Despite violence, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh migration will continue

February 21st, 2008 - 11:21 am ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Raj Thackeray
By Jaideep Sarin
Patna/Lucknow, Feb 21 (IANS) A well-established internal migration chain that pushes millions from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar to all parts of India in search of livelihood is unlikely to halt because of Raj Thackeray. Every year, hundreds of thousands make their way to their adopted homes in places like Mumbai, Delhi, Ludhiana, Noida, Ahmedabad, Chandigarh and many more towns. But they never forget their bonds to their home states.

A few hundred may have returned to their homes following violence in Maharashtra directed against migrants from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh - instigated by virulent statements from Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) leader Raj Thackerey - but that is unlikely to change the migration pattern from these states.

Extreme poverty, lack of jobs, illiteracy and other factors force the migrants from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh to move to other parts of India.

Although no official figures of migration from Uttar Pradesh are available, unofficial estimates place mass movement to Maharashtra, particularly to Mumbai, to the tune of 5-6 million.

About 3.5 million are believed to be working in Mumbai, India’s financial and entertainment capital, says Lucknow University professor Arvind Mohan.

Figures of migration from Bihar too run into millions but no exact figures are available with the government.

“The government has decided to conduct a survey to know the extent of migration,” Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi said. The migration trend has been there in Bihar for several decades but picked up in the 1980s.

An officially accepted fact in Bihar is that there is hardly a household without one or two members who have not migrated outside for jobs or education. In fact, both the census and National Sample Survey (NSS) reports suggest that Bihar has the highest rate of gross inter-state out-migration in India.

Modi said that it is estimated that nearly five million from Bihar migrate in search of livelihood - from petty jobs to small businesses - to all parts of India. “It is a big chunk of human resource,” he pointed out.

“The migrants go to all parts - from Jammu and Kashmir to Pondicherry, from Kerela to Goa. Their favourite places are metros like Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Bangalore or industrial hubs like Surat, Ahmedabad, Ludhiana and Jalandhar. The overcrowded Delhi-bound trains tell the story of migration from Bihar,” a labour department official from the state said.

In Delhi and surrounding areas, nearly one million Biharis are believed to be working in different sectors - as construction workers, rickshaw pullers, auto-rickshaw drivers and of course also in multinationals.

In Mumbai, migrants dominate sectors like pharmaceuticals, security services, real estate and dairy in various capacities.

A study by Mumbai-based NGO Bihari Front found that Biharis own four major Mumbai based pharmaceutical companies and two major security agencies. Together they employ at least 25,000 people, mostly migrants.

Many Biharis in Mumbai drive taxis, are into gem processing and sell ‘bhelpuri’. On an average, 1,000 money orders are sent from Noida, adjoining Delhi, to Bihar every day.

Economy is the main reason people from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh migrate.

At least 22 million of Uttar Pradesh’s 170 million people are unemployed. “No state government seems to have done anything concrete to generate remunerative employment,” points out former Lucknow University vice chancellor Roop Rekha Verma, a well-known social activist.

(With inputs from Sharat Pradhan and Imran Khan)

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