has
even been hypothesized that the concentration of highly-skilled persons in one
location may enhance the productivity and pay of each worker. Thus, immigration of
highly-skilled professionals could raise the productivity of their native colleagues.
Yet there is little evidence to support such positive spillover effects (Acemoglu and
Angrist 2001; Davies 2003).



There are both direct and indirect links between trade and migration. The
interchange of professionals and other skilled workers among countries is a direct
and necessary concomitance to merchandise trade and foreign direct investment.
Mode 4 of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) of the World Trade
Organization (WTO) provides a formal codification for the movement of persons to
deliver services in another country. To date, agreements under this provision have
been restricted almost entirely to the migration of highly-skilled and professional
service providers. The movement of professionals between the developing and
industrialized regions is predominantly one way: from the developing countries. The
industrialized nations have been more reluctant to admit low-skilled workers through
trade agreements, notwithstanding the tendency of some of these nations to turn a
blind eye to irregular migrations.
More indirectly, the globalization of trade could serve to diminish income
gaps and hence diminish migration pressures. Are trade and migration thus
substitutes? This remains an area of dispute. To the extent that southnorth trade is
shaped by an abundance of low-skilled workers in the south and by capital and skills
in the north, freer trade ought eventually to narrow the gaps in low-skilled workers
earnings, reducing the need to migrate. On the other hand, if the agglomeration of
highly-skilled persons in the industrialized countries serves to make each such
person more productive, then increased trade can exacerbate the pressures for a brain
drain, even in the long run. Perhaps far more importantly, the short-term impacts of
sudden trade liberalization can go either way, for workers across a range of skills.
For example, a country whose agricultural exports increase may face rising prices of
food at home under liberalization; that serves to undermine real wages. By contrast,
increased imports of less expensive agricultural goods may lower incomes for smallscale farmers.


Combined with macro-economic mismanagement and population growth,

trade liberalization in Mexico may well have exacerbated the exodus to the United
States, at least in the short term (Hanson 2006). More generally, liberalization
associated with stabilization and structural adjustment programs in the developing
countries following the debt crises of the 1980s, financial crises of the 1990s, and
transition in formerly socialist countries have initially undermined incomes at home
again adding to the pressures to move overseas.
Meanwhile, some aspects of trade protection in the north have probably exacerbated
migration pressures. It is an irony of the public policy in many of the industrialized
countries that subsidies and protection to low-skilled activities, notably agriculture,
stimulate precisely those sectors providing much of the employment to irregular
migrants. Whether the ubiquitous protection of agriculture in the industrialized states
harms living standards in the developing world, thus contributing even further to
migration pressures, is more ambiguous. Net food importers tend to gain from these
agricultural subsidies of the north as do food-exporting developing countries with
privileged export access to European markets. Protection of certain crops, such as
cotton in the United States, has most certainly harmed living standards among some
of the cotton exporters of Africa. There exists little or no coherence between the
trade and migration policies adopted by the hi gher-income countries. These two sets
of issues are the realms of separate ministries, which typically fail to coordinate,
despite the obvious links between their concerns.
Trade policies of both countries of origin and destination impact migration
outcomes. But migration also shapes trade
flows. The role of information provided by migrants in stimulating trade has already
been noted.In addition,the growing circular migration of scientists and engineers,
both among the countries of the north and between the developing and industrialized
regions, is a contributing factor in diffusing and shifting technological superiority
and hence reshaping trade patterns (Saxenian 1999).


Given the diversity in the nature of migration in India, the causes are also
bound to vary. Migration is influenced both by the pattern of development, and the
social structure. The National Commission on Rural Labour, focusing on seasonal
migration, concluded that uneven development was the main cause of seasonal
migration. Along with inter regional disparity, disparity between different socio
economic classes and the development policy adopted since independence has
accelerated the process of seasonal migration. In tribal regions, intrusion of
outsiders, the pattern of settlement, displacement and deforestation, also have played
a significant role. Most migration literature makes a distinction between pull and
push factors, which, however, do not operate in isolation of one another. Mobility










employment/livelihood, and there is some expectation of improvement in

circumstances through migration. The improvement sought may be better
employment or higher wages/incomes, but also maximization of family employment
or smoothing of employment/income/consumption over the year At one end of the
migration spectrum, workers could be locked into a debt-migration cycle, where
earnings from migration are used to repay debts incurred at home or in the
destination areas, thereby cementing the migration cycle. At the other end, migration
is largely voluntary, although shaped by their limited choices.
The NCRL has recognized the existence of this continuum for poor migrants by
distinguishing between rural labour migration for survival and for subsistence. The
landless poor, who mostly belong to lower caste, indigenous communities, from
economically backward regions, migrate for survival and constitute a significant
proportion of seasonal labour flow.The growth of intensive agriculture and
commercialization of agriculture since the late 1960s has led to peak periods of
labour demand, often also coinciding with a decline in local labour deployment. In
the case of labour flows to the rice producing belt of West Bengal, wage differentials
between the source and destination have been considered as the main reason for
migration. Moreover, absence of non-farm employment, low agricultural production

has resulted in a growth of seasonal migration. Migration decisions are influenced by

both individual and household characteristics as well as the social matrix, which is
best captured in social-anthropological studies.

Factors such as age, education level, wealth, land owned, productivity and
job opportunities influence the participation of individuals and households in
migration, but so do social attitudes and supporting social networks.


migration is essentially involuntary, it makes little sense to use voluntaristic models

to explain the phenomenon. In Dhule region sugarcane cultivation leads to high
demand for labour, but landowners recruit labourers from other districts for
harvesting as they can have effective control over the labour. Local labourers are
thus forced to migrate with their households to South Gujarat.
Labour mobility is one of the key features of economic development and its
characteristics are closely tied with the nature of this development. Historically,
development is associated with unevenness and structural change, giving an impetus
to the movement of workers from one region to another, and from one sector to
another. Even within the macro-structural features which determine the supply of,
and demand for, certain types of migrant labour, the pattern of migration depends on
a host of factors determined by labour market characteristics, together with
individual, household and community level features, and the existence of social
networks, among other things. These factors cumulatively determine the causes of
migration. On the other hand, labour migration plays a key role in influencing the
pattern of development, through its impact on a host of economic and non-economic
variables, both in the origin and destination areas.
Labour migration does not recognize bordersbut borders, whether urban,
state, or international influence migration through a host of policies and regulatory
measures. A key distinction between internal and international migration is the
existence of national regulatory frameworks such as immigration controls (which
leads to a distinction between regular and irregular migration). But regulatory
frameworks and restrictive policies also operate within nation states.

Early development literature conceptualized labour migration as occurring

from the rural to urban, agricultural to industrial, and informal to formal sectors.
However, the workforce pattern has changed across the world in favour of the

services sector, and the informal sector is more prominent today, both in developing
and developed countries than it was twenty or thirty years ago. In developing
countries, the informal sector is no longer conceived as a temporary destination for
migrants but in most cases, as a final destination. The (changing) structural features
of world capitalism have an important bearing on both internal and international
The theme on labour migration will explore all types of labour migration
internal, inter-state, cross-border and international. It will encourage cross
disciplinary studies and papers based on both fieldwork and secondary data.
We would welcome papers which explore not only economic issues but also
historical, political, sociological and psychological factors affecting labour migration
and the consequences of migration at more disaggregate levels, viz., for various
socio-economic strata and segments of the population and for women, men, the
elderly and children separately, wherever possible. The contributors should confine
themselves to the issue of worker migration, as conventionally defined in SNA
accounts, and to leave out those types of forced labour migration, which are not
conventionally included in work but are covered in international conventions on
forced labour and trafficking. The paper contributors should not be concerned with
other forms of non-labour migration (such as refugee or student migration) or with
population mobility, which is important for an understanding urban growth.



The paper uses data from Census of India 2001 as well as data from the
National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO) 55th Round on Migration. According
to Indian Census, a Person is considered a migrant if birthplace or place of last
residence is different from Place of enumeration. The National Sample Survey
Organization of Government of India Carried out an all-India survey on the situation
of employment and unemployment in India during the period July 1999-June 2000.
This 55th Round Data was published in August 2001. In this survey, data was
collected on migrants as well. It defines a migrant as a member of the sample
household who had stayed continuously for at least six months or more in a place
other than the place of enumeration. It collects the reasons for leaving the last usual

place of residence under the following heads:

(a) in search of employment
(b) in search of better employment
(c) to take up employment/better employment
(d) transfer of service/contract
(e) proximity to place of work
(f) studies
(g) acquisition of own house/flat
(h) housing problems
(i) social/political problem
(j) health

(k) marriage
(l) migration of parent/earning member of the family and
(m) others.
A simple analysis using vicariate tables has been carried out in the paper to
bring out the extent of employment oriented migration in India. Moreover, the paper
also attempts to study the difference between the stated reasons for migration and the
labor force participation, taking into account duration and educational qualification
of the migrants. Employment oriented migration


Poorer migrant workers, crowded into the lower ends of the labour market,
have few entitlements vis a vis their employers or the public authorities in the
destination areas. They have meagre personal assets and suffer a range of
deprivations in the destination areas. In the source areas, migration has both negative
and positive consequences for migrants and their families.

Migrant labourers, whetheragricultural or non-agricultural, live in
deplorableconditions. There is no provision of safe drinking water or hygienic
sanitation. Most live in open spaces or makeshift shelters in spite of the Contract
Labour Act which stipulates that the contractor or employer should provide suitable
accommodation (NCRL, 1991; GVT, 2002; Rani and Shylendra, 2001). Apart from
seasonal workers, workers who migrate to the cities for job live in parks and
pavements. Slum dwellers, who are mostly migrants, stay in deplorable conditions,
with inadequate water and bad drainage. Food costs more for migrant workers who
are not able to obtain temporary ration cards.


Labourers working in harsh circumstances and living in unhygienic
conditions suffer from serious occupational health problems and are vulnerable to
disease. Those working in quarries, construction sites and mines suffer from various
health hazards, mostly lung diseases. As the employer does not follow safety
measures, accidents are quite frequent. Migrants cannot access various health and
family care programmes due to their temporary status. Free public health care
facilities and programmes are not accessible to them. For women workers, there is


no provision of maternity leave, forcing them to resume work almost immediately

after childbirth. Workers, particularly those working in tile factories and brick kilns
suffer from occupational health hazards such as body ache, sunstroke and skin
irritation (NCRL, 1991).
Changes in migrants attitudes: Exposure to a different environment, cluding
the stresses that it carries, has a deep impact on the attitudes, habits and awareness
levels of migrant workers, depending upon the length of migration and the place to
which it occurs. Changes are more dramatic in the case of urban migrants. Migrant
workers develop greater awareness regarding conditions of work (Srivastava, 1999).
Life style and changes in awareness may lead to a mixed impact on family embers.
The increased awareness which migrants, especially in urban areas, gain often helps
them realise the importance of their childrens education.



The major impacts of migration on source areas occur through changes in the labour
market, income and assets, changes in the pattern of expenditure and investment.
Although seasonal outmigration potentially has the effect of smoothing out
employment over the annual cycle, rural outmigration could cause a tightening of the
labour market in some circumstances. However, empirical evidence from outmigrant areas does not often attest to this. This may be because outmigration often
takes place in labour surplus situations. There is also evidence of the replacement of
out-migrant male labour by female and even child labour. Study of seven villages in
Uttar Pradesh showed some variation over regions. While the situation in the study
villages in Eastern and central Uttar Pradesh conformed to a situation of labour
surplus, this was not the case in Western Uttar Pradesh where seasonal migration
coincided with the agricultural peak season (Rabi) and employers complained of
labour shortages. Significantly in all the regions studied, labourers on their part gave
uncertainty of employment along with employment conditions and poor relations
with their agricultural employers as the major reasons for outmigration.
Even if labour tightening is not an outcome, outmigration may still speed up
qualitative changes in existing labour relationships in rural areas, and thereby affect
the pace of change. This may occur in several ways. First, there is the well- umented
impact of migration on attitudes and awareness as migrant labourers and return
igrants are more reluctant to accept adverse employment conditions and low wages.
Secondly, outmigration leads to a more diversified livelihood strategy. Combined
with some increase in the income and employment portfolio of poor households, this
may tend to push up acceptable level of wages (reservation wages) in rural areas and
may make certain forms of abour relationships (as for example, those involving
personalised dependency) less acceptable.



Employment oriented migration is obtained by combining the migrants that
have given work/employment and business as their reason for migration. It is found
that employment oriented migration is quite small, particularly among female
migrants with just around 2 percent of total female migrants giving employment or
business as the reason for their migration.


Mankind and migration have been linked to each other since the beginning of
time; life without migration could not be thought of. Migration has a history of its
own, both at the national and international levels. The mobility of capital and
technology has indeed changed the history of peoples. At the same time, migration
has created a greater impact on history.
In India, the cultural ethos of the country has actually dissuaded people from
going abroad. There are myths and superstitions surrounding migration in almost
every Indian tradition. The fear of kala-pani, literally translated as black waters,
which meant ostracism, was a strong deterrent. Such myths were prevalent also in
other ancient cultures like China and Japan, preventing people from going abroad.
For a variety of reasons, be it economic or cultural or personal, the concept of we
and they, and the notions of individual, intellectual and spiritual pollution and the
fear of consequent ostracism prevented people from leaving their home soil until the
advent of the Europeanswhich in turn stimulated an interest for Indians to migrate
Characteristically, most of these migrants were poor, illiterate and unskilled. It
was supposed to be a voluntary system, but there are horror stories about coercion,
and how these people were picked up literally from the streets of their hometowns,
collected at various embarkation points, and forced to go to a foreign land, of which
they knew nothing about. Gender did not come in the way, and women picked up as
indentured labour were made to stay with men. Many were declared man and wife,

and packed off to foreign destinations. All said and done, this can be considered as a
precursor to the global migration of Indians.
However, there is the problem of Indian embassies in most of these countries
not being very cooperative towards the migrant community. The embassies are not
exactly attuned to the needs of these people, nor are the officials always aware of
their problems, their issues and their needs be it in terms of their labour contracts,
or the laws of the land. There is greater room for the Indian embassies to play a more
effective and cooperative role in this context. Many a time, because of the
indifference and the ignorance of the Indian missions in these countries, the migrant
workers are almost always at the mercy of the employers and the laws that they
adhere to. It is only in recent years that the Government is waking up to the need for
appointing a separate Labour Attach in the Indian embassies in these countries, to
cater to the demands of the workers, and to take care of their needs.
There is the possibility of migration from India growing in the coming years and
decades. The probability of a younger age population in India coupled with declining
birth-rates in the developed world leading to a labour shortage, be it unskilled,
skilled or professional, are among the causes. The interface between outsourcing,
migration and growing social networks are also contributory factors. There is also
the factor of newer destinations, Japan, for instance, emerging on the horizon. In
this, the Indians abroad have transitioned from being dependants to being dictators
through their significant presence, positional clout and numerical strength coupled
with effective networking, and coordinated organisation. There is now the Global
Organization for the People of Indian Origin (GOPIO), which has set its priorities in
pooling resources, both financial and professional, for the benefit of PIOs, in the
countries they come from, and in India. In all this, India derives material support
from the Diaspora, and they derive psychological satisfaction of being a part of the
Indian nationhood, and in the process of crafting a resurgent India.


Migration of labour has its positive as well as negative effects both on native
and host countries. We will examine these effects as under:

Labourers usually migrate from low wage counties to higher wage nations. Unless
prevented or guarded by law, wages will change in both countries. Such an effect on
wages is brought out in Home country and foreign. It is also possible that over a
period of time real wages may increase both in host countries and native countries. A
case study by Jeffery G. Williams, of eight countries, host countries Argentina,
Australia, Canada and United States of America and native (home) countries
Ireland, Italy, Norway and Sweden between the period 1870 and 1913 has come to
the conclusion that real wages during this period had increased in all the countries,
but substantially in the home countries.

Developed countries like Canada, Australia, some European countries and USA have
experienced scarcity of skilled as well as unskilled labour. Many Asian doctors and
engineers, nurses and teachers are employed in developed countries. Unskilled
labour migrated from developing countries, provided labour to those areas where the
native people would not wish to take up the jobs. This is more evident in the so
called dirty jobs. In USA such jobs are taken up by labourers from Mexico, South
American, Africa and Asia.

Migration takes place primarily in search of employment, to earn, more income and
to enjoy better quality of life. While enjoying these benefits in the host countries the

migrants at the disguised unemployment. In the early stages of large scale migration
from Europe to North America, it helped in mitigating population problem of
European countries.

Emigrants remit a part of their income back to their families in their native country.
Many of the European countries, Mexico and Asian countries have benefited from
the remittance of their emigrants. At present china and India receive a substantial
amount of remittance. It helps the home countries reduce their balance of payment
problem or increase investment at home; import capital goods thus promote
development of their economies.
Remittance would reduce over a period of time as the emigrants settle in the
migrated country along with their families. The size of the remittance depends on the
number of emigrants from a country and the nature and duration of employment.
Many countries including India, offer additional incentives to the emigrants to remit
and keep the money back in their home country.

Emigrants comprise people educated and trained at different levels. Majority of the
emigrants are of low education and unskilled. Emigrants also include highly
educated professionals such as doctors, engineers, professors and other technically
and professionally trained people. A good number of medical, engineering and
management students from India migrate to countries like USA, Canada, Australia,
New Zealand, Germany, France and to some rich gulf countries. These students take
the advantage of subsidised education financed by tax payer money and leave the
country when they become productive agents or labourers. Ts is also argued that
educated emigrants help the home countries when these countries rare not in a

position to employ them. Beside it also reduces the claim on goods and service of the
home country when labourers migrate.
Immigrants in a country belong to different countries, race, religion and culture.
They form their own groups based on the above factors. In the initial stages these
groups live in ghettoes. Social assimilation with the people of the host country
becomes difficult. In USA, Canada and Australia or in countries dominated by white
coloured people, social integration becomes difficult due to colour complex.
Religion is another factor which makes immigrants identify with the host country
where the majority belong to another religion. Cultural differences also deter the
process of integration specially when each group develops a complex of cultural
superiority. At times ethnic and religious differences create a problem for the host
country as it happens in UK and India.
It is a serious problem for many countries. USA has a large number of illegal
immigrants from Mexico. Similar problems are faced by Canada, Australia and some
of the European countries. Illegal migration to a neighbouring country is a common
occurrence due to political, economic, social and religious factors. India is facing
such a problem with illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Developed countries, specially organise labour through their Trade Union oppose the
liberal migration policy. They argue that the migrant labourers who are willing to
work at lower workers. However this argument does not merit serious consideration
wage rate in such economies is determined by market forces, Exploitation can be
prevented through minimum wage law, which also safeguards the interest of migrant


Immigrants positively contribute to the growth of the host country. When
immigrants constitute in large numbers, the host country requires to spend huge
amount of capital to provide the required economic and social infrastructure. As they
settledown permanently, the government requires to spend for providing social
security benefits. Expenditure on all these counts may create fiscal imbalance in the
form of increased budgetary deficit.


Migration has become a global phenomenon. As discussed earlier people
migrate to another country for a number of reasons of which economic and political
are the important ones. From our earlier explanation it is evident that migration has
positive as well as negative effects both on the host and native countries. In a
globalised world, the number of migrants is bound to increase. However in the larger
interest of nations and people (migrants) involved it is necessary to introduce
measures so that the positive effects are maximised while the negative ones are
minimised if they cannot be totally eliminated.
The suggestions in this direction are to promote labour rights to immigrants.
Allow the migrant workers to join Trade Unions. Treat immigrants on the same level
as those of workers of host country. Safety conditions should be made applicable
even if they are on temporary work. Promote ethical recruitment. Prevent
exploitation and discrimination. Reform work permits schemes to reduce powers of
employers. Legislate to prevent employers from withholding migrant workers
passport. Initiate international action to regulate the activities of private recruitment
agencies. All the countries should ratify 1990 UN convention on the protection of
rights of all migrant workers and their families.


International Migration.
Ghosh, Bimal. (2000) "Towards a New International Regime for Orderly Movements
of People", in Bimal
Ghosh (ed.), Managing Migration. Time for a New International Regime?, Oxford:
Oxford University
Press, pp. 6-26.
Goel, P. and Mishra, B. (2007), "Hyderabad, Bangalore: India's H-l B visa fraud
http://www.rediff.com/money/2007/jul/04visa.htm. July 7
Hollifield, James F. (1992) Immigrants, Markets, and States. The Political Economy
of Postwar Europe,
Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
India Together (2007), "Grounded till Thirty", August 21, 2007
Indian Express (2006), "India Links Illegal Immigrants to Terrorism", September 15,
http://www.expressindia.com/news/fullstory .php?newsid=73906.
10M (2000), World Migration Report 2000, International Organization for Migration
& United Nations.
-- (2005), World Migration 2005: Costs and Benefits of International Migration,