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Rural To Urban Migration In India Economics Essay


Geographically India is divided into 28 states and 7 union territories. There is a tremendous difference in the combined population size across the state. India constitutes around 30 percent of the total population, which is around 309 million persons were migrants based on place of last residence (Bhagat, 2005).

As a result of rapid economic growth for past few decades, since the initiation of economic reforms in 1990, India has been experiencing the rapid urbanization flow from rural to urban migration. Urban population growth in the developing countries is far more rapid than the population growth generally, about half the urban growth is accounted for by migrants from rural areas. Cities in developing world are growing more rapidly that developed countries (Banerjee, 1983). Inequalities, insecurity, humiliation, agony, poverty and human unhappiness are also multiplying due to urbanization. These main problems will make worse, especially when aided by population explosion and increasing migration. The total population of India is 1028 million consisting of 532 millions males and 496 million females, according to 2001 census (

In this essay we are going to discuss; what drives Migration? How many migrated? What effects does this have? This essay will cover the migration of persons within states or between the states based on crossing geographical boundaries. Firstly we will cover the rural to urban migration which shows us the demographic structure of migration within India. This will assess the different steams’ of migration at all India level over a decade. This will give us a brief description when was the migration of people at the highest peak. Below data consist of 1991 and 2001 censes. Secondly, we are going to study the patter on migration between intra states, which will show is the migration flow. This data even covers the male and female ratio of migration between states. This flow can tell us about the development structure and their migrated population of that particular city or area. Thirdly, we are going to talk about the labour and the employment oriented migration, which will help us to know why migration takes place to that particular state or city. Even will explain the education level, with which we can differentiate the skilled and non-skilled labour migration.

We are going to discuss the affects of urbanization to both urban cities and rural cities, which lead to social and economic disorder. Which leads other side effects to the city and its development? Even factors affecting the rural agricultural areas. Lastly we are going into little more deep affects on the Indian society, which leads to nuclear families. As Joint families is a silent feature of Indian society and how urbanization is leading us to westernization. This topic will address the above discussion by reviewing some of the major theoretical and pragmatic findings concerning migration from rural to urban migration. In discussion I have given my practical experience, which helps us to know present situation of India. Then the conclusion, urban cities should plan about their development of infrastructure according to the migration ratio. We should have a strong plans and their successive operation for the benefits of poor migrants is now very important. The only we will be able to handle the effects of urbanization and bring upward transformation.

Rural to Urban Migration

Migration from one area to another in search of improved livelihood is a key feature of human history. While some regions and sectors fall behind in their capacity to support populations, other move ahead and people migrate to access these emerging opportunities. Industrialization widens the gap between rural and urban areas, including a shift of the workforce towards industrializing areas.

Migration from Rural to Urban areas expands due to the following three factors: natural growth of population, reclassification of rural areas as urban in course of time and rural to urban migration. Around 2/5th of the total urban growth in the Developing countries is accounted by the rural to urban migration (Gugler, 1988). More than a half of the urban labour force works in the informal sector of low-skilled, low productivity, often self-employed jobs in pretty sales and services. Any social policy that affects rural and urban incomes will persuade by migration; this will affect the economics of the state or the income distribution and even the population growth. The Harris and Todaro model says that creating job opportunities in the urban areas can actually lead to an increase in unemployment by attracting more migrants than the new jobs (Harris & Todaro, 1970). As per my experience in India, many MNC’s are trying to attract jobs for IT industry and creating employment opportunities. This has lead to a disaster because there is more number of migrants coming into the city in Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi, Chennai, etc looking out for jobs. This has lead to increase in the percentage of unemployment. Due to these all factors, it costs to over crowded cities; excessive migration also imposes external costs on the rural areas emptied of better education.

In 1901, the urban population was only 25.85 million constituting around only 10.84 percent of India’s population and which has increased to 285.85 million comprising 27.78 percentage of total population in 2001. The growth rate was highest observed during 1971-81(46.14 percent) and later there was slowing down of urbanisation. The indicators of urbanization are given in Table 1, this will give us a brief idea of the growth rate of urbanization in India in mid 1971 to 1981(Bhagat, 2005). In India we have census only till 2001, so according to my research there was re-growth in urbanization due to IT enabled services such as BPO, Back office support, software development and these all factors made the rural population come to the larger cities in search of a job, growing the urban population (Bhagowati, 2005).

indictors of urbanization.gif


Even though we such urbanization the rural and urban areas are very much interdependent on each other. Urban cities provide several services such as marketing of agricultural products and inputs, repairs of agricultural equipments and also education and health services to rural areas. Urban areas are becoming important because they are providing services to the rural population; an indicator called number of urban centres per 10 lakh rural populations is included in table 1. All the above statistics will tell us the number of migrations from Rural to Urban, there is no specific job related migration to explain an exact reason of migrating people. But later in this essay we will discuss the interstate migration, labour or employment oriented migration.

Inter – state migration flows

Migration from rural to urban would be enough to measure the amount of migrating population within the country, the direction from which the migrants moved can be used to determine the pattern and structure of internal migration. See in Table 2 Intra and Interstate migration of Males and Females.

intra state.gif


intra state2.gif

Source: Mitra & Murayma, 2008.

From the largest three or four cities of out-migration proportions of each state, it is clear that majority of the migrants have moved to neighbouring states only. However there are exceptions for this. Due to the cosmic size of India and large differences in physical and cultural differences across India, migration trends in this country shows some specific features. As we can see in the above given Table 2, with respect to distance of migration, intra-state migration is the major accounting of migration. More than a half of migration took place within the district and the numbers of migrants decreased as the distance become longer. But an interesting research made by Eldis Community which says that around 41 percentage of all migrants, migrated to Maharashtra from Uttar Pradesh even though Maharashtra is not a border state. Similarly, out migrants from Orissa preferred Gujarat and Maharashtra as the destination which contributes around 34 percent. In the case of Bihar, nearly 50 % of them have migrated to West Bengal, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand. Bihar and Uttar Pradesh together constitutes up to 70% of the total migration in India. More than 1/3rd of the Tamil Nadu migrated to Karnataka and rest of them choose mainly Kerala, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh. This all together pattern shows that Maharashtra has got the most migrants from every part of India in search of Labour or Professional job. The reason behind it was Mumbai because it is called the financial Capital of India.

Reason of Migrations

India has been collecting information on the reasons of migration related to the place of last residence. The most important reason for a female migration is the marriage, accounting for more than half of the migrants. This is because of the Indian custom of women migrating to her husband’s place after marriage. More than 1/10th of the migrants move because of business and employment, while education constitutes 2 % of all the migrants (Bhagat, 2004).

The government servants transferring from one place to another is treated under National Sample Survey (NSS).

Droughts and Floods sometimes occur in many parts of India, so many people migrate due to that reason. This was one of the reasons recorded in 1981 and 1991 census. This ratio has been dropped down tremendously according to 2001 census (National Sample Survey, 2001).Even the survey has given importance to the manmade disasters like riots and social disturbance as a reason of migration. Terrorism is also causing local people to migrate, who live on boarder areas of India. Thousands of people are getting displaced due to construction of highway, industrial establishment, and immigrating to foreign countries. In India woman give her first birth at her parental house rather than her husband’s place. The baby born at parental house is a migrant. These are few main reasons why people migrate from one place to another.

Labour or Employment oriented migration

As we can see the migration of labour and employment are growing in all the three sectors like agriculture, industries and service employ very large number of Migrant workers. Many migrant labours are from textile, construction, stone quarries and mines, brick-Kilns, small scale industries, crop transplanting and harvesting, rickshaw pulling, food processing including fish and prawn processing, salt planning, domestic work, security service etc... (Deshingkar & Akter, 2009).

The main reason for the migrants are work and business, it is found that employment oriented migrants are quite small, mostly the female migrants compared to male migrants giving employment or business as the reason for their migration.

Table 3: Employment Oriented Migrants (%).

employee oriented migrants1.gif

As shown in Table 3, that the migrants towards urban areas are still more likely to be associated with employment oriented reasons. This table also shows the percentage of female migration is quite low, whether it is urban or rural migration. Around 40 % have moved for work related reasons from rural to urban areas (Lusome, 2006). However, this essay is considering only the long term migration for the analysis. As we can see in the table 4, that the employee oriented have gone in search of (a) In search of employment to (e) proximity to place of work and their reason for their migration. Labour work force stated that they have migrated for current employment or in search of a job.

Table 4: Labour Migrants (% of Migrants).

labour migration.gif


As we can see that 45.5 % of male migrants have reported employment related reason for migration, while just 2.2 % of female migrants have reported employment and work related reason for migration.

We can determine the pattern of skilled and non-skilled labour by determining the pattern of education. As we can see in Table 5 that the labour with higher level of education qualification migrates for employment and work related reasons irrespective of duration.

Table 5: Employment oriented migration by educational qualification and duration

employment qulified migrants.gif Source:

We can even see in the Table 5 difference between male and female migration on educational level. Even the employment oriented female migrants ranging from as low as 1.1 percentage in ‘illiterate and primary’ to the graduate is also lower than compared to male. Higher percentage of males have moved for employment and related reasons, ranging 37 % in primary category to about 59 % in graduate and above category. The above all statistics we got to know how much skilled and non-skilled labour migrated. Even with the male and female ratio, we could find that male migration is the highest, but even female migrates for work or mainly they migrate with a male/husband/family.

Factors affecting Rural to Urban Migration

Migration is a practice livelihood strategy adopted in India and not simply a response to shocks (Deshingkar & Anderson, 2004). People certainly do migrate because there is not enough work locally in rural areas, but such migration should not be understood as forced or distress migration. Many poor and unskilled people perceive migration as an opportunity.

There are various problems affecting massive distressed migration of people from rural areas to urban areas which causes unbalanced urbanization and extreme urban decay in India. Due to mass migration poverty, unemployment and underdevelopment increases (Mukherji, 2001). Firstly, poor, landless, illiterate and unskilled agricultural labours and poor farmers from backward state moves to the urban cities like Kolkata, Mumbai, New Delhi, Chennai and other big towns, which fails them to give them minimum employment. Due to such migration patterns, leads to urban slums and footpath dwelling and very poor level of living characterize such urban cities. Even has could lead to shortage of extreme housing, basic essentials for living like food, water, electricity, sewage and transportation (Ministry of urban Development, New Delhi, 1998). Secondly, due to unskilled migrants coming into urban areas, where in urban areas they have very limited employment-generation capacity under industrialization. So the migrants are paid very less wages and mostly they are exploited due to lack of knowledge. Although such migration helps to avoid starvation but it does not improve their economic conditions. Thirdly, such cities are filled with slums with poor human developed index, which constitutes less sanitation, water and electricity. Lastly, Due to such metropolitan cities develop very fast becoming more economic inequality “where rich get richer and poor get poorer”. This will lead to extreme social disorder, severe class conflict, crimes, widespread violence and urban civil war (Mukherji, 2000).

We have only seen the effect on the urban areas, if people started to migrate from rural areas to urban areas it will affect the agriculture side. India is known as a country of agriculture, if the food supply will be low then the rates will go high of the basic amenities. This will lead to greater inflation rate and poverty too.

Nuclear family a side effect of urbanization

The main cultural silent feature of Indian society is the joint family. But the urbanization and modernization brought enormous changes in the family system. The traditional family system have been changed so much that it is gradually on the diminish lines from the urban scene. There is absolutely no chance of reversal of this trend. In rural areas the size of joint families has been substantially reduced or is found in its fragmented form, some are due to migration of rural to urban areas. The reason behind this is when the male migrates to any urban cities, living a joint family in cities is more expensive then in villages (Singh, 2004). The joint family in rural areas is surviving in its skeleton, all the male / adults have migrated to cities either to pursue higher education or to secure more profitable job. A joint family in the native village is the source of nuclear families in towns.

The nuclear family, same as elsewhere, is now the characteristic feature of the Indian society. All households nuclear family constitutes 70 % and single member or more than one member households without spouse with 11 %. This is overall picture about the entire country, whereas in the case of cities the proportion of nuclear is somewhat higher (this data is available from National Family and health survey, 1998-99). Even the divorce rate and the amount of single member are increasing slowly in the influence of western culture. This is believed to be because the united States have got higher level of urbanization, which tends to higher nuclear family members. About decades ago almost 20 percent households had only single person in USA (Skolnick, 1980). The dissolution of joint families to nuclear families are relatively higher in younger people. This is because young man and women wants to be financially independent, more career-oriented, who can take are confident of taking their own decision, where they cannot do in joint family. As we can see from the above discussion that Indian society which was collectivist is going on a path of westernization, being independent and bending more towards individualistic approach.


Migration from rural to urban in intra state is been increasing slowly with industrialization and modernization in India. The main reason for migration is Employment or business related migration. The ratio comparison of male and female migration; where male migration constitutes the highest level of migration in India. This shows that female usually migrates as accompanists of males through several other factors like after marriage or family transfer. But with the recent survey single females are also slowly increasingly moving out in search of a job (Mitra, 2003). As we have seen in the above Table 2 that most of the male population moves to advanced state like Gujarat and Maharashtra. Especially the poor population shows highest mobility in search of jobs or livelihood in the urban cities. Due to this poor population labours have been poorly paid and exploited, and thus by increasing in inequality in the society.

Secondly we have seen reason of migration; the National Sample Survey (NSS) is trying to gather as much information about the migration. NSS is also collecting information about the employment and unemployment of the migrants. These all information could help India to develop its infrastructure, to adopt these kinds of migrants. Then we have seen that how urbanization is affecting Indian societies. The rise in nuclear families; which has break-down the old traditional joint family system. Many Men and women want to be independent and work into cities; this is a slow destruction of traditional family values, increasing in more number of working mothers in cities and single parents, even increase in cases of divorce rates. This has lead to neglecting of children and elderly people. Joint families cannot be afforded in urban cities so they keep their elderly parents in rural areas, which is an indication of danger for the collectivist families in India. Urbanization has caused other side effect like rise in domestic violence, practice of dowry. To save these kind of traditional values and institutions of family, there is a need of a set of strong, consistent policies to strengthen the Indian family system.

Finally i would like to conclude that this concerned migration and urban involution in India, we need to have a new research perspective, as well as new and alternative planning prescriptions. We should have a strong plans and their successive operation for the benefits of poor migrants is now very important. The only we will be able to handle the effects of urbanization and bring upward transformation.

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