reverse-migration-and-associated-problems-summary

Context: Reverse migration can be witnessed in India, as millions of migrant workers go back to their homes as the economy has come to standstill as a result of efforts to contain the spread of the COVID-19. 

Migration  and reverse migration:

  • Migration from rural to urban areas is a key in any country’s development. In India’s case, the surplus labour in agriculture migrates for jobs in the more productive sectors of the economy. 
  • However, most migrant jobs in urban areas are informal and are unable to provide social security. 
  • A shock such as covid-19 can put migrant workers in a vulnerable situation, in which reverse migration might seem to be the most logical coping mechanism available to them. 
  • The fear of losing their sources of livelihood and shelter in urban areas during a lockdown forced migrant labourers to journey home.

Back to base.

Are there jobs for them in the rural economy?

  • Rural economy incapable to provide jobs: Rural India’s overburdened and agriculture-dependent economy with an underemployed working population is incapable of taking care of millions of workers going home. 
    • Also, the lack of a diversified economic structure makes it tough to  create alternative sources of employment. 

Impact on economy:

  • As India reopens the economy post the lockdown, labour shortage in urban centres has implications and can delay economic recovery, which can affect social stability.
  • The construction industry, which is the nation’s largest job creator, is already facing severe labour shortage. 
  • The productivity of the workforce involved in agriculture is lower than the urban workforce. 
  • Millions of workers going back to the rural economy could bring national productivity levels down and prolong economic recovery post covid-19.
  • States that experience high rates of out-migration to urban areas are also the ones that have high rates of unemployment. 
    • It might be exceedingly difficult for them to absorb returning migrants
  • On the other hand, the rich states of western and south India who host migrant workers are in a hurry to send them home to avoid unrest.

Conclusion:

  • It is likely that the reverse migration is temporary and will return to normal after the threat of covid-19 has subsided. 
  • However, the rural economy cannot match wage expectations of inter-state migrants. 
  • As India continues to develop, job opportunities will be created across sectors, gradually leading to more migration from rural to urban areas.
  • A ray of hope in MGNREGS and MSME: Programmes such as the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and the decision to boost micro, small, and medium enterprises can help bring the rural economy back on track.

Source: https://www.livemint.com/news/india/migrating-out-of-the-big-cities-may-cause-more-pain-11591722980811.html