Migration Narratives: The SHRAM Blog

Ensuring livelihood for migrants

During the lockdown period many migrants in urban areas returned to their home towns in rural areas. What was their source of livelihood there? Were the schemes effective implemented? This blog looks into Jan Dhan Yojana and MGNREGS.


People migrate for better livelihood, especially, to urban areas. In India, the internal migrants have increased from 309 millions to 450 million from 2001 to 2011 [Census 2001 and 2011]. With the lockdown many lost their jobs and uncertainty about future led the migrants to return to their hometowns. The SHRAMIK train data showed that the highest number of migrants/stranded passengers went from Gujarat 15, 32,712 and 12, 41,573 went from Maharashtra to other states. In the case of incoming trains, states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar tops the list.

As the lockdown is eased, industries and businesses have to start functioning which depend heavily on the migrants. But a quick look at the schemes and initiatives does not inspire confidence in the government’s abilities to offer support in this time of crisis.

For instance take the Jan Dhan Yojana a scheme by the government for cash transfer. All account holders under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) would receive cash of Rupees 500. A survey done by Rapid Community Response to COVID-19 (RCRC) in April in 10 states, 51 districts and a sample of 10992 women showed that 90 per cent said that their JD account was active. Among those who had Jan Dhan accounts 66 per cent said that they received money in their accounts. So most of them received the money. But the second round report of RCRC with a survey of 80 districts and 11 states shows that 55 per cent did not receive Rs 500 from Jan Dhan Yojana three times.

There is a huge increase for work under MGNREGA scheme due to the return of the workers to their respective states. This has generated employment for return migrants in rural areas. RCRC round 2 survey shows that only 7 per cent return migrants are involved in MGNREGA work. Also, 40 per cent of households did not receive full payment of the work done.

The data from MGNREGA, Ministry of Rural Development, GoI shows that the active workers (2020-21) in MGNREGA in states like Bihar is 28.25 per cent and Uttar Pradesh is 48.67 per cent. Bihar and Uttar Pradesh is shown here as SHRAMIK data shows that these two states have the largest number of return migrants. In these two states the active workers is low compared to many which states which have workers above 50 and 60 per cent, especially Bihar.

If the policies and schemes of government are not able to provide livelihood to the workers then they may have to return to the urban areas. This is essential for the business and industries to pick up. As they come back we can make the urban areas inclusive and give them proper identity.

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