Time to acknowledge migrants’ contribution
Most developed economies face demographic challenges a falling young population and a growing older population.
The latest World Bank report on remittances predicts that for the first time ever, India’s annual remittances may touch the $100-billion mark in 2022. This puts the nation ahead of others—with $60 billion, Mexico is a distant second—in remittance inflows, thanks to a large pool of immigrants benefiting from wage hikes and a strong labour market. The sliding rupee value is helping remittance flows rise.
Migrants—domestic and international—positively contribute to the countries they migrate to yet are derided as a burden on those economies. The hatred towards migrant workers is based on the premise that they take away jobs and corner benefits from government schemes meant for locals. In reality, migrants are a big value addition, filling the demand-supply gap in the labour market and making the economy more sustainable and vibrant.
Most developed economies face demographic challenges a falling young population and a growing older population. If not for migrant workers, many of these economies would face severe contraction in economic growth.
Some countries have attracted a large migrant population and leveraged it for economic prosperity.
Immigrants form 88% of the people of UAE (with a per capita income of over $36,000), 43% in Singapore and 30% in Australia. As much as 15% of the US population are immigrants. Immigrants also contribute in a big way to the tax revenue of the country. For example, immigrants in the US contributed $330 billion in federal income taxes in 2019. This accounted for 20% of the total federal income tax collected that year. India also receives a large number of immigrants (estimated to be around six million) from countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
We have often seen right-wing organisations, political parties and religious groups fanning hatred towards immigrants, mocking their culture and religion. Similar hatred is seen towards migrants from states like Bihar, Jharkhand, UP and West Bengal.
This anti-immigrant attitude has its repercussions—social and economic. At 17.9 million, India constitutes the largest immigrant population in the world (according to a UN report in 2020). Recently, a UK minister’s anti-immigrant views resulted in the Indian government deferring the signing of the trade deal with the UK. You cannot expect respect from Indians working overseas while deriding immigrants here in India.