Chandigarh-based Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial development (CRRID) and Institut National d’Etudes Demographiques (INED), Paris collaborated to bring out a definitive study on the dynamics of international migration from Punjab. The authors of the study, Dr A K Nanda and Jacques Veron tell Man Aman Singh Chhina that the study will help in formulation of policies and programmes by state government. Excerpts:
What was the need for this survey?
There has been a lot of talk around the migration process from Punjab and the consequences of it. But there was no information that could be used to get an accurate picture. Migration is also linked with development of the state and this relation exists in a complex way because migration has positive as well as negative effects. Our sample covers 8,214 households in rural and urban Punjab covering 133 villages and 70 towns.
How is this study going to help Punjab?
This study has created a very strong database. It will help in policy formation and programmes. Kerala, which too has a large number of people working abroad, has a much more reliable database. There the government is much more oriented towards it.
How does this help France?
In INED, we focus on developing international relationships. We are also interested in population studies and migration too is a major subject for us. INED decided to support this survey because we think it is important to support data collection on international level. Normally, institutes do not support data collection and concentrate on dissemination of data alone because collecting data is a hard job. The benefit of this report is indirect and it will help increase our expertise in this field.
What have been the consequences of migration for Punjab?
The consequences are mixed. The remittance is low. The reason is that the Punjabi who goes abroad wants to settle down in Canada and Europe and take the family there. Migration has also led to improvement in education and health standards. It has affected the consumption pattern and has helped the economy of Punjab besides its impact on the politics of the state. The negative is that the use of remittance is for consumption only and not for major projects. You will find the houses of NRIs locked in the villages with no one living there.
The data used in the survey is from 2010. Surely there have been some changes in migratory pattern?
Certainly. Migration is a very dynamic process. When something like a visa rule change takes place, the pattern of migration also changes.The Gulf is now a centre of instability. It has discouraged people but in a sense it has encouraged them too. They would like to go to such places because they get more money under risky conditions. But on larger scale, opportunity has certainly decreased. We expect that when there will be peace and reconstruction, things will improve.
What are your findings on marriage for migration?
There is considerable data in this study on international marriage. By which we mean where either spouse is foreigner or NRI. We find that Punjab has higher percentage of foreign marriages as compared to the rest of India. But exact data on foreign marriages is not available in India. In Punjab, out of total marriages, two per cent are with foreigners or NRI but this figure is much higher for women than for men.