Academic journal article Political Economy Journal of India

Circular Migration: A Reflection from KBK Districts, Odisha

Academic journal article Political Economy Journal of India

Circular Migration: A Reflection from KBK Districts, Odisha

Article excerpt


Labour migration is an important livelihood strategy in India. There is significant migration flows, in some regions with considerable impacts on individuals, households and regions. However, not much is written on migration in India and its considerable costs and returns remain outside the public policy realm. Most of the studies on migration in India have shown that poor households participate extensively in migration. Permanent/semi-permanent shifts of population and workforce in India co-exist with the 'circulatory' movement of populations between lagging and developed regions, and between rural and urban areas, mostly being absorbed in the unorganized sector of the economy. Such movements show little sign of abating with development. (DFID, 2005).

In the study of demography, migration usually considered as the third component next to fertility and mortality. Migration generally connotes the movement of people from one place to another is entirely governed by the wishes of the person involved in the process of movement for whatever the purpose may be. Migration of people is the outcome of economic, social, political, physical/natural phenomenon which engulf either singularly or in combination to the individual or groups of individuals.

The word "migration" is derived from the Latin ward migrate means change of one's residence. It encompasses different aspects in term of 3Ds namely distance, duration and direction. Migration can also be considered from the point of view of purpose of movement. The UN Multilingual Demographic Directory defines "Migration is a form of geographical mobility or spatial mobility between one geographical unit to another, generally involving a change in residence from the place of origin or place of departure to the place of destination or the place of arrival. Such migration is called permanent migration and should be distinguished from other forms of movements which do not involve a permanent change of residence."

But the concept of circular migration may be defined as a temporary move from, followed by return to the original/normal place of origin/residence for the purpose of employment during the lean season of agricultural activities. Lack of sufficient local employment (both farm and non-farm) fragmentation and sub-division of land holding pushes the people to the areas of better employment opportunities in other higher productive and growth sectors. Common destination of these migrants which pull them include: command areas of different large irrigation projects, industrial belts, cities/urban localities, brick kilns, construction sector, rickshaw pulling, street vendor, railway coolies and informal sector where the jobs are available with a higher wage from the place of their origins. The push factors such as droughts and other natural calamities, irregular employment, low wage, destruction of traditional pattern of livelihood system, inadequate/lack of irrigation facility, low productivity, depletion of forest, declining land holding, poor quality of land, are being considered as strong push factors to push them up and join the rank of seasonal migrants. In many cases, it is found that even if migration does not reduce poverty, it can prevent further downward slide into the poverty trap. The dualistic model (Lewis, 1954, Fei and Ranis, 1961) explains the trend of labour migration from subsistence sector to the modern sector in the economy. It is the movement of labour from subsistence sector where labours marginal productivity is low and thereby prevails low wage, to modern sector where labours marginal productivity is high along with high wage rates.

Migration turns into circulation when the employment is of limited duration. A marked example of circulation is that of the seasonal workers who leave their villages often accompanied by wives and children, to escape the off-season in the agrarian cycle by working as cane-cutters or brick makers. …

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