Labour & Migration

Reports & BriefsPublished ArticlesBooks & ChaptersWorking Papers
Internal Migration in India: Distress and Opportunities
Harsh Mander and Gayatri Sahgal

This report seeks to investigate the lived experiences of internal migrants to vulnerable occupations to Delhi. It aims also identify to distress, if any, which motivates such internal migration for villages to vulnerable occupations in cities; as well as explore the following questions: how do these migrants organise their movement to the city, and for what periods do they stay in the city? What is the nature and frequency of their interactions with their families in the village they have left behind? What are their experiences of living and work in the city? What are their conditions of work: wages, work hours, security, safety and dignity? What is the extent they are able to access legal protections, and food, social security and livelihood schemes to which they are entitled as citizens?

GDP Grows But Job Security Falls: Only 16% Indians Earn Regular Wage
Vivek Mishra and Anirban Bhattacharya
IndiaSpend 2017

This article explores the casualisation of labour, and the contemporary context of labour and job security in India. The brunt of increasing casualisation of labour is borne by marginalised sections of society, and this article highlights some of the implications and dangers experienced by casual workers in the informal sector.

At the Cost of a Day’s Earnings, Delhi’s ‘Palledars’ Stage May Day Protest
Radhika M Chakraborty, Shruti Iyer and Usman Jawed
The Wire, 2018

This May Day, palledars (loading workers) from the APMC Azadpur sabzi mandi marched to the office of the Labour Commissioner to demand the introduction of the Mathadi Act in Delhi. The satyagraha, led by the Rashtriya Hamal Panchayat (RHP), had around a hundred participants with one key demand: the introduction of a Mathadi Law in Delhi and in other states. The palledars are informal labourers who carry loads by handcart, cycle, or on their heads and backs. Their working conditions are extremely harsh — as daily wage labourers without fixed wages, they also have no set terms of work and often work over 12-16 hours a day with no access to basic amenities or social security. The Maharashtra Mathadi, Hamal and other Manual Workers Act has been identified as one of the earliest pieces of legislation to guarantee social security and regulation of working conditions for loading workers; and the RHP hopes that bringing in the Act could be the first step towards dignity of labour and social security for headloaders in Delhi as well.

Labour Markets: Exclusion from ‘Decent Work’
Coen Kompier et al.
India Exclusion Report, 2014

This chapter of the India Exclusion Report (2013-14) explores exclusions from, and state interventions for, Decent Work, defined as ‘productive work by men and women, in conditions of freedom, equity, safety and dignity’, where productive work is that which benefits people by enabling the generation of an adequate income. It argues that policy makers have failed to adequately consider the dynamics of labour markets in India, leading to the exclusion of a large section of workers from access to decent work. It presents the key consequences of this exclusion, and makes recommendations for the state to fulfill its major responsibilities in this area; namely to stimulate job growth, uphold rights at work and put minimum social security in place.

The Changing Nature of Bonded Labour in India Shikha Sethia
India Exclusion Report, 2014

This chapter of the India Exclusion Report (2013-14) explores how labour bondage has evolved over time and how contemporary bonded labour arrangements are typically organized. It addresses which sections of society are most vulnerable to labour bondage, the factors that push labour into bondage and the factors that sustain the practice of labour bondage; and the role of public action in influencing state action for eradicating labour bondage. It presents recommendations for state action, and makes a case for the idea of decent work as essential to any response towards total eradication of bonded labour in all its forms.

What Keeps Musahars Entrapped in Poverty?
Sajjad Hassan
India Exclusion Report, 2014

Musahars, according to some anthropological accounts, draw their antecedents from the Kol tribe of Chhotanagpur (in Jharkhand), having migrated to paddy cultivable areas of what is currently Bihar, probably from the 12th century, and have been the single largest source of agricultural labour in the region since. In their movement from tribal hills to the plains, they came in contact with a sedentary, agricultural, caste-based society, characterized by Brahmanical concepts of purity and pollution, and were incorporated into the caste hierarchy at the lowest rank, becoming untouchable. This chapter examines the specific nature of Musahar exclusion, focusing in particular on the role of caste in sustaining their exploitation and marginalization. It highlights some of the key characteristics of Musahar poverty and exclusion, attempts by civil society to mobilize Musahars and strengthen their ‘voice’, and presents recommendations for reform.