Economics and Politics of Migration in Uttarakhand

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Amartya sen described the falling sex ratio in India as ‘missing women’, while Migration from the villages of Uttarakhand drawn out just opposite picture of ‘missing men’[1] in the state. From the villages of Uttarakhand men are missing because small terraced fields are not able to satisfy the need of entire family as a result men migrate to other areas for his livelihood and necessities of the family. Usually they prefer most to join army forces being best employment opportunity as well as secure income for them otherwise they move forward to other sectors. Only few migrants are lucky who succeed to migrate entire family with him but all are not fortunate enough. Most migrant male workers have to wait until they get secure employment till then it’s a distributed family in which woman, children and parents left behind in the villages. Education is second biggest factor, after employment, responsible for migration. People send their children to distant towns like Almora, Nainital and Dehradun for suitable educational opportunities. In most cases, male children are prioritised for better education which prepares them to be ready to migrate. In the survey of study, it was found that near to fifty percent young males in age group 18-35 years, have migrated for different reasons from villages. (Bose Ashish, 2000)



Eco and Pol Migration



Migration from the hills of Uttarakhand has been a long term process which is continuous today also. When Uttarakhand was part of Uttar Pradesh, migration from hill districts was there. At that time hill districts of Uttar Pradesh was considered as backward region because this region used to lack in employment opportunities as well as in basic necessary services like most essential education and training (excepting Dehradun and Nainital), health services and other amenities. Therefore, these factors ‘pushed’ people to migrate to plain areas of Uttar Pradesh or to Delhi. When government of Uttar Pradesh imposed the reservation quota in government services people opposed the decision of government because almost the entire population was out of that reservation quota and the posts would have to be filled from plain areas. This heavy opposition of government took a big political movement in which the demand of the ‘separate state’ was come out as main objective. The demand of the separate state had been appearing out for long before. But it was the turning point which motivated people to come out in heavy amount to make it big movement for the purpose of forming a new state. The vision behind the movement for new state was that if new state forms this backward region would definitely move forward. The government of hills would focus on the hills and wouldn’t ignore the aspirations of people of hill areas which used to be neglected before by Uttar Pradesh governments. It was also believed that new state would sort the problems of employment, education and training, health facilities and other infrastructural facilities which would prevent people from out-migrating. They used to think that local government of hills would work for the development of hills which would lead to better opportunities for employment and other areas in the region for the local people.


Eco and Pol Migration1


After a long movement and sacrificing many lives, the deep-rooted wish of people of hilly districts came true when a new state came into existence. When the new state formed there were new hopes, opportunities and possibilities in the eyes of people. People were dreaming that after a long time now situations will turn in favour of them. But just after the formation of state people realized that they have been cheated from the new government. Unwanted decisions of the new government tried to play with the emotions of people of hill areas. In which some of them unwanted decision are here. Newly formed government elected Nityanand Swami as first chief minister of the state who declared as outsider by the people. State named with ‘Uttaranchal[2]’ while it was proposed ‘Uttarkhand’ commonly by hill community. While it had been decided from both ‘Garhwal’ and ‘Kumaon’ (two regions in state differentiated on culture and community basis) in one sound that capital of state must have been located in hill districts and declared ‘Gairsain’ appropriate but the government better chose ‘Dehradun’ as state capital. In all these fronts government betrayed with the expectation of people and moved ahead against the emotions of people.

After few years the picture of development in the state also cleared out. The developmental progress in this state was not as satisfactory as it was expected before the formation. It was clear to see that an inequality has been emerged between the hill districts i.e. Pahad and plain districts i.e. Maidan in terms of development and infrastructural facilities. The actions of the governments have created the fine line of development which is restricted only to the plain districts. The strategies of government policies providing huge opportunities in plain districts while the hill districts left behind[3], they are again at the point where one can only wish for betterment. This uneven distribution of resources widened the gap of developmental standard between hills and plains. The residents of the hills are facing same situation as before the state formation. At present, hill districts are again lacking from employment opportunities and far behind from necessary amenities which leading people to migrate to plain areas in the state even after the formation of eleven years. After formation of Uttarakhand, due to stable reasons migration remained unchanged (even increased) but the distance of migration reduced. Now people are leaving their home from hill districts and residing in plain districts in this same state which seems like the tug of war and it is Pahad Vs. Maidan[4].


Eco and Pol Migration2


In the end, one question arises in each mind who thinks about Uttarakhand that when region is full of natural resources and people are hard working then why Uttarakhand can’t be developed and why Uttarakhand fails to provide opportunities for its people who have to decide to migrate outside? Here the answer comes that planners or policy makers just talk about investment and return but forget the people. For adequate investment in the region need skilled labour. But lack of skilled and qualified human resource prevent region from investment therefore skill has to come from outside. As we all know, education plays an important role in nourishing and improving skills and improvement in educational level, quantitatively as well as qualitatively, is sole responsibility of government. But considering the large number of unskilled men and recognizing the unfortunate condition of government education it is well said[5], “Government education has made people unfit for any skilled labour and has produced only worthless certificates”. (Bose Ashish, 2000)



Singh A. (2012), "Role of Government Policies in Addressing the Issue of  Out-Migration in Uttarakhand", Doon University

Bruslé T. (2008), “Choosing a Destination and Work: Migration Strategies of Nepalese Workers in Uttarakhand, Northern India”, Mountain Research and Development, Vol. 28, No. 3/4

Perloff J. M., Lynch Lori and Gabbard S. M. (1998), “Migration of Seasonal Agricultural Workers”, American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Vol. 80, No. 1

Jennissen R. (2007), “Causality Chains in the International Migration Systems Approach”, Population Research and Policy Review, Vol. 26, No. 4

Cooke T. J. and Bailey A. J., (1996), “Family Migration and the Employment of Married Women and Men”, Economic Geography, Vol. 72, No. 1

Acharya Akash (2000), “Migration from Hilly Areas”, Letter to editor, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 35, No. 34

Bose Ashish (2000), “Demography of Himalayan Villages: Missing Men and Lonely Women”, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 35, No. 27

Jayal Niraja G., (2008), “Same Wine, Same Bottle, New Lable?”, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 35, No. 49

Mittal S., Tripathi G., Sethi D. (2008), “Development Strategy for the Hill Districts of Uttarakhand”, Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations

[1] Bose Ashish (2000)

[2] Later in 2007 it was changed to ‘Uttarakhand’.

[3] By Kar Sabyasachi (2007), cited in ‘Development Strategy for the Hill Districts of Uttarakhand’

[4] As cited by Niraja G Jayal., in ‘Same Wine, Same Bottle, New Lable?’

[5] Said by Ashit Mitra, as cited in Demography of Himalayan Villages: Missing Men and Lonely Women, Bose Ashish(2000)

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