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The Situation of Migration from Manipur and Nagaland to Delhi



(Dr. Marchang Reimeingam, Faculty, Institute for Social and Economic Change, Bangalore)

People from North East India continue to choose Delhi, the National Capital Territory, as their favourite migration destination despite of atrocities, injustices, discriminations and prejudices invariably done by “selective” Delhites to them, particularly the ill-fated ones, due to racial differences in appearance. North East people continue to subdue such incidences and continue to migrate and remain in Delhi because mainly they know that all Delhites are not the same as there are many migrants from other parts of India and settled there, and they want to explore better opportunities in terms of job or education. Large portion of these migrants are among the youth (15-29 years of age). For example, 2001 census of India recorded that 64 and 51 percent of them from Manipur and Nagaland respectively were youth. Migration arises due to the prevailing unrest situations resulted from social violence, poor economic performance (infrastructure, technology, output, and market), limited quality education and most importantly unemployment issues besides political volatility in these states. Migration mitigates the unrest situation at the place of origin. However, it aggravated at the destination. They choose Delhi because of better systems of education, infrastructure, transportation, amenities including health facilities; wider job opportunities, higher salary and better working environment; fast moving lifestyle etc.

Migration from the two states is rapidly increasing from just 1300 people (migrants by place of last residence) in 1981 to just over 2000 in the following period. Later in 2001, it has substantially increased to close to 24 thousand. It was growing at the rate of over 24 percent annually during 1991-2001. Of these, in the 1980s and 1990s, about 62 percent were from Manipur. However, only 24 percent were recorded from Manipur, and the rest from Nagaland, in the later decade. Sadly, migration data for 2011 census is not yet available. However, assuming migration continues to grow at the rate of 1991-2001; then, the interpolated figure of migrants in 2011 is 2.69 lakh that appears to be high. Hence, by making a slight adjustment by assuming 50 percent of them return back to their place of origin or migrated further elsewhere arrive the estimated figure at 1.4 lakh from these two states in Delhi at present. Moreover, male continues to dominate in migration as sex ratio is still low at 716 in 2001, which has improved from 678 two decade back. The ratio could have improved significantly because increasingly females from rural areas are migrating to Delhi for employment in particular.

Census data shows that migration for employment and education from these states to Delhi has increased from about 40 percent in 1981 to 45 percent in 2001. Migration for employment as a reason is even much greater than for education. For instance, in 2001, over 36 percent of them migrated for employment whereas about nine percent migrated specifically for education. Moreover, census of India 2011 might show a greater level of migration for employment and education as unemployment problems aggravated and educational system remains relatively poor in these states. It suggest a situation of distress migration as involuntary unemployment worsened and higher educational system fails to accommodate students who aspires for higher study due to the apathy by the government of these states in expanding its infrastructure.

The result of the field study conducted by me (2008) in Delhi shows that migrants from North East engage largely in the modest profiled jobs such as in the shops, parlour, hospitality and call centres where job security and career advancement is a constraint. Recently, in Delhi, police figured ten thousand fake call centres indulging in illegal activities of cheating innocent people (Times of India, 21 Jan 2013). Many of those working in call centres may not be aware that they are working in fake call centres. They may find difficulty in exiting from it, even if they know, as they may be involuntarily unemployed again.

In Delhi most of the migrants from North East pursue a conventional arts subjects followed by science. Few trail for commerce or accounting. People studying job oriented professional courses (medical, engineering, management, CA or CS or for that matter vocational courses) are still negligible. This situation needs to be reversed. Unemployment issue is reasoned with their educational background which is arts centric. Student migrants choose subjects which require less effort/study for appearing in examinations. Ultimately, they remain unemployed or became employed in low profile job. In Delhi, student migrants effortlessly get admission into higher studies because of the reservation policy for Scheduled Tribes and Castes as well as Other Backward Classes. The educational system (subject options, syllabus, class lecture, examination standard) is relatively better in Delhi than these states; so the prospect of becoming employed is greater apart from other exposure like scholarship abroad. Recently, many new courses mostly professionals and or specialised are being offered. Delhi has a wider opportunities or openings not only for jobs but for education too.

Students mostly after completing their studies continue to stay back in Delhi with the financial support from their parents, sibling and even self by doing a part time job (like in call centres) and continue to seek for better and secured employment. Of course there are return migrants, who return back to their place of origin after failing to get their aspired job or after completion of their education or after financial supports are withdrawn or return for marriage and settlement, which aggravated the unemployment problem at their place of origin i.e. Manipur and Nagaland. Additionally, it is difficult to estimate the level of remittances. However, there is a significant amount of money remitted to their place of origin and improves their household standard of living, there are many instances in remitting money for construction of their house and for daily expenses. Interestingly, sibling who works in Delhi supports their sibling’s studies in Delhi itself. Therefore, migration from these states is not only for private benefit to get employment or learn in better educational system but also for social benefit  to lower social problems and improve economic conditions. 


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