Internal Migration of Labour

Migration of labour has gained great importance over past few decades, especially owing to the industrial development. Workers migrate intra as well as inter state for better employment opportunities as well as for a better living standard. Since migration is a dominant area of focus when it comes to the industrial world, it is important to look into the factors and consequences of such migration. We need to look into the role of the concerned authorities, legal aid clinics, NGOs towards the cause of internal migration. 

Internal Migration and Influencing Factors 

Internal migration basically means movement of people from one area to another within their country due to various factors. There are various kinds of internal migration. It can be rural to rural areas, or rural to urban areas or urban to urban migration. Internal migration is influenced by various factors like better employment opportunities, for a better living standards, migration due to marriages etc. Lets see them one by one:

  1. Urbanization : There has been a lot of shift of people from rural areas to the areas with better health, education, employment opportunities. People migrate to urban areas generally for a better wage and availability of more facilities in that particular city or area. 
  2. Marriage: Marriage is one of the most important institutions in the social life of people specially in India. It is an integral part of one’s life in a typical indian society. In a patriarchal society , females usually migrate because of marriage.
  3. Employment: People migrate because of better opportunities in the industrial sector, or any other sector in the area they migrate.


Internal migrants constitute almost 40% of the total population of India out of most of the migration has been recorded from rural to urban areas. When migrants move from one place to another , they face a lot of challenges in the new area. Let’s see them one by one[1]:

  1. Lack of documentation and identity: Since the migrants move to altogether new areas, they don’t have proper documentation and identification proof. Lack of identity proof makes availability of certain facilities provided by the government very difficult. Apart from the non accessibility to facilities but also makes them hostile to suspicion by the authorities and the host society.
  2. Health condition: The migrant workers are always subjected to poor health conditions, often presented with poor sanitation which is a factor responsible for poor health of the migrant workers. They often don’t have access to proper food and water which also makes them prone to poor health conditions. Health problems like respiratory problems, allergies, etc., are quite common among these people.
  3. Lack of educational facilities : Due to the internal migration, children of the workers often migrate with them to their place of work which affects their education in a negative way. Due to lack of identification and also sometimes language becomes a barrier in the education of children of these migrant labourers.
  4. Exclusion by the host society: Migrants are often treated poorly because the inflow of the migrants implies a threat to the natives of the host society. This fear of being hostile in their own society makes them discriminate against the migrant community. The migrant labourers due to this reason lacks social security and faces discrimination.
  5. Exploitation by the employers: Since the migrant labourers have zero knowledge of things like minimum wages and the wage rate in that particular area, they become hostile to exploitation by the people employing them. The wages fixed are way lesser than what they should be paid and often with no guarantee of health, shelter and other basic facilities that are integral to any person’s life.
  6. Poor condition of women workers: Among the 40% of the migrants population almost 20% of the migrants are females. Since the migrants are subjected to poor basic facilities. The female workers often are subjected to sexual harassment at work place, and often no proper toilet facilties for them. And ignorance of their menstrual hygiene is always a problem is which is not addressed properly.

Role of Government and the Policies

Now that we have seen the causes and consequences of the internal migration in India, it is important to look into the role of the government and the local authorities concerned. There are several policies made for the development of internal migrants. The policies include:

  • Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979;
  • Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986;
  • Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996;
  • Unorganized Workers Social Security Act, 2008;
  • Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970;
  • All the fundamental rights in the Indian Constitution (though not a policy but are the basic rights of every citizen of India). 

These are some of the policies which have provisions related to internal migration. These provisions definitely were included with an objective of working towards their welfare but unfortunately there are various loopholes in the actual execution which makes the policies non accessible to the workers in general. Only if the policies are made accessible and executed properly on the ground level then these policies have a meaning. 

Role of Legal Aid Clinics and NGOs to Fill the Gap

Legal aid clinics are the clinics set up to provide legal help to people in need. Their main objective is to provide legal assistance and spread legal awareness. Legal aid clinics have helped them assist and help them get their documentations and also help them open their bank accounts. They have also worked towards enrollment of the labourers in the trade unions and labourers unions so that they can have a back if they are exploited. These NGOs and legal aid clinics have also been working towards the issues related to health and education. These organisations play an important role in spreading awareness related to the risk of severe diseases like respiratory diseases, HIV, counselling for information related to these diseases. And related to the education of these children, there are many NGOs which have worked towards digital education through electronic devices and remote education facilities to the children of seasonal and even long term migrants. These organisations have not only worked towards health, education and identity , these NGOs and legal aid clinics have worked towards issues like providing social security and issues among women workers. They are working towards providing considerable solutions to these problems. The role these organisations have played and is playing is of immense importance.


India is a huge and diverse country with a large population. There is a high inflow of migrants within the country due to various factors and these migrants have many consequences which we discussed earlier. There is a lot to work on in terms of internal migrants. We don’t need a strong legislation, but we need a strong execution of the policies made for them. It should be made sure that it reaches the community it is made for. Then only the policies will be successful in its true sense. A strong strategy with accessibility and availability is the need of the hour to ensure a better and developed society for internal migrants.


[1] Challenges of internal migrants in India, available at: ( Last visited on 26th October 2020).

[2] Internal migrants in India, available at:,migrants%20has%20been%20314%20million.&text=41%20million%20(13%25)%20were,out%20side%20of%20the%20country.  ( Last visited on 25th October 2020).

BY- Tripti Khirwal |GD Goenka University

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