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The Hindu Editorial

31-January-2024

1. A blurred mapping of internal female migration

Topic: GS3 – Indian Economy – Issues relating to development and employment.
Crucial for UPSC as it assesses socio-economic issues, gender dynamics, and policy implications of internal migration in India.
Context:
  • The article discusses the underrepresentation and challenges faced by women in internal migration in India.
  • It highlights data inaccuracies, misreported employment statuses, educational and social barriers, political neglect, and the need for targeted policies to address their unique issues.
 Internal Migration in India: A Gendered Perspective Data Inaccuracy and Underreporting:
  • The Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) estimates internal migration in India at 27% (June 2020-2021), but normative literature often portrays it as a male-dominated narrative.
  • Contrary to this, women, especially of working age, constitute a significant share of the migrant pool, raising concerns amid India’s falling Female Labour Force Participation Rate (FLFPR).
  • National surveys, including PLFS, present an inaccurate picture of female migration, primarily focusing on the primary reasons like marriage (81%), family migration (10%), and employment (2.42%).
Employment Status Misrepresentation:
  • PLFS data suggests approximately three-quarters of migrant women are unemployed, but anecdotal evidence and other studies indicate underreporting, particularly in casual employment in sectors like agriculture, construction, and domestic help.
  • Definitional issues contribute to misreporting, as women often engage in unpaid family work or self-employment, considering it an extension of domestic duties rather than formal employment.
Educational and Social Barriers:
  • Educational limitations hinder entry into the formal labor force for migrant women, with 85% having less than 10 years of education.
  • Lack of social networks post-migration further hampers employment chances, creating barriers to recovery, especially after events like the COVID-19 pandemic.
Political Neglect and Lack of Targeted Policies:
  • Female migrants remain largely invisible in political discourse, resulting in a lack of targeted policies addressing their specific needs.
  • Existing policies, such as One Nation One ration card, e-Shram, and affordable rental housing complexes, predominantly cater to male migrant populations, ignoring the distinct challenges faced by women.
Steps for Improvement and Conclusion:
  • National surveys should incorporate more comprehensive socio-economic information about female migrants post-migration.
  • Inclusion of time-use data in surveys can provide insights into the activities of unemployed female migrants, helping design more effective policies.
  • A shift in the narrative and increased collection of female-specific data is crucial for raising awareness about the challenges faced by women in internal migration, prompting more informed and progressive policymaking.
PYQ: Discuss the changes in the trends of labour migration within and outside India in the last four decades. (UPSC CSE (M) GS-1 2015) (200 words/12.5m)
Practice Question:  How does the underrepresentation of women in internal migration impact India’s socio-economic policies? Discuss with examples. (150 words/10 m)
 

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