A+| A| A-

Perspectives from Internal Labour Migrants

The Realities of Voting in India

While the nature of work and consequent socio-economic realities deprive migrant workers within India of their voting rights, the lack of official documentation of internal migration, especially for informal employment, prevents any conscientious policy actions for addressing the issue.

For the first time ever, the Economic Survey, 2017, provided an estimate of internal work-related migration using railways data for the period 2011–16 (GOI 2017). The results showed an average interstate migration of almost nine million people a year. While migrants from the Hindi heartland of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Madhya Pradesh largely move to Delhi, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, and Gujarat, those from the eastern states of Jharkhand and Odisha travel not only to Kolkata in West Bengal, but also to Kerala, in increasing numbers.

According to the 2011 Census, 51 million migrants moved within India for economic reasons, constituting nearly 10% of the labour force. This gives rise to a concern about the political voicelessness of these migrant workers who are unable to practise their voting rights because of economic migration. There are no statistics available on how many migrant workers have changed their constituency to vote at their current work location. Yet, it is intuitively understandable that economic realities—such as daily wage-based work arrangements, and the time and cost of travel to their domicile—will exclude them from the participatory process of voting, which is their constitutional right. This article tries to understand the various barriers that exclude internal economic migrants from participating in the electoral process by examining the narratives of migrants working as daily wage labourers in Kerala. These migrants are mainly natives of West Bengal and Odisha, who have found work in Kerala largely because of a large number of Keralites moving abroad for work. The current estimate of internal migrants to Kerala is estimated at 3 million, as against 2.2 million international emigrants from the state. The migrants, however, find jobs largely in the informal manufacturing and construction sectors. This article builds on the perspectives from these workers to give an idea about the nature of work and the extent of work-related freedom available to the internal migrants in India.

To read the full text Login

Get instant access

New 3 Month Subscription
to Digital Archives at

₹826for India

$50for overseas users

Updated On : 3rd May, 2019

Comments

(-) Hide

EPW looks forward to your comments. Please note that comments are moderated as per our comments policy. They may take some time to appear. A comment, if suitable, may be selected for publication in the Letters pages of EPW.

The genesis and evolution of the COVID-19-led migrant crisis in India, along with the institutional responses, is discussed. The focus is on the...

C P Bhambri believed that the task of social science, like all other sciences, was to arrive at the truth on the basis of well-established facts....

The COVID-19 pandemic may affect the financing opportunities for innovation. The revenue loss induced by the pandemic is likely to divert the...

When the goods and services tax was introduced in July 2017, states were given a revenue guarantee of 14% per annum on their GST revenue over the...

India’s public health system has struggled to cope with the COVID-19 crisis. Even before the pandemic, India’s public health infrastructure was...

The National Education Policy, 2020 unveiled finally seeks to usher in major structural reforms in higher education. Among many measures,...

The COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant lockdown led to the closure of all markets in Manipur, including the Tribal Market Complex in Imphal East...

Coherent national strategies, backed by regional cooperation efforts, offer a way forward for economic recovery in South Asia, which is rapidly...

Sections 357 and 357-A of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 lay down the procedure for granting compensation to the victims of crime. Under the...

The COVID-19 pandemic has provocatively challenged the extant paradigm of development whose theoretical underpinning is derived from the...

Back to Top