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Strangers in Their Own Land

Based on the fi ndings of a fi eld study, various dimensions of outmigration of youth from India's north-eastern region to Delhi are discussed. It is viewed that central to hardships of the migrants in the city is a "cultural gap" between the migrant and local societies.


Strangers in Their Own Land understood to be determined by a multitude of factors, of which the most impor-
Migrants from the North-East in Delhi tant are “educational and employment considerations”. An analysis of data from
the NSS 64th round (2007-08) suggests
Babu P Remesh that migration “for studies and employ-

Based on the findings of a fi eld study, various dimensions of outmigration of youth from India’s north-eastern region to Delhi are discussed. It is viewed that central to hardships of the migrants in the city is a “cultural gap” between the migrant and local societies.

This article is based on a research study supported by V V Giri National Labour Institute, NOIDA. The author gratefully acknowledges the constructive discussions with Neetha N, C P Vinod and the research assistance from Victoria Thokchom and Uma Onishi Thokchom. Usual disclaimers apply.

Babu P Remesh ( is with the School of Interdisciplinary and Transdisciplinary Studies, Indira Gandhi National Open University, New Delhi.

he extant scholarship on migration with respect to the north-eastern region (NER)1 of India largely confines itself to issues of in-migration – as the region has been a migrant receiving zone, hitstorically. Accordingly, issues related to influx of migrants (such as social tensions between locals and foreign/interstate migrants; illegal mig ration from neighbouring countries; and emerging concerns of internal security) attracted greater gravity and concern, in usual migration-discourses pertaining to NER. It is only very recently that outmigration of people from north-east assumed scholarly attention. Though the people of the NER are traditionally believed to be rather reluctant to migrate (Panda 2010) for various reasons, outmigration from the north-eastern states has steadily been increasing in the recent past (Singh 2007). Using census data, Chyrmang (2011) shows a steady and steep increase in outmigration during 19812001.2 Broad estimates3 and reports suggest that this trend got discernibly strengthened in the subsequent decade. Confi rming this argument, in the recent past, there has been an increasing presence of youth from NER in the major urban centres of the country (Shimray 2007).

The national capital region (NCR) – or broadly Delhi – is one of the most favou red destinations of migrants from NER. Rough estimates suggest that currently in Delhi region alone, there are 90,000 to 1,00,000 north-eastern ethnic residences (Indigenous Portal 2010). The other important urban centres are Bangalore, Mumbai, Calcutta, Chennai, Chandigarh, Pune and Hyderabad (Shimray 2007). Along with this city-bound exodus, there has also been some movement of youth towards smaller towns and suburbs of far-off states within the country.4

Determinants of Outmigration

The unparalleled city-bound migration of youth from the NER in recent times is

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June 2, 2012 vol xlvii no 22

ment” assumes much more signifi cance in the case of north-eastern states compared to the rest of India.

Despite a high literacy rate,5 the region is characterised by a visible lack of adequate avenues for higher or technical education or vocational training. Further, there is a felt mismatch between the demand in the job market and the potential of the local educational system

– especially to meet the requirements of the new economy occupations and professional service sectors (Lyndem and De 2004). This weak educational base of the region is an important factor that prompts migration decisions of educated and ambitious youth to urban centres for higher learning. The relatively brighter human resource profile of these migrants6 prompts one to see this outmigration as a process of “brain-drain” (Singh 2007), since a good proportion of the youth often opt to continue in urban centres after education, for employment (Shingmila 2007).

“Educational reasons”, however, are secondary to employment considerations. The region exhibits higher rates of educated and youth unemployment, cumulatively owing to a host of factors such as lower rates of industrialisation, inadequate economic infrastructure, unimpressive expansion of the modern service sector and a near stagnation in the government/public sector jobs. The lower labour absorption capacity of local labour markets and perceived employment prospects in the urban centres together prompt the aspirant youth in NER to migrate outside their native places to explore better opportunities. Along side these “push factors”,7 the perceived superiority of educational opportunities in the city and the possibilities of getting employed in attractive jobs – both in the public sector as well as in new economy occupations – add to the decisions of migration (NESC&H 2011).8

Yet another dimension that makes youth migration from north-east unique


is the crucial issue of sociopolitical unrest in the region. This to some extent is also instrumental in the bleak educational and employment scenario of the region. Many states in the NER are engulfed by political unrests and social tensions which include: ethnic/communal/ religious tensions; conflicts between local and in-migrant population; tensions between army and local population; insurgency movements and so on.9 Though the nature and dynamics of these sociopolitical unrests vary considerably from state to state, such confl icts adversely affect the normal lives of the natives in the region and often prompt them to move outward for a better and peaceful living. While analysing the patterns of interstate migration in India, Krishnan (2007) confirms this and observes that the politically disturbed states such as Manipur, Nagaland, Tripura and Assam have recorded more out-migrants than follow any strict statistical procedure. However, a broadly representative sample was selected – in terms of gender, age, state of origin and occupational categories. Table 1 lists the broad profile of the respondents in the survey.

Table 1: Profile of Respondents

No of Respondents Percentage

a “two-stage migration”. In this pattern, though the initial reason for migration was education, employment considerations sustained their continuation in the city afterwards and this was true for 67.4% of the sample. While the majority of this stream of two-stage migrants were students of higher learning centres

Sex(such as universities), many had taken Male 214 52.2up studies at the undergraduate levels Female 188 47.8

(or even basic schooling). In such cases,


migration often assumed the form of

Up to 20 8 2.0

family migration.17

20-25 53 13.2

Seasonal, temporary or circular

25-30 301 74.8

migration, which is an important form

Above 30 40 10.0 Marital status12 of internal migration in India (Keshri Married 23 5.7and Bhagat 2010; Deshingkar and Akter Unmarried 375 93.3

2009) was found to be almost absent.

Separated 4 1.0

The data reveals that more than 50% of


the respondents continued in the city for

Illiterates 0 0

more than a year and 28.4%, for more

Up to secondary 10 2.5

than two years. This conforms to the NSS

Higher secondary 54 13.4 Graduation 191 47.5 64th round data, which shows that the

in-migrants during the period under study. Postgraduation 121 30.2forms of migration that were temporary

Given the favourable land-human ratios and regimes of collective ownership of natural resources, in most parts of the region, the migrants from the NER are generally better off vis-à-vis their counterparts from the rest of India. Thus, the Diploma/vocational education 26 6.4 but involved longer durations of stay

Religion(i e, 12 months or more) was much higher Christian 200 49.8

for the north-eastern states than for

Hindu 181 45.0

others at the national level.

Others14 21 5.2

Yet another interesting aspect is the

Social category SC 71.7role of community networks in migration.

recent trend of outmigration from the ST 229 57.0Though many of the migrants came to

north-east needs to be seen as a case of exodus of youth for educational and professional betterments, which is largely necessitated by the sociopolitical unrest in the region. This uniqueness cautions one from treating the migration to urban centres as a typical case of rural-urban migration solely driven by income differentials.10 Based on this premise, this article discusses various aspects of the city-bound migration of youth from the NER, sharing the findings of a recent study conducted in the Delhi region.


The main source of data is a survey of 402 working migrants from the NER – conducted in four identifi ed migrant neighbourhoods in Delhi (Vijay Nagar, Munirka, Kotla Mubarakpur and Motibagh) during June-December 2010.11 In the absence of any authentic secondary data on the quantum and spread of the migrant population from the north-east in Delhi, the selection of sample did not

FC 141 35.1

OBC 25 6.0

Total 402 100.00

Source: Survey data.

Of the respondents 44.3% were from Manipur, truly reflecting the visibly higher share of Manipuris among the total migrants in Delhi.15 This was followed by Mizoram (17.2%); Assam (16.2%) and Nagaland (7%); Arunachal Pradesh (6.2%); Tripura (6.0%); and Meghalaya (3.2%).16

Patterns and Community Networks

A low share of married couples among the migrants characterised the infl ow of youth from the NER which is refl ected in the marital status of the respondents. Thus migrants are largely single, though many had their friends or relatives to join in the city. Substantiating the perceived linkage between migration for educational purpose and for employment, the prominent pattern of migration was

June 2, 2012

the city as singles, they had some connections in the city who were crucial for their initial stay and in educational/ job searches. More than 90% of the respondents reported that they received such help. Similarly, it was noted that some respondents also hosted newly arrived migrant. Such a form of social networking often assumed a “close group” nature, where family relations and ethnic connections were considered more important over other considerations. Among those who accessed social networks for migration, more than three-fourths chose family relations or people from their own tribe as their initial support providers in the city. The community networking began sometimes at the stage of contemplation of migration, especially to access information on prospects for higher education/employment in the city. With increased use of internet and social networking sites the scope and extent of “close group” networking has expanded.

vol xlvii no 22


The pattern of accommodation also highlights the signifi cance of close community ties, with around two-thirds of the respondents sharing accommodation. These arrangements are largely of small groups comprising relatives or friends/fellow-workers from the same communities/region and 44.2% of the respondents reported this. Another 17.6% also reported staying in groups with close relatives. While the normal size of such groups was around two-four members, in the case of close relatives/family members, groups of 8-10 members were also found. This pattern of staying in culturally similar groups led to the formation of community neighbourhoods in the city, with concentration of people from the same regional/ethnical backgrounds.18 Even those respondents, who stayed in independent rented accommodation and as paying guests preferred to stay close to such community neighbourhoods.

Living in close proximity also provides the migrants with a feeling of security in the alien urban space. “Everything in the city is different” for the migrants – be it climate, food habits, customs; costumes; the timezone; faiths; social systems; or personal traits. Thus, adjusting to the changed circumstances is the first challenge they must confront. The new environs of the inner city often makes them insecure and this feeling of timidity acts as a binding force to prefer accommodation within or closer to community neighbourhoods – for it provides a feeling of togetherness and understanding.

Due to obvious advantages of scale, community neighbourhoods offered common utilities and opportunities for social gatherings. Provision stores and restaurants offering authentic native goods and ethnic cuisines are one such benefit. The neighbourhoods also provided opportunities for socialisation and cultural gatherings. Ethnic/regionspecific cultural events/festivals are occasions for cherishing ethnic food, attire and entertainment which helped reconstructing native lives in the city.19 Formation and participation in prayer groups/fellowship or church activities is yet another possibility of intimate neighbourhoods.

Discriminations and Racial Concerns

Most of the respondents reported the city as “tougher than expected” and “more insecure” than their native places. This was despite the fact that many of them had essentially left their home states due to insurgencies and disruptions in normal life. A Mizo woman respondent mentioned: “There is a huge difference between what we expected and what we are experiencing”. A Manipuri migrant added: “The insecurity that we felt in our home state is different compared to what we face here. We cannot compare the two.”

The distinct physical features of these migrants and their inability to speak Hindi fluently, at times, led to denial of equal treatment in the host society. The migrants ended up paying extra charges or high rates (referred to as “skin tax” by some respondents!) at local markets and while travelling in autorickshaws/taxis. Their calm and friendly nature/attitudes were often mistaken for docility and helplessness. Further, in many cases they were misconstrued as foreigners due to their distinct physical appearance.

The day-to-day discriminations faced by the migrants range from denial of basic rights of living to larger issues of citizenship. A common issue cited was the discriminatory practices with respect to rented accommodation. Getting a room/ flat on rent is the most difficult task for migrants from the north-east since many of the local house owners look down upon them and do not consider them as potential clients. Such denials are based on certain preconceived and stereotyped notions about the migrants. “They have loose morals”; “They eat pigs and dogs”; “Their presence will pollute our children” and so on are typical responses of local house owners, as reported by some of the respondents. A few respondents had to agree to cook only vegetarian food, as a precondition to avail of rented accommodation.20

Extortion of exorbitant rents, rentadvances and charging of unfair rates of commissions were also oft-cited issues. The renting arrangements and advance payment were mostly carried out informally and thus several instances of denial of repayment and withholding of the deposits were noted. Other problems related to accommodation in the city include: denial of continued support in terms of ensuring basic facilities; forced eviction before completion of the tenure of contract; and extortion of higher charges for electricity and water. The most insulting aspect, according to some of the respondents, was intrusion into their personal lives and “moral policing” by the house owners. Many of them reported that house owners visited their rooms/ flats any time without any prior intimation. Even in the presence of visitors rude comments such as “We don’t like you to bring your friends” were made.

The vulnerability of the migrants was made worse by the local municipal authorities. A respondent who runs a popular ethnic eatery in a community neighbourhood narrated how the local authorities stalled all his attempts to get a licence for the establishment. He thus has to pay exorbitant rent, apart from meeting recurring demands from various authorities. To quote him: “They know that giving licence to me is akin to losing a permanent client”.

Several respondents informed that the local politicians and flat owners discouraged or practically objected to their enrolment in the voter list. “They even denied our enrolment in the population census. That means we are not Indian citizens!” pointed out a respondent. This attitude could be attributed to the perceived fear of the migrants obtaining more decisive roles and bargaining power in the local society. The majority of the respondents had to spend money, additional time and resources to obtain basic documents such as voter identity card, ration card and to open a bank account. Those who lacked basic documents often found themselves in disadvantageous positions. Discriminatory treatment was reported during participation in the activities of local collectives. While people from the north-east were asked to contribute more, the benefi ts were often distributed in a skewed manner, favouring the locals.

The use of obscene language by local people against the migrants is also quite frequent, according to the respondents.

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Verbal harassment often takes the form of racial abuse – primarily based on their distinct physical appearances and racial features. Almost all the respondents had something to reveal about the verbal abuse that they face in the city. Many shared that they were commonly addressed as “chinki”,21 “Nepali” and so on22 by the locals and even by some offi cials and authorities. The feeling of insecurity often restrains the victims from reacting to such abuses, to avoid more undesirable outcomes. Frequent media reports about atrocities on migrants from the north-east add to their anxieties and helplessness. Apart from verbal abuse, a few respondents reported instan ces of physical attack and atrocities in public spaces.23 It was pointed out that the

authorities often do not provide adequate help and support. The reluctance by the police in fi ling fi rst infor mation reports (FIRs) was an oft- repeated grievance.24

Some respondents tried to break their “outsider” status by picking up bits of spoken Hindi, familiarising themselves with north Indian food items and dress styles and by participating in local

festivals. Despite these efforts of acquiring basic skills for survival in the city, their unique physical features and fair skin often easily reveal their distinct

migrant identity.

Many of the respondents were not ready to accept their status as “migrants”, even if technically they were “internal migrants”. “We are very much Indians; and still you call us migrants!” was one response. A recent report relea sed by the North East Support Centre and Helpline (NESC&H 2011)25 also refl ects this uneasiness regarding the term “migrants”. To quote from the report:

The term migrant is used when a citizen of the country goes and lives in another

country but terming the same citizen who goes and lives in another city of different state within the country, the term becomes questionable.

Occupational Profi le

The emergence of new economy occupations in a globalised era has opened a range of employment opportunities for the young and educated migrants (ibid). The respondents were largely employed in the private sector and multinational corporations or in service sector occupations.26 The near absence of migrants from the NER in occupations at the lowest rungs of the informal sector could be attributed to their relatively higher educational profi le. There are hardly any rickshaw pullers or street vendors and their presence is also minimal in manual work in factories.

Of the respondents 67.3% reported that the present occupation is their fi rst job and that they initially migrated to the city for study purposes, which strongly supports the two-stage migration pattern discussed above. Another 81.1% reported their job as permanent, though “permanency” was only notional

– with many employed in projects/contracts or with term-based appointments.

Referral was found to be the prominent mode of recruitment, highlighting the importance of the kith and kin

network in the migrants’ work-lives in the city. Other important modes of


recruitment were actual or virtual interviews, wherein the early migrants to the city provided help in terms of sharing of information and contacts. There were also some instances, where the employees were recruited directly from the north-east through placement agencies/training centres.27

Attributes such as fluency in English, trendy dressing styles, and pleasant and free nature often help them in getting absorbed in the hospitality/ service sector.28 At times, their distinct physical appearance also facilitated their entry into employment, as some employers (as reported by respondents) are keen on having an international/ cross-cultural/ethnic ambience for their establishments.29

The hard-working but seemingly docile nature of the migrants is an attribute that adds to their suitability at workplaces.30 The low attrition rate is yet another factor that makes them a preferred group in new economy jobs. The survey data suggests that more than 50% of the respondents continued in their present occupation for more than a year and 28.4% had more than two years’ service in the same fi rm.

In terms of discriminations/harassment at workplace, migrants from the north-east found themselves at a disadvantage – with 38.2% reporting some experiences of such discrimination. A number of discriminatory practices were noted which included: assigning higher work targets or long hours of work; denial of leave; discriminations at the time of promotion; holding up of salaries; and termination from jobs without prior notice. In many cases, perceived notions regarding submissiveness and helplessness of migrants from the NER often led to callous dealings of issues among employees.

The success of these youth in attractive entry level jobs has resulted in resentment among local fellow – workers, in certain cases. This discomfort, at times, led to workplace bullying – sometimes even to the extent of racially toned remarks. Of the workers 70.9% reported no serious sex-based discriminations at the workplace. However, almost all women respondents had some experience of offensive and sexually coloured remarks, touching, undesirable close proximity and staring. Only one respondent reported a serious case of sexual harassment. Even in this case, the perpetrator was left scot-free with a transfer of workspace. Several respondents expressed their displeasure on the careless handling of sexual discrimination cases at workplace.31 When clients/customers of services – in which migrant workers were involved – were responsible for harassment, many a time, the complaints were not followed up with action of any kind. Rather than sharply reacting against workplace discriminations most of the victims ignored such cases, in view of their disadvantageous positioning vis-à-vis other non-migrant colleagues. “Concentrating more on work”, “Keeping a ‘safe distance’ from troublemakers” were some of the commonly sought solutions by the respondent to cope up with workplace-related worries. It is also important to note that not all migrants were discriminated against and ill-treated. Those who are in high skilled positions (e g, academics, highly qualified professionals and so on) did not report any such issues at the workplace. In the cases of serious incidents it was noted that the victims often quit the job, as the workplace was no longer safe and friendly.

Social Labelling

The root cause of hardships and discriminations faced by migrants could be located in the differences in social norms of the migrant and host societies. As north-eastern societies are largely tribal/community-based, their norms of social behaviour are distinctly different from those of north Indian communities, which are essentially shaped by castebased and patriarchal norms. These cultural deviations when juxtaposed with other divergences (such as food habits, faith, physical features and personal traits) result in undesirable social labelling of the migrants. For instance, gender relations in north-eastern societies are more egalitarian and the resultant friendly mingling and free social assimilation of women is often mistaken for lack of moral values. These miscon ceptions lead to discriminations and atrocities in the public spaces.32

Ranging from innocent remarks of local residents to eve-teasing harassment, the migrants are continuously reminded of their “alien status”. Such treatment in their own national capital has had a disturbing impact on them. However, given the bleak prospects of returning to their native states, they often find no other alternative than adjusting with the discriminatory situations.

To some extent, the discriminations could be attributed to the lack of exposure of the local community to the rich cultural heritage and social norms and values of tribal communities of the NER. The images created by popular media about tribal societies (highlighting distinct traditional outfits and folk dances) are in contradiction to the modern and stylish outfits of the migrant youth.

Tagging the migrants as “terrorists” and “anti-nationals” citing insurgencies back home is yet another aspect of social labelling that the migrants have to endure. In many cases, the wrong portrayal of facts by the media and erroneous conceptualisations by the urban residents – especially the middle classes

– are factors that have added to such misconceptions.

On the whole, the findings of the study suggest an apparent “cultural gap” between the migrant and local societies, which is central to the hardships of people from the NER in the city. This calls for efforts towards highlighting the rich cultural heritage and ethos of the north-east societies, along with providing various support systems for migrants in the city. In this context, it is also important to appreciate and recognise the sociopolitical, economic and cultural distinctions between individual states/communities within the NER.


1 NER comprises of eight states, namely, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim. The assumption of homogeneity in the understanding of issues of north-east is erroneous. However, the paper uses this unifi ed approach as an entry point to lay out some common issues of outmigration of the youth from the region to urban centres.

2 As per the estimation, the proportion of outmigration from the NER has increased

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from 1.7% to 2.9% during 1981 to 2001. While 1981-91 period marked a steady increase in outmigration, in the next decade (1991 to 2001), the increase in outmigration doubled (Chyrmang 2011).

3 Data from the NSS 64th round (2007-08) on migration suggests that north-eastern states generally show higher proportion of migrant households to total households than the all- India average. While the national average is 19 per 1,000 households, four states such as Sikkim (43), Arunachal Pradesh (40), Manipur

(34) and Nagaland (26) are far ahead of the national average; Mizoram (19) is just on a par with the national fi gure.

4 As per a recent study, there are 8,000 Assamese youth working in plywood factories in Perumbavoor, a town in far-off Kerala (Das and Chutia 2011).

5 In terms of literacy rate, most states in the region are much ahead of the national average (64.8%) – e g, Mizoram 88.8%; Tripura 73.2%; Manipur 70.5%; Sikkim 68.8%; and Nagaland 66.6% (Government of India 2011).

6 As per the NSS 64th round data, only a very small proportion of migrants from northeastern states belong to the category of illiterates, compared to the national average of 44.8%. Further, barring Assam and Tripura, all the states have high proportion of migrants with education “Graduation and Above” (NSSO 2010).

7 NESC&H (2011) groups the reasons/determinants of outmigration from north-east as “push” and “pull” factors, such binary segregations help in visualising migration process within the broad categories of “compulsions” and “attractions”.

8 Relatively better command over English and friendly attitudes of the youth from NER often help them to easily find a job in the cities – especially in hospitality and care sectors. Further to this, it is also perceived that access to public sector jobs is relatively easy for those belonging to the ST category, due to apparent advantages in terms of human resources.

9 For a detailed account of sociopolitical unrest in NER, refer Shimray (2004). It is also important to note that the nature and dynamics of socio-political unrests varies considerably from state to state of the region, making it impossible to draw homogeneous assumptions or solutions.

10 This is not to suggest the absence of urbanbound migration of the educated and the well off youth from other states, but to highlight the centrality of distress migration of the educated youth largely due to adverse social and political conditions in these states.

11 Supplementary qualititative datas gathered include: 40 ethnographic case studies; discussions with key resource persons (including activists, social organisers, student representatives, managers/employers of fi rms, fellowworkers and government offi cials); and a brief field visit to select source regions – covering four states Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Sikkim. Available secondary literature/data and discussions in media (both print and electronic) were also consulted.

12 The young profile of migrants could be partly due to linkages between education-driven migration and migration for employment and also due to the recruitment priorities and pattern of the modern service sector fi rms in the city.

13 47.3% were graduates; 30.3 postgraduates; and 6.6% had professional diploma and higher vocational skills.

14 The proportion of other religions was 5.2

comprising of and 5% Buddhists and 0.2% Muslims. 48% of the respondents from Arunachal Pradesh reported that they belong to Buddhism. Manipur and Tripura are the other two states with Buddhists (6 and 4.2% respectively).The only one Muslim respondent in the study was from Assam.

15 The prominence of migrants from Manipur could be because of the intensity of sociopolitical tensions in the state, compared to other states of north-east. It was noted that many Manipuris prefer to continue their migrant lives for long. This “higher retention rates”, along with continuing influx of new migrants, make them the dominant commu nity.

16 There was no respondent from Sikkim in the sample, which is mainly due to the negligible proportion of people from this state in the identified study areas and in Delhi as a whole.

17 A few respondents pointed out that their primary aim of migration to the city was to educate their children.

18 All the four localities selected for the present study are such migrant neighbourhoods. In its pilot phase, 33 such migrant neighbourhoods were mapped.

19 For instance, the Tokhu Emong festival organised by a collective of people from Nagaland, in November 2011, had large participation of people from the NER and other Delhiites. The festival offered a lot of ethnic/region-specifi c specialties. To quote the words of a participant: “A mini-Nagaland was created in Delhi”.

20 Such unfair restrictions often found leading to instances of eating “smuggled” non-vegetarian food, without the knowledge of landlords – as reported by some respondents.

21 “Chinki” is a racial slur referring mainly to a person of Chinese ethnicity but sometimes generalised to refer to any person with mongoloid features.

22 Chinki monkeys, thapa and chini malai are the other such terms, commonly reported by the respondents.

23 While narrating an incident faced by her, a Manipuri respondent told that after that event, she lost the confidence to freely move alone in the city.

24 In one incident, the police took the victim in the same vehicle along with the perpetrator of the crime. In several cases, the intervention of police ended with a counselling session with specific advices regarding how to conduct themselves in the city (in terms of dressing and socialisation).

25 NESC&H is an active church-based collective in Delhi, which provides proactive assistance to people from north-east India and fi ghts racial/gender-based violence faced by them.

26 The prominent occupations were administrative and office work, BPO jobs, customer care activities, hospitality jobs – waiters/waitresses, receptionists, sales executives, beauticians, and so on. Shingmila (2007) also observes that majoriy of migrants from NER are working in service sector occupations.

27 It was noticed that several of the BPO fi rms in far-offs cities had some arrangements with training centres in Shillong, Kohima, Dimapur and Guwahati to recruit fresh aspirants.

28 For instance, during the organisation of Common Wealth Games 2010, many got temporary but highly paid jobs in the reception and hospitality functions.

29 For instance, Chinese restaurants, star hotels and hospitals, beauty parlours.

30 Typical and oft-repeated descriptions given by employers/managers include: “They are hardworking, honest and committed”; “pleasing appearance”; “soft-spoken and with nice behaviour”; and “they won’t group against the interests of the company”.

31 Many respondents shared sexual harassment experiences of their colleagues/close friends.

32 A recent study of NESC&H explains this aspect as “social profiling” and hostile mindset of the locals (NESC&H 2011).


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NSSO (2010): Migration in India, 2007-08, NSS 64th Round (July 2007-June 2008), National Sample Survey Office, Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation, Government of India, New Delhi.

Remesh, Babu P (forthcoming): “Migration from North-East to Urban Centres: A Study of Delhi Region”, NLI Working Paper, V V Giri National Labour Institute, NOIDA.

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Shingmila, S (2007): “North-East Migrant Women in Delhi’s Service Sector”, paper presented at the National Seminar on Women and Migration organised by Centre for Women’s Development Studies, 19-20 September, New Delhi.

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