Unlike the popular perception that Mumbai is being overrun by people from outside the state, Census data shows the rate of migration of people born outside the state to the financial capital of the country has slowed down over the two decades after economic liberalisation.
As per the 1991 Census, 21.1 per cent of the city’s residents were born outside the state. The number increased to 26.4 per cent, as per Census 2001. The migration rate grew sluggishly at 27.66 per cent, as per the 2011 Census D1 appendix data that was released in July this year. While the enumeration of the 2011 Census was done between April 2010 and February 2011, the findings have been released in a gradual manner over the last decade.
Also, fewer youths from across the country were found heading to Mumbai to make a living. While the city’s population grew by 8.4 per cent from 1.19 crore to 1.29 crore between 2001 to 2011, the total number of people in the age group of 15-34 years who were born outside the state has seen a 0.57 per cent dip, falling from 13.97 lakh to 13.89 lakh.
Migration has been a historical process shaping the history of Mumbai, which began as a port city and found further sustenance with the proliferation of textile units in the 1900s. The city’s growth was fuelled by migrants, who in 1921, made up nearly 84 per cent of the city’s population. Most of the migrants hailed from the erstwhile Bombay Presidency and came from areas like Konkan, Western Maharashtra, parts of Gujarat and adjoining states like Goa.
These migrants helped Mumbai become a commercial and industrial centre. However, over the last 40 years, the gradual de-industrialization of Mumbai and the shutting down of its textile mills has led to a shift in migration.
The transformation of Mumbai from an industrial hub to a service industry hub changed the migration pattern from largely intra-state to inter-state, attracting a large number of cheap labourers from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. This had also led to the growth of regional nativism and an assertion of nativist agenda that has led to the spread and growth of political parties, like the Shiv Sena and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, who have often accused migrants of taking jobs away from locals.
“There is a definite slowdown in the number of out of state migrants that are coming to Mumbai. This is the case with all major old cities which have hit a point of saturation. Mumbai is no longer an industrial hub and unlike popular perception, it does not attract migrants like in the past. Migrants are now attracted to cities like Surat or Pune,” professor Ram Bhagat, head of the department of migration and urban studies of International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS) said.
Dwindling economic opportunities and the high cost of living in Mumbai are seen as major reasons why migrants are turning their backs on Mumbai, experts say. There is also a belief that several migrants, who come to Mumbai from outside the state, are forced to live outside it in its neighbouring districts, like Thane, due to the cities increasing cost of living.
However, Census data shows rate of migration has slow down even in Thane district. In 1991, those who were born outside Maharashtra made up only 10.21 per cent of Thane’s population. The number doubled to 21.46 per cent in 2001 and went up marginally to 22.81 per cent in 2011.
In Pune, too, the share of migrants from outside the state, which zoomed from 3.74 per cent in 1991 to 7.90 per cent in 2001, has slowed down to 10.05 per cent in 2011.
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