Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Migrant Population in Mumbai

MNS chief Raj Thackeray has been saying that migrants from the cow belt are swamping Mumbai, but analysis of a five-year data on the migration pattern reveals that an equal number of migrants have been coming into the city from within Maharashtra.

The study conducted by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) showed that in a five-year period between 1995 and 2000, around 8.6 lakh migrants came to Mumbai. The study was based on the 2001 census data, which put Mumbais population at 12 million.

Of these 12 million, 3.2 lakh had migrated from north Indian states such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Jammu & Kashmir. Migrants from Maharashtra to Mumbai numbered 2.4 lakh. Also, 1.2 lakh south Indians migrated to Mumbai in the same five-year period.

"This data explodes the myth that north Indian migrants are overcrowding Mumbai. While the number of people who come from the southern states have decreased, there is a large number of migrants coming to Mumbai from rural Maharashtra in search of employment,'' said professor D P Singh of TISS, who conducted the study.

Singh said political parties like the MNS should realise that many migrants come to Mumbai not to usurp the employment opportunities of the locals. Many come to stay with their families who already have jobs, while others come to set up small businesses, which add to the citys GDP, he explained.

Singh cited the example of the huge migrant Gujarati population, which set up businesses and commercial establishments in Zaveri Bazaar and Dadar at the beginning of last century.

"These shops and commercial establishments have employed lakhs of people. The migrants have not taken away employment but provided job opportunities to the locals,'' he added.

A large chunk of the migrants who came from north Indian states from remote villages provided support to essential services in the city, be it supplying milk, construction work, carpentry service, taxi service or even working as security guards.

"These jobs are there on the platter for everyone and there is no question of taking away these jobs from the locals. Talent and will to work hard is all that matters,'' said Singh.

Demographers point out that migration is the root of all cultural and economic progress. Migration integrates people from different cultures and, in turn, makes them more secular and broad-minded, which is essential for the progress of any country, Singh said.

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