1st Edition

Migrants, Mobility and Citizenship in India

Edited By Ashwani Kumar, R. B. Bhagat Copyright 2021
    256 Pages 12 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge India

    256 Pages 12 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge India

    256 Pages 12 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge India

    This book reconceptualizes migration studies in India and brings back the idea of citizenship to the center of the contested relationship between the state and internal migrants in the country. It interrogates the multiple vulnerabilities of disenfranchised internal migrants as evidenced in the mass exodus of migrants during the COVID-19 crisis. Challenging dominant economic and demographic theories of mobility and relying on a wide range of innovative heterodox methodologies, this volume points to the possibility of reimagining migrants as ‘citizens’.  

    The volume discusses various facets of internal migration such as the roles of gender, ethnicity, caste, electoral participation of the internal migrants, livelihood diversification, struggle for settlement, and politics of displacement, and highlights the case of temporary, seasonal, and circulatory migrants as the most exploited and invisible group among migrants. Presenting secondary and recent field data from across regions, including from the northeast, the book explores the processes under which people migrate and suggests ways for ameliorating the conditions of migrants through sustained civic and political action.

    This book will be essential for scholars and researchers of migration studies, politics, governance, development studies, public policy, sociology, and gender studies as well as policymakers, government bodies, civil society, and interested general readers.  

    Foreword by Nasim Zaidi

    Preface and Acknowledgements

    1. Internal Migration and Citizenship in India: An Emerging Perspective

    R.B. Bhagat and Ashwani Kumar


    Part I. Migrants and Citizenship

    2. Why Do Migrants Remain Excluded in Present-Day India and What Should We Do About it?

    Priya Deshingkar

    3. Migration and Right to the City: A Gender Perspective

    R.B. Bhagat


    Part II. Migrants and Electoral Politics

    4. Migration and Inclusive Elections

    Ashwani Kumar and Shashwat Dhar

    5. Electoral Participation in India’s Metropolitan Cities

    Sanjay Kumar and Souradeep Banerjee

    6. Inclusive Exclusions: Citizenship Practices and Circular Migrants in India after 1989

    Indrajit Roy

    7. Indigene, Outsider and the Citizen: Politics of Migration in Assam

    Smitana Saikia and Ravindra Chowdhary

    8. Migrant Voters and Political Parties: Notes on an Analytical Framework

    E. Sridharan


    Part III. Migrants, Development and Social Change

    9. Livelihood Diversification and Out-migration: An Appraisal of Rural Bihar

    Nandan Kumar and R.B. Bhagat

    10. Domestic Migration and Multiple Deprivations: Cycle Rickshaw-Pullers in Delhi

    Naresh Kumar

    11. Unpacking Women’s Associational Migration in India: Theory and Evidence

    Sandhya Iyer and Ananya Chakraborty

    12. Role of Caste in Migration: Some Observations from Beed District, Maharashtra

    Kalyani Vartak

    13. Struggle for Settlement: The Case of Nomadic Dombari Community in Aurangabad District, Maharashtra

    Pravin Shankarrao Khandagale

    14. Migration and the Politics of Citizenship: An Ethnography at the Borderlands of Rajasthan

    Srishtee Sethi


    Epilogue: Migrants, Memories and Mythologies

    Ashwani Kumar




    Ashwani Kumar is Professor and Senior Policy Researcher in the School of Development Studies at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, India.

    R. B. Bhagat is Professor and Head in the Department of Migration and Urban Studies at the International Institute for Population Sciences, Mumbai, India.

    ‘On the whole, compared to international migration, scholarship on internal migration has been quite scant. After Myron Weiner's seminal Sons of the Soil, very little has been written on migration within India. Yet, the need for understanding migrants better is only too obvious, especially after we watched millions of Indian workers walking miles and miles to reach home after the lockdown induced by Covid-19. The essays collected in this volume cover wide-ranging aspects of this inadequately understood, but vital, segment of Indian society.  Hugely enlightening!’


    Ashutosh Varshney, Director, Center for Contemporary South Asia; Sol Goldman Professor of International Studies and the Social Sciences; Professor of Political Science, Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, Brown University, USA



    ‘The most significant scholarly intervention on India's 'invisible' migrant workers who have long been ignored in policy corridors and our public debates. By locating the debates on internal migration firmly within the discourse of citizenship, this book challenges current scholarly debates and policy prescriptions, to recognize that the 'migrant' issue is inextricably linked to the realisation of full, substantive citizenship rights. This is the framework that should define India's policy responses to the 'migrant crisis' made visible through the horrors of the Covid-19 induced lockdown. A must-read for scholars, policymakers, and citizens.’


    Yamini Aiyar, President and Chief Executive, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, India



    ‘Undeniably, migrant workers are the most vulnerable citizens of India. The editors of this meticulously researched and much-needed volume bring back the issue of portability of voting rights for migrants to the heart of citizenship debates in India. An illuminating and invaluable guide to policymakers!’


    Neera Chandhoke, political theorist and former Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Delhi, India 



    ‘The importance of deepening our understanding of India’s migrant communities has been made all too clear by recent events, including the coronavirus pandemic. This timely volume by a diverse array of established and new voices helps build towards such an understanding. The pieces in this volume make clear the multiple challenges of inclusion that migrant communities face, and convey the urgency with which we must meet these challenges.’


    Tariq Thachil, Director, Center for Advanced Study of India (CASI); Associate Professor of Political Science, Madan Lal Sobti Associate Professor for the Study of Contemporary India, University of Pennsylvania, USA