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TATA Trusts

Migration Program Brief

Migration is a routine livelihoods strategy adopted in India and not simply a response to shocks. People certainly do migrate because there is not enough work locally, but such migration should not be understood as forced or distress migration because many people perceived migration as an opportunity" (Bird and Deshingkar2007).

Various studies in India reveal that, many poor people would have fallen into deeper poverty had they not migrated out. The effort therefore, should no longer be on trying to prevent or retard migration but to make it more humane, less unpleasant and more productive.

The Trusts have identified a theme on "Migration" as part of the strategy under the Urban Poverty and Livelihoods portfolio. The simple target of this programme is to reduce migrants misery, sensitise various stakeholders and play a pioneering role towards making this economic reality called migration more human". The Trusts had supported two major pilot projects with Aajeevika Bureau and Prayas in Rajasthan, which are addressing the concerns of the migrant population. The learning emerging from these two pilots have been shared with partners high migration prevalent states. The service delivery approach of Aajeevika appears to have received wider acceptance, with several partners adapting it to their local context by setting up source and destination level centres. On the other hand, the mobilisation approach of Prayas has also had significant impact on wages of specific occupation streams like brick kiln and BT cotton workers, which can be taken up across segments.

As of March 2013, the Trusts have reached around 1.5 lakhs migrants through 33 partners in 10 states of India with special focus on Orissa, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh. The table below shows the current status of the support program for the migrant population.

States NGO Partners Centres Districts Blocks (Rural) Cities
Rajasthan 9 22 11 13 7
Gujarat 4 4 - 4
Orissa 9 13.5 9 12 1
Uttar Pradesh 5 15 8 8 2
Maharashtra 3 4 3 1 2
Bihar 2 2 2 2 -
Madhya Pradesh 2 3 3 2 1
Andhra Pradesh 1 1 1 - 1
Karnataka 1 1 1 - 1
Haryana 1 - - - -
33 65.5* 42 38 19

*Out of the 65.5 centres, 55 are full centres and 21 are sub centres


Context of Migration

The accelerated movement of people originating mainly from the rural and backward areas in search of employment has been an important consequence of the course of socio-economic development followed in post-independent India. The first estimation of such migrants in India was conducted by the National Commission on Rural Labour in 1991. The Commission estimated the total seasonal migrants to be in the range of 10.5 million out of which the estimated inter-state migrants were 4.5 million and intra-state 6.0 million. The number of seasonal migrants has been increasing very rapidly since then. The latest estimates by the National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector (NCEUS) haveprojected the number of seasonal migrants in India as 30 million, around half of which are inter-state migrants. This too, is said to be a gross underestimate. It can be argued that the actual numbers are anywhere between 100 and 200 million.

Migrants make enormous contribution to the national economy through major sectors such as construction, brick-making, textile, mines, etc. However, they are placed at the periphery of the society, accessing very few citizen rights, and without a political voice. Migrants are poorly endowed with physical, financial, social, human and political resources.

Situating the Problem

While economic shifts prompt such mobility of labour, this phenomenon is saddled with numerous difficulties for migrants. Most migrants leave at an early age with poor or no skill-sets and enter the market with limited bargaining power. Long working hours, poor working and living conditions, exploitation or cheating by the labour contractors and employers characterise their existence in cities. Women migrants, especially, are vulnerable to physical and sexual abuse. Questioning and harassment by the police or local goons on trains/at the destination is a common occurrence for migrants living on streets/temporary settlements. In short, few are able to convert migration into a positive opportunity for themselves and their households, retiring early with no savings and often with serious diseases/poor health.

What do migrants really need? What prevents them from realizing their needs?

  • Labour market information: Recruitment occurs through the contractors and middlemen at adverse terms of work and living of which these are probably most critical:
  • A significant proportion of wages earned goes as commission for the contractors. This can vary from 10% to as high as 40% (brick kiln workers from UP in Gujarat) of wages earned.
  • Recruitment in lieu of the advance can be one cause of bondage (may not be the only) in the destination area where the migrant worker is forced to work against her/his will.
  • Identity/ Dignity: Being recognised or even counted as citizens. The absence of legitimised identity results in high vulnerability as the migrants are subjected to victimisation as well as police harassment at the destination.
  • Access to services: The issue of identity and access go hand in hand, since the lack of identity or acceptability of existing proofs directly results in no access to any Government schemes: health service, insurance, bank linkages, PDS etc.
  • Skills: Migrants often do not have the requisite skill sets and hence remain in lower end jobs and are unable to move up the value chain.
  • Unity and Leadership: Being a dispersed group constantly on the move, they do not have the existing social structures which help them in coming together and address issues of common concern.
  • Family social needs: At the source end, the family facing the absence of a migrant male member requires social, financial and emotional support. There is also an increased responsibility and workload on the women and elderly members who are left behind. At the destination, issues of sexual exploitation as well as concerns of nutrition, immunisation and education of children need to be met.

The Trusts' Strategy

The Trusts have adopted a three-pronged approach, built around the three pegs of Implementation, Research and Advocacy:

Implementation: The Tata Trust Migrant Support Program

The objective of this program is raise the income and savings of migrant households, thereby contributing to their financial security, wellbeing, social and family support structures. The program will target 3 lakh migrants through 70 source and destination level centres over the next three years. Our NGO partners are undertaking some unique initiatives to address the needs of the migrant population through source and destination centres. These centres provide customised services to address the concerns of migrants.

a. Migration Resource Centres - at the Source End

The source centres offer information, counselling and registration services to the migrant workers both in out-migration, source areas and in-migration, destination areas. The common services offered by the centres may include- registration, photo ID, counselling and legal aid which resource centres can offer at any point. However some services become more specific to the point of their delivery to the migrants and their communities. The purpose of the centre is to be a one-stop-shop for the migrant and facilitate a multipurpose identity to the migrant workers and increase their access to basic facilities including welfare schemes of the government.

b. Migration Resource Centres - at the Destination End

Destination end centres can be in the cities, towns or in rural concentrations (in the case of agricultural labour). The function of these centres is to provide a safe drop-in and service facility to populations, who are working in locations far away from their homes or states. A number of special programmes aimed at resolving the hardships related to the living, work and security conditions of the migrant workers like health, bank linkages etc will be supported. These programmes will be delivered at destinations but can also have source linkages.

c. Technical Support through the Centre for Migration and Labour Solutions (CMLS)

CMLS has been set up with the Aajeevika Bureau as a technical support unit, co-promoted by Aajeevika Bureau and Sir Dorabji Tata Trust, to spearhead expansion of migration initiatives in India. The CMLS will act as a technical support body to the migration program to ensure a sustainable expansion of the program with full quality and impact while also strengthening research and field based knowledge generation. CMLS is a professional team intended to assist organisations in better design and implementation of their migration services. It draws from the experience of Aajeevika Bureau as a pioneer in this sector and explores the application of migrant services along with the program partner organisations in varied local settings.. There is also space for innovative approaches like mapping of occupational streams, linkages with government services, provision of community kitchens and building a network connecting sources with destinations and so on, with the end objective of creating and demonstrating a vibrant support system for migrants and their families.

Roles and Functions
  • Identification of new locations and partners for intervention
  • Advising organisations on proposal design and development.
  • Organising learning and orientation visits for teams of partner organisations
  • Facilitating inter-organisational exchange through state level review meetings, cross-visits between partner organisations and documentation and sharing of best practices
  • Assisting partner organisations in undertaking specific capacity building events.
  • Facilitating source-destination linkages among organisations.
  • Centralized management of programmatic information through MIS and registration database.
  • Knowledge building and synthesis of research outputs in the form of state level migration profiles.
  • Undertaking quarterly technical support visits to the operational areas of all organisations

Research: Strengthen and Harmonise Research and Action on Migration in the Indian Context (SHRAMIC)

Given the dearth of data, there is little or no research available to inform policy or build a case for the inclusion of migrants in the existing policy framework. Possible areas of exploration include support of systematic, sustained research on the extent and significance of migration to the economy, and the socio-political impact of migration on people. In the coming years, the rate of migration is expected to increase. This will call for policies and approaches to reduce regional and sector-based balances in development; appropriate policies for recipient areas; policies to support seasonal migrants, etc. Hence there is a need for the generation and dissemination of credible information on migration to facilitate informed decisions. Towards this, SHRAMIC is an SDTT &AT initiative anchored by IGIDR in collaboration with NIUA, CPR, IRIS KF and the Trust Program Partners.

Advocacy: National Coalition of Organisation for Security of Migrant (NAC-SOM)

The Trusts have facilitated the creation of this coalition by bringing together like-minded individuals and organisations. The advocacy agenda is entirely determined by the implementers themselves. This proposes to be a country-wide coalition of civil society organisations, activists, researchers and academicians committed to improving the wellbeing of labour migrants in India. It serves as a broad forum to educate the public, governments and industry; to implement coordinated plans of action; and to share informative experiences that arise from the growing work with migrant workers and their communities.

Click here - http://www.samarthan.org/tag/nacsom/

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