BENGALURU: Social discrimination and lack of economic stability force socio-economic minorities to migrate to other villages or cities, Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) chairman Sukhdeo Thorat said on Tuesday.
Hence, the state government should ensure social equality in villages, Prof Thorat said while inaugurating a seminar on ‘Distress labour migration within and towards southern Indian states’ organised by the Indian Social Institute. A Labour and Migration Unit of the institute was also inaugurated on the occasion.
Thorat said migration of Scheduled Castes and Tribes is triggered by social barricades and lack of social status. People in distress migrate out of compulsion and end up in a situation worse than before. They work for very low wages and that too in bad conditions, he said.
Stating that dalit labourers face discrimination in hiring, he said in rural areas, they are denied employment in certain categories. Dalits also constitute a high proportion of bonded labourers in the country, he said. The findings of the 2011 India census point to a decade of rural distress as a key reason for the acceleration in inter-state and intra-state labour migration. The 2008 National Sample Survey (NSS) data also shows that 39 per cent of the population in Karnataka are intra-state migrants.
“The collapse of livelihoods of millions in the agriculture and related sectors led to unemployment, poverty and hunger, and accelerated distress migration from rural to urban regions across states,” Thorat said.
He said these migrants face huge challenges in their search for security and income. Often exploited by human traffickers, and forced to work as bonded labourers, especially in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, they work in inhuman conditions and often lose their freedom to an advance received from the trafficker.
Bonded labour is common in brick kilns, rock quarries, rice mills, garment factories, waste-recycling units and several other labour intensive industries, Thorat said.
Martin Puthussery, coordinator, Labour and Migration Unit, said, “Migrant workers’ basic needs are neglected by employers and most often, they have no identity cards and housing and they receive very low wages. They are forced to work for long hours and have no way of formally organising themselves to ensure fair treatment.”
He said since migrant workers come from all over the country, they also face the challenge of not knowing the local language and culture and lack local contacts to assist them.
107 Bonded Labourers Rescued
According to a Labour and Migration Unit report, in May, 107 bonded labourers from Assam, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Nepal were rescued from an incense factory in Kanakapura.
These labourers had not received any salary, and were not allowed to step outside the factory, some of them for up to three years.