Tatsat Chronicle Magazine

Caught In The Crossfire: Migrant Labour Being Held Hostage To India’s Cynical Politics

The politics of polarisation that has become the norm is now threatening the flow of workers from one state to another. If left unchecked, the economic and social consequences will be far-reaching and can potentially derail the India story
April 12, 2023
Important contributors: Migrant workers make up a significant portion of India’s labour force (Photo: ILO ASIA PACIFIC I FLICKR)

Language has not been a barrier to inter-state migration, but the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP)’s espousal of Hindi and its intolerance of Opposition-ruled states not aligned with its Hindutva ideology could trigger political mobilization that would stoke nativist sentiment and impede migration.

The Economic Survey of 2016-17 in its chapter on migration, “India on the Move and Churning: New Evidence”, cited Bhimrao Ambedkar’s saying that “an ideal society should be mobile”. It also reported the “potentially exciting finding” for which there is tentative but “not conclusive evidence” that while “internal political borders” (or state boundaries) impede the flow of people, language does not seem to be a demonstrable barrier.

This is reflected in the fact, it said, that Labour flows within states are four times more than those between them. Distance from home influences migration negatively. But language barriers do not create barriers comparable to the movement of goods, it observed. “The prescient permissiveness of the founding fathers in not dictating a lingua franca for the country appears to have succeeded in making language less salient an axis of cleavage across India, a remarkable achievement given the early anxieties about linguistic divisions and people within India.”

Unlock Premium Content!
Subscribe Now for Exclusive News Coverage

We do not depend on advertisers to bring you the most important stories from the social and development sectors. Support us by becoming a member to keep our reporting free and fair in public interest.

₹ 100/-
1 Day Access
  • You get access to all our stories for one day
₹ 1000/-
12 Months at just ₹2.80 per day
  • You get access to all our stories for one year.
  • You get access to the entire archive.
₹ 1800/-
24 Months at just ₹2.45 per day
  • You get access to all our stories for two years.
  • You get access to the entire archive.

Already a member?

For bulk subscription for institutions, libraries, universities please write to us at: subscription@tatsatchronicle.com

Vivian Fernandes

He is senior journalist and columnist for several reputed publication. He was formerly with CNBC-Network18 and specializes in the agriculture sector and economy. He has written more 450 articles on agriculture alone.