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Draft National Migrant Policy

Recently, NITI Aayog, along with a working subgroup of officials and members of civil society, Draft National Migrant Policy...

Why in News?

Recently, NITI Aayog, along with a working subgroup of officials and members of civil society, has prepared a draft National Migrant Labour policy.

  • Earlier in December 2020, the Indian government decided to create a database of migrant workers, including workers in the informal economy.

Highlights of the Draft- key Recommendations:

  • Facilitate Migration: Migration should be acknowledged as an integral part of development, and government policies should not hinder but seek to facilitate internal migration.
  • Increase Wages: The draft asks source states to raise minimum wages to bring major shifts in local livelihood of tribals which may result in stemming migration to some extent.
  • A central database should be created to help employers “fill the gap between demand and supply” and ensure “maximum benefit of social welfare schemes”.
  • Grievance Handling Cells: 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.
  • It also proposes a new National Migration Policy and the formation of a special unit within the Ministry of Labour and Employment to work closely with other ministries

Ways to stem migration:

  • Even as it underlines the key role of migration in development, the draft recommends steps to stem migration; this is an important difference with the 2017 report.
  • The draft asks source states to raise minimum wages to bring major shifts in local livelihood of tribal (that) may result in stemming migration to some extent.
  • The absence of community building organizations (CBO) and administrative staff in the source states has hindered access to development programmes, pushing tribal towards migration, the draft says.
  • The “long term plan” for CBOs and panchayats should be to alleviate distress migration policy initiatives by aiming for a more pro-poor development strategy in the sending areas…that can strengthen the livelihood base in these areas.

The 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.
  • Both documents see limited merit in Census data that comes only once a decade.
  • The 2017 report called on the Registrar General of India to release migration data no more than a year after the initial tabulation, and to include sub-district level, village level, and caste data. It also asked the National Sample Survey Office to include questions related to migration in the periodic labor force survey, and to carry out a separate survey on migration.


  • Coordination among different ministries and department: The policy seeks to converge the various issues faced by migrant labourers in accessing welfare services like education, health, housing and social security provisions. It provides for a single agency under the Ministry of Labour and Employment, which is tasked to coordinate with the other ministries and departments, to improve the accessibility of the above-mentioned services for the labourers.
  • Establishing Institutions and mechanisms: The Policy seeks to establish the mechanisms to facilitate the migrant labourers and workers in need, in the form of Migration Resource Centers in high migration zones, a national labour Helpline and inter-state migration management bodies.
  • Rights-based Approach: It seeks to move away from the culture of handouts, cash transfers and quotas to a rights-based approach while developing the natural ability of an individual and recognizing her true potential. It seeks out to remove restrictions on the true agency of the individual by recognizing them as the agents who have the capability to visualize and improve their own future.
  • Improvement in Data: The policy lays down the importance of accuracy and comprehensiveness in data collection as the foundation for the provision of the services to the intended beneficiary. Data is a critical input, for the determination of the outlay and measuring the performance of the government steps by establishing the expected outcomes.

Way Forward:

  • Need to include ‘Invisible Workers’: The International Labour Organization (ILO) has underlined the importance of explicitly covering the domestic workers under the scope of the policy, lest they fall through the gaps in the policy. The problem with domestic workers is multi-dimensional, including the inability of the government to determine the exact number of such workers, with estimates varying between 25 lakhs to 9 Crores. It is to be noted that India has not ratified the ILO’s Domestic Workers Convention, 2011.
  • Better Implementation: The issue with migrant labourers is not the lack of laws but the lax implementation of the welfare programmes, which has been plaguing the government schemes in recent times. This has led to various issues like mistargeting the benefits, lack of knowledge regarding the schemes, issues of accessibility and other such irregularities.
  • Middlemen: The policy establishes the private contractors and recruitment agencies as exploitative agencies, who lure unsuspecting tribals and later abuse them by unfair profiteering. However, this is uncalled for as such cases are exceptions and without such middlemen, it will be difficult for the migrants to find remunerative employment and bridge the language and cultural divide which exists between the source and destination.
  • Agency: By intending to stem migration, the policy is labelling the migrants as gullible, ignorant people who are unable to determine their own interest. Instead, the need is to recognize them as capable individuals with an independent agency, who can act in their self-interest. The policy should seek to provide them with financial services, skill development and political education, to facilitate them in improving their social status.


  • The policy is a step in the right direction. It recognizes the individual’s potential and establishes her control over her life. It also seeks to establish mechanisms to reduce stress and help inter-state migrants in situations of duress.
  • The issue with the policy is not of intent, but of implementation. The onus now falls on the government as any policy is as good as the authority which seeks to enforce it.

MCQs about Draft National Migrant Policy

Question 1: What is the primary focus of the draft National Migrant Labour policy prepared by NITI Aayog?

A) Increasing restrictions on internal migration.

B) Discouraging all forms of migration.

C) Facilitating and improving conditions for internal migration.

D) Promoting migration exclusively for urban areas.

Question 2: What significant change does the draft policy recommend regarding migration and development?

A) Migration should be limited to urban areas only.

B) Migration should be discouraged to protect local livelihoods.

C) Migration should be acknowledged as integral to development and facilitated.

D) Migration should be strictly regulated by the government.

Question 3: What is the purpose of establishing a central database according to the draft policy?

A) To track and restrict the movement of migrant workers.

B) To facilitate social welfare schemes for employers.

C) To bridge the gap between demand and supply of labor.

D) To ensure maximum benefits of social welfare schemes and aid employers in finding workers.

Question 4: Which mechanism is proposed by the draft policy to handle grievances related to migrant workers?

A) National Legal Services Authority (NALSA)

B) Ministry of Education

C) Ministry of Transportation

D) Ministry of Agriculture

Question 5: What is the main concern raised regarding the implementation of the policy?

A) Lack of intent to help migrant workers.

B) Inability to control migrant laborers.

C) Lack of coordination among different ministries.

D) Implementation challenges despite good intentions.

Read also:- International Labour Day

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