Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Elections-Who cares for the migrant?

Umi Daniel

The elections are round the corner and another opportunity for the people of India to show their might through their votes. This is the time when poor and marginalized people of this country feel the real and equal sense of citizenship to choose their representative and parties who are going rule them for another five years.

The migrant from western Orissa or seasonal migrant from any of the poorest regions includes dalits, tribal and other marginalized communities of India will be again denied of their citizenship rights to cast their valuable votes for the new government who will be carrying out programme and policies for their development. In a country where distress migration is driving people out to alien destinations, will they be ever participating in any form of the democratic governance process? For instance, the two lakh migrant from western Orissa and more than four lakh Ganjam migrant will be completely away from the election in their state and ignored about the political situations unfolding in their native land. When the migrants come home during June, the election results will be out and they will be imposed a leader to whom they have never elected or preferred. Who is responsible for this, the poverty which drives them out or the policy which never empowered them to vote? Successive governments have never bothered about these people during important events such as Panchayat, assembly, union elections, census, BPL surveys or simply participating in gram Sabha. Moreover, the government have never even tried to make legislation as to how these lesser know citizens will participate in the democratic processes.

I fee, this is high time that the election commission, political parties, civil society and the policy makers think about this and facilitate a meaningful process for participation of migrants in the democratic governance process like elections and other important events.


  1. Dear Mr. Daniel,

    At the very outset, I congratulate you for launching such an important blog about Orissa Migration. I have gone through the articles thoroughly. Your blog deals with most crucial issues, which are grossly neglected by the mainstream media.

    Undeniably, the migrants in general and Oriya migrants in particular are deprived of from fundamental rights. When the sun goes down, nearly six lakh migrants in our state, most whom as you mentioned are dalits, tribal and other marginalized communities struggle for basic human needs. Morning brings them despair. No one cares for them.

    Everyone is enthusiastic to exercise his/her franchise power to elect a new government both at the state and centre. Ironically, the migrants are not in the voting list. It is really a slap to India’s long cherished democratic tradition.

    Please keep up posting stories regularly. If possible send me a mail at


  2. Dear Mr. Sahoo,

    thanks you for your valuable comment on the Orissa migration. The total migrant from Orissa will be morethan 10 lakh and unfortunately not even surveyed under the Census.

    My effort is to highlight their issues and bring some attention to their silet suffering, denials and ensure human rights are respected, fullfilled and protected by the state at sources and destination.

    Please keep visiting the blog and give your comments.

  3. Dear Daniel da,

    Thanks for nice posting on issues of migrant workers and their democratic right to vote...They have been not only denied of their right to vote but also denied all and every things they are entitled for!!! If lakhs of people are migrating (...seasonal and round the year)to other states...what about the PDS rice, ration, supplementary nutrition food under ICDS,Mid-day meal, immunization of pregnant women and children of these migrant people???? Who is responsible for denial and snatching all these entitlement and rights???

  4. Thanks. Yes, you have raised a very important point. Lakhs of people who are away from their homes tend to lose their access and control over over various welfare schemes and productive assets. While migrants are contributing hugely to the national economy, the same people are denied of their citizenship rights. What a pity?

    Thanks again for the valuable comments.

  5. Dear Danial Sir,

    The Migration is very much painful in our western orissa . Due to migration the people are deprived of of their basic rights i.e food,shalter,work , Right to vote and education . This is to my view they are treating as secondary citizenship in the democracy .Hence issue of migration to be taken up critically in the area.

  6. Dear Mukunda,

    thanks for your valuable insight on migration. Yes, migrants are treated as second grad citizens and deprived of their basic rights and entitlements. And yes, migration should be considered as a key area of intervention for prevention of distress and protection of labour rights and social security.

  7. Dear Mr. Daniel,

    Came across your blog while searching for data on migrants from Ganjam, working in Suarat. It is very useful and thought provocative. Is there any statistics available on migrants from Orissa?

    I look forward to your response.

    Thanks and regards,


  8. Thanks Mamata. I am really sorry to miss your comments. I don't think there is any authentic data is availble on migration in Orissa or else where in the country. This is because, the district labour office hardly register any migrants or the agents which is mandatory under the Inter-State migrant workman Act. We only have some studies done by various groups which we refer in my article.