- GS-1: Urbanization, their problems and their remedies.
- GS-2: Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections
Draft National Policy On Migrant Workers
Context: Spurred by the exodus of 10 million migrants (as per government estimates) from big cities during the Covid-19 lockdown, NITI Aayog, along with a working subgroup of officials and members of civil society, has prepared a draft national migrant labour policy.
Key Features of Draft Policy
- Rights Based Approach: The policy rejects a handout approach, opting instead for a rights-based framework The draft describes two approaches to policy design: one focussed on cash transfers, special quotas, and reservations and the other which enhances the agency and capability of the community and thereby remove aspects that come in the way of an individual’s own natural ability to thrive
- Acknowledgement: Migration should be acknowledged as an integral part of development and government policies should not hinder but seek to facilitate internal migration.
- Policy should have Long Term Goal: The goal according to draft policy should not be to provide temporary or permanent economic or social aids that is rather limited approach, but goal should be on a more permanent basis
- Legislation: The NITI Aayog’s policy draft mentions that the Ministry of Labour and Employment should amend The Inter State Migrant Workers Act, 1979 for “effective utilisation to protect migrants”.
- Need for Effective Coordination: It identifies the Ministry of Labour and Employment as the nodal Ministry for coordination between various agencies/ department and implementation of policies related to Migrants.
- Institutional Mechanism through Special Unit: The draft suggests to create a special unit under Labour Ministry to help converge the activities of other Ministries. This unit would manage migration resource centres in high migration zones, a national labour Helpline, links of worker households to government schemes, and inter-state migration management bodies.
- Inter-State Coordination: On the inter-state migration management bodies, it says that labour departments of source and destination states along major migration corridors, should work together through the migrant worker cells. Labour officers from source states can be deputed to destinations – e.g., Bihar’s experiment to have a joint labour commissioner at Bihar Bhavan in New Delhi.
- Enhanced Role of Local Bodies: Policies should “promote the role of panchayats to aid migrant workers” and integrate urban and rural policies to improve the conditions of migration. Panchayats should maintain a database of migrant workers, issue identity cards and pass books, and provide “migration management and governance” through training, placement, and social-security benefit assurance
- Ways to stem migration: Even as it underlines the key role of migration in development, the draft recommends steps to stem migration. The draft asks source states to raise minimum wages to “bring major shift in local livelihood of tribal that may result in stemming migration to some extent”.
- Importance of Data: The draft calls for a central database to help employers “fill the gap between demand and supply” and ensure “maximum benefit of social welfare schemes”. It asks the Ministries and the Census office to be consistent with the definitions of migrants and subpopulations, capture seasonal and circular migrants, and incorporate migrant-specific variables in existing surveys.
- Education for Migrant Children: The Ministry of Education should take measures under the Right to Education Act to mainstream migrant children’s education, to map migrant children, and to provide local-language teachers in migrant destinations.
- Grievance Redressal: The National Legal Services authority (NALSA) and Ministry of Labour should set up grievance handling cells and fast track legal responses for trafficking, minimum wage violations, and workplace abuses and accidents for migrant workers.
Connecting the dots: