December 2018

Mitigating the issues of migration

The migration programmes of the Trusts are providing solutions to many who have migrated to improve their quality of life

Senapaty ensuring a prosperous future for his family with his farm’s produce

In the last few decades, migration has seen an upswing  in India. An increasing number of people  migrate in search of economic opportunities with a dream of improving their quality of life. The trend has led to a rise in the number of urban poor, and resulted in migrants becoming vulnerable to several residential, occupational and social issues. The Trusts have begun focusing on migration as an issue within the larger canvas of urban poverty.

The Trusts’ vision is to support the migrants and their families by sustainable and scalable solutions to achieve largescale impact. Their destination migration programmes tackle the root cause of occupational vulnerabilities of seasonal migrants through on-site service delivery at brick kilns and construction sites, as these industries exhibit the largest influx of migrant workers. As part of the programme, crèches and bridge schools for children of migrant workers, and multi-service delivery centres, have been operationalised in various brick kiln clusters.

Migrant Resource Centres are empowering migrants and providing support when they need it the most
Senapaty’s story is a good example of success and inspiration to the community around him. Senapaty Bag is a 40-year-old resident of Tughlapadar village of Komna block in Nuapada district of Odisha. He aspired to give his family a better life, and therefore migrated to Hyderabad to work at a brick kiln. Due to his increasing family responsibilities and indebtedness, he continued to migrate every year. Consequently, his health began to deteriorate and he could hardly save enough for the future. Recalling his agony, Senapaty shares, “I felt my ineptness was increasing; my strength to face life was diminishing; with limited knowledge and skills, I could only earn as a labourer to support my family.”

One day Senapaty's friend told him about the agriculture training provided to 30 individuals  by Tata Trusts in his area. Senapaty participated in the training and tried to use the knowledge on the field to see its effectiveness. “The exposure changed my life,” says Senapaty. “I learned the best practices of vegetable cultivation and put all my efforts to practise this learning on my land.” The Trusts provided regular technical support for smoother execution. In just three months of the production cycle, Senapaty could realise a total sales of Rs50,000 from half an acre of land. He is one of the 120 farmers who adopted farming and courageously fought against their desire to migrate under distress.

By 2011, the Trusts’ migration programme had grown to comprise 34 partners across 9 states and impacted over 300,000 migrants. The strategic focus of the programmes in the current phase (2016-19) is on creating a significant impact in the quality of life of 2 million migrants and their families. The Trusts also aim at making the Migrant Resource Centres (MRC, called Apna Sewa Kendras in few states) self-reliant service delivery centres. The services include linkages to government entitlements and schemes, legal assistance in wage and worksite accident-related cases, and linkages to skill training, employment opportunities and banking services. The legal mediation service of MRC has reached out to more than 10,000 individual migrant workers and has helped more than 250 migrants in resolving cases and empowering them.

A case in point is of a group of 35 migrant workers from Masuda block of Ajmer district in Rajasthan who worked on laying a pipeline. The issue of non-payment of wages to these workers arose after the unfortunate and sudden death of a contractor who had employed these workers. While the pleas of the workers fell on deaf ears of the employer, the local lawyers demanded hefty commission. One of the affected workers was incidentally an active MRC member, who along with his group approached MRC for help. The MRC proactively took up the case with the employer and eventually the employer agreed to pay the workers’ wages amounting to a sum of Rs13 lakh. This way, MRCs are helping migrant workers across five districts of Rajasthan to access mediation support to retrieve their hard-earned wages lost in disputes to politically and economically powerful employers.