Sah and Shah (2003) have established that incidence of poverty in Southwestern tribal belt is alarmingly high. About three-fifths of the households in this tribal belt are categorised as chronic poor. A large part of chronic poverty is due to access failure to production resources: population pressure and declined landholdings; recurring droughts and access failure to land-based livelihood; lack of off-farm employment avenues and consumption loan from moneylender result in a debt-trap that pulls people into chronic poverty. Seasonal migration in this tribal belt is regarded as an essential coping mechanism especially in response to a shock, including crop failure, son's marriage, serious sickness et cetera. The objective of this paper is to analyse the observations relating to seasonal migration from two villages, Pospur and Kirchali, of Badwani district of Southwestern tribal belt of Madhya Pradesh (1). We have tried to establish, in this paper, that (i) a shock can induce a complex socio-economic process like access failure to food, debt-trap and depletion of assets, short-term land transactions, withdrawal of children from school and migration; (ii) all location and households do not respond in the same pattern; for some, migration means livelihood option, for others it means savings, asset formation and technology transfer; (iii) locational disadvantage in a shock can be overcome by investment in agriculture. We have used both qualitative and quantitative methods in data collection. The qualitative data provided understanding on extent and patterns of migration and its consequences, which were developed using wealth ranking exercise, case studies and group discussions. The quantitative data were generated for 84 sample households that provide information relating to incidence and intensity of seasonal migration, income and saving from migration and the correlates of migration.
A voluminous literature is available explaining migration that mirrors the discipline and ideological underpinnings of the researcher. Although sociologist like Lee (1966) conceptualised migration as the play of negative and positive forces that respectively pushes a migrant from the place of origin to migrate and pulls him to the place of destination, neoclassical constructs dominated the explanations. Locating migration decisions at the household level and arguing that such decisions are based on opportunities and constraints that the households face, the neoclassical theorists propagated human capital theory (Sjaastad: 1962; Todaro: 1969, 1980). This construct argued that inclination to migrate is determined by difference in income between source and destination of migration, and may result in equating expected income. Given their skills, decisions about where to live are based on where individuals can optimise the present value of their discounted stream of expected future earnings. Migration according to Saxena (1977) may be motivated by a desire to seek skill and leads to development, urbanisation and socio-economic transformation. In the same ween, Stark (1980) identifies transaction cost, imperfect information and imperfect credit, land and labour markets as main determinants of migration. On the other hand, researches driven by Marxist ideology (Breman: 1985; Olsen & Murthy: 2000) identified structural constraints of capitalist system as main source of exploitation of migrant labours. In absence of alternatives, in extreme cases, monopoly creditor also becomes a monopsony buyer of migrant's labour (Olsen & Murthy: 2000). But the recognition that seasonal migration also provides a respite from interlocked credit, land and labour transactions were never missing. Breman (1985) also shows that while for resource poor, migration is a coping mechanism that provides means for debt servicing, for the well-endowed it increases households' earnings, creditworthiness and ability to manage crisis. Breaking away from the neoclassical interpretations of determinants of migration, Mosse et. al. (2002) argue that 'migration is not an external factor impinging upon or undermining agrarian society. Existing social relations and inequalities, which define differential opportunities, constraining experiences and social outcome, profoundly shape it. Moreover, migration contributes to continuation and intensification of agriculture and social networks on which it depends'. Insufficient land, larger dependency within family and poor are more likely to seasonally migrate than others. Sah (1999) argues that access failure to resources as well as constraints on markets influence seasonal migration.
In a resource poor economy, the existing economic hierarchy collapses during a shock like crop failure, drought, sickness, death, son's marriage, Notra (gifts in social ceremonies), Jhagda (dispute settlement), population pressure (2), et cetera. In this situation, heads of even larger landholding households also have to borrow to meet the eventualities. In order to repay such loans some of the family members of the household have to migrate. In what follows, we try to establish that during a shock depletion of assets and related borrowings has strong positive influence on intensity of migration. Postulate a village consisting 'n' households with per capita calorie intake of the ith household [c.sub.i] such that during normal situation the available food stock with the households [G.sub.i] is able to support the intake at the minimum per capita per day acceptable level [c.sup.*] for all Mi of its members for rest of the di days till the new harvest arrives. During a shock there are, however, households whose per capita intake falls short of [c.sup.*] by an amount [s.sup.i] for remaining [D.sup.i] days. Under such circumstances, in order to maintain the minimum level of intake, [m.sub.i] out of [M.sub.i] members of household migrate for [D.sub.i] days in such a way that:
[c.sup.*]. ([M.sub.i]-[m.sub.i]) [D.sub.i] + [c.sup.*]. [M.sub.i]. ([d.sub.i]-[D.sub.i]) < [G.sub.i]
The following implications relating to seasonal migration may be noted. First, the decision to migrate is not taken by any individual in isolation; seasonal migration is a group decision, taken by the household as a whole, perhaps even by several households together. The cost of information relating to destination, movement of the group, type of work and wage contract, dwelling at the destination and payment to middlemen et cetera may be shared by households who perceive seasonal migration inevitable for the larger interest of their families. During a shock existing food stock are augmented to [s.sub.i] by taking a loan from the local bania. Second, the duration of seasonal migration is controlled by households' perception about the shortfall in consumption [s.sub.i.] As soon as the shortfall is overcome and borrowed loan repaid, the migrating members are free to rejoin the family; i.e. no sooner mi.[c.sup.*]. [D.sub.i] = [s.sub.i] in such a manner that savings from migration are enough to repay the loan, the time to return is opportune. Third, after the decision to seasonally migrate has been taken, there may not be many households whose intake falls below [c.sup.*]. In fact, among the 'n' households in the village, those opting for seasonal migration may be the ones with relatively higher intake levels. It can be seen from the above construct that if the migrating members from a household choose to stay for more than the required days at their destination the per capita intake of the remaining members of household may be maintained at higher levels than [c.sup.*]. In a scarcity situation, it is highly probable that the calorie intake of the remaining members of migrating households is higher than of the members of non-migrating households in the village. These households may also have some savings and assets. Lastly, the decision to migrate could confer larger societal benefit provided the consumption level of migrant is maintained at least at [c.sup.*] level at the destination without adversely affecting the wage rate. Although it is difficult to establish fully the above construct, evidence provided by our research indicates the operation of the process.
Extent and Pattern of Migration
There has been a long tradition of tribal migration in search of employment from the region (Baviskar: 1997). There are evidences that even in early 1970s, up to 40 per cent of total working populations of the Eastern tribal belt of Gujarat migrated seasonally in search of livelihood (Bureau: 1974). Breman (1985) describes such seasonal migration as marginal tribal farmers' efforts to prevent a slide down in the agrarian ladder. Evidences that are more recent reveal that over period of time, intensity of migration in terms of number, duration and distance has increased (Patel: 2001). This increase in migration can be attributed to both push and pull forces operating on the tribal economy; access failure to food in the village pushes the tribal out to seasonally migrate whereas the expansion of labour demand in irrigated agriculture as well as in the urban-industrial sectors in Gujarat and Maharashtra pull them to migrate in search of higher wages. But such explanations will be partial for, at societal level a complex process operates that governs migration.
Agriculture is the main economic activity in both Kirchali and Pospur during normal years. But agriculture does not provide sustenance for whole year for a sizeable number of households even during normal years. Poor quality of land, insufficient landholdings and low productivity are the main reasons that force households to resort to labouring in and around the villages. This also forces some households to work in cotton gins in Sendhwa or migrate seasonally. In abnormal situations like 2001-02, about 92 per cent of households from Pospur and about 46 per cent of households from Kirchali have reported seasonal migration of some of their family members. The major reasons for larger migration from Pospur in comparison to Kirchali are remoteness, its difficult and undulating terrain, poor soil and indifferent agricultural productivity, lack of employment opportunities and larger borrowings. Relative remoteness of Pospur in terms of its physical distance from agro-processing and industrial markets has resulted in significantly higher reliance on seasonal migration of …