Home >News >India >70% reverse migrants ready to return as income falls sharply
A file photo of migrants from Jharkand, who were stranded in Raigad district of Maharashtra, walk along a road towards their native place during the ongoing nationwide covid-19 lockdown, in Navi Mumbai. (PTI)
A file photo of migrants from Jharkand, who were stranded in Raigad district of Maharashtra, walk along a road towards their native place during the ongoing nationwide covid-19 lockdown, in Navi Mumbai. (PTI)

70% reverse migrants ready to return as income falls sharply

  • The survey that captured data from six states showed that salaried migrants who had returned were the worst hit

NEW DELHI : An overwhelming majority of migrant laborers, who had moved back to their home states amid covid-induced lockdown, are now ready to return to urban areas for employment as their income has declined sharply, latest survey shows.

The survey on the impact of the pandemic on reverse migrants, that captured data from six states – UP, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal and Chhattisgarh – showed that salaried/regular wage migrants were the worst sufferers, while casual labourers in non-agri space were the least affected.

According to the survey, the income of the reverse migrants dived 85%, while in states like Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh (UP), it dropped as low as 94%. Also, 70% of the reverse migrants are ready to move back to cities for work; and in UP, Jharkhand this percentage stands above 90%, according to the study conducted by a team of retired statistics and economic service officers, and academicians.

Lack of livelihood options in villages, job offers from past employers with same or more wages (33%) and hope of getting a job (41%) are among the primary reason behind reverse migrants’ willingness to relocate to cities despite covid-19 prevalence, the survey noted.

As per the official data, over 10.03 million people moved to their hometowns after the nationwide lockdown was imposed to curb the spread of coronavirus. Expert and civil society groups, however, have maintained that the actual number is much larger than the official figure.

While reverse migrants reported 85% decline in income at their native places when compared with their previous workplace, salaried earners saw a bigger setback, with income falling by over 90%. In Odisha it declined by 93%, while in UP it dropped down to 100%.

Similarly, income of self-employed migrants across these six states dived 86.29%. Among states, self-employed migrants in UP and Chhattisgarh reported a cent percent drop in income. Casual agricultural labourers and casual non-agri labourers saw a drop of 62.49% and 56.87% respectively. This indicates that livelihood options for salaried and self-employed labour force are extremely limited in rural India and how the job loss and income loss impacted the livelihood of a sizable portion of workers.

“Median age of migrant heads and female heads are just 26 years and 27 years, respectively. Amongst the migrant states surveyed, Chhattisgarh migrants are the youngest with median age of 25 years and the youngest female heads, with median age of 23 years. Migration of workers in such large scale and in young age is an important indicator for authorities at the State and Central levels to take suitable action for creation of opportunities for employment locally," the survey said underlining another aspect of the migrants’ crisis.

Talking about the willingness of migrants to come back to urban areas, the survey said, while nearly 68% are ready to return cumulatively, it’s the UP (89.31%) and Jharkhand (92.31%) migrants who are willing to return most. West Bengal (35%) and Odisha (59%) migrants are most hesitant to come back.

“State wise distribution has sizeable difference in willingness to go back and the first reason are the push and pull factors. (For example) In Jharkhand, the highest percentage of migrants, whooping 92.31% wants to go back and amongst them 98.71% see employment opportunity therein, (here) the push factor is tremendous. This analysis also draw attention to the perceived demand of migrants in Place of migration and the employers' willingness to give employment on same and more wages. Majority of migrants who are willing to return from Bihar have given the reason for employers willing to give employment on same or more wages and from Uttar Pradesh 41.69% of willing migrants say so." the survey said.

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