The Great Indian migration challenge


  • There is an emerging need to analyze the socio-economic aspects of north-south migration of India.


  • Despite the decline in total fertility rates (TFR) countrywide, 12 States of India continue to have TFR above 2.1 children per woman, known as replacement-level fertility.
  • However, when the TFR declines, the drop does not stop at 2.1, as seen in Kerala (1.6), Tamil Nadu (1.7) and Karnataka (1.8).


  • This leads to faster changes in the population structure characterized by a reduction in the proportion of young people and an increase in the proportion of the elderly.
  • One sees a predominantly youthful north and a maturing south and west.

Cause of the disproportion:

  • We can identify three strands of research on ageing and migration:
  • Firstly, there are older people who are left behind by migration. As younger age cohorts migrate, for work or lifestyle reasons, their parents and grandparents remain in the home country.
  • Secondly, even though the second generation wants to take older ones along with them, the latter tends to stay back in their native place.
  • Thirdly, Lack of growth in non-farming employment opportunities in rural areas due to low purchasing power.


  • The southern states will require a young workforce to keep institutions functioning efficiently, and also to take care of the elderly.
  • This need is likely to be met by people from the youthful north, with many moving to the ageing States.
  • The government should take effective steps in making adequate job and agriculture facilitates in the ageing states.


  • Most of the current and future demographic potential is locked in the northern States,
  • and largely located in Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh,

  • Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh.

  • As per population projections, these five States will account for more than 55% of population growth in India till 2030.
  • Those who are under 15 years of age today will become India’s working population in the coming decades, and almost every second person in this age group resides in these five States.

Challenges of Migration:

  • The challenges of moving into new communities that speak different languages and have different cultures need to be understood and addressed.

Physical Barriers

  • Physical Barriers include mountains
  • Vast expanses of places that are too cold such as tundra or too hot such as deserts discourage the movement of populations.
  • The vast expanse of oceans on both sides of the United States discouraged Europeans and others from invading North America.

Economic Barriers

  • Economic barriers to migration include poverty and high unemployment.
  • Economic decline often encourages further decline.

Political Barriers

  • Political barriers may keep people physically in-or out of a nation.
  • Or political barriers may exist in the form of laws that restrict the movement of people between places.

Cultural Barriers

  • Linguistic (language) barrier
  • Cultural barriers discourage practices that may violate social norms, values and beliefs.
  • Migrants are a particularly vulnerable group and see their rights routinely violated,
  • not only as workers, but as human beings.

  • They commonly face discrimination and xenophobic hostility.

Way Forward:

  • There should be a strong legislation to protect the children and the pensioners.
  • Increase participation of children and young people in the social, economic, political and cultural sphere to facilitate their transition to adulthood and avoid exclusion and decrease vulnerability.
  • Promote discussions and share information on issues, trends and practices that will advance the agenda of elders and children.
  • There is a need to gain deeper understanding of migration flows, so that estimations and projections can be made regarding changing need for housing and infrastructure, health care and utilities, education and skills.
  • There is a need to gain deeper understanding of migration flows, so that estimations and projections can be made regarding changing need for housing and infrastructure, health care and utilities,
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