Census 2011 data on migration released last week show Maharashtra had more migrants from Madhya Pradesh than from Bihar, and Gujarat had almost double the number of migrants from Rajasthan than from Bihar.
Data from Delhi show only 2,321 persons declared Bangladesh as their last place of residence. Over 1.17 lakh said Pakistan — not surprising given the history of Partition.
The data come at a time when migration is a major phenomenon across the world, and “illegal Bangladeshis” is a hot-button political issue in India. The data are also very late — it’s almost time for Census 2021 — and do not reflect the current situation.
Over 45.58 crore Indians were found to be “migrants” for various reasons during the enumeration exercises of Census 2011. The previous Census (2001) had recorded the number of migrants at 31.45 crore — more than 30% lower than the 2011 figure.
According to the website of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India, “When a person is enumerated in Census at a different place than his/her place of birth, she/he is considered a ‘migrant’.” Migration data began to be collected with the Census of 1872, but was not very detailed until 1961. Changes introduced in 1961 continued until 2001; in the Census of 2011, a more detailed format for collecting information on migrants was adopted.
Marriage and employment are the major reasons for migration, Census data show. The bulk of the migration takes place within individual states — out of the total number of persons registered as “migrants” in the 2011 Census, only 11.91% (5.43 crore) had moved to one state from another, while nearly 39.57 crore had moved within their states.
Migration data to and from some major states are given in the table above. Some key highlights of the Census numbers:
* Of the 5.74 crore migrants in Maharashtra, 27.55 lakh reported their last place of residence to be Uttar Pradesh; 5.68 lakh said Bihar. Internal migration from within Maharashtra had the lion’s share of migrants: 4.79 crore.
* UP, from where people travel to all over India in search of work, itself was host to 5.65 crore migrants. As many as 5.20 crore were, however, internal migrants; among the 40.62 lakh from other Indian states, 10.73 lakh were from Bihar.
* The number of migrants in Punjab from other states was 24.88 lakh, a relatively large percentage of its total 1.37 crore migrant population. Of these, 6.50 lakh reported their previous residence to be in UP; 3.53 lakh said Bihar.
* Over 42% of the 39.16 lakh ‘outsiders’ (from other states) in Gujarat (out of the total migrant population of 2.69 crore) were made up by migrants from UP (9.29 lakh) and Rajasthan (7.47 lakh), the data show.
* In Assam, where illegal migrations from Bangladesh has long been an issue, Census 2011 recorded 64,117 people who said their last place of residence was in the neighbouring country. This was a little more than half of the total number of migrants (1,10,314) from outside India in the state. Among the 4.96 lakh migrants from other Indian states in Assam, those from Bihar had the largest stare (1.47 lakh, or nearly 30%).
* Migrants from Bihar were the largest group from other Indian states in West Bengal as well (11.04 lakh out of 23.81 lakh). Over 20 lakh declared that their last place of residence was outside India; nearly 19 lakh among them said Bangladesh.
* In Kerala, where Bihari migrants have recently been in the news, Census 2011 recorded only 9,904 migrants from Bihar. As many as 1.53 lakh declared their previous residence to have been outside India.
A file noting of the RGI accessed by The Indian Express under the RTI Act says the provisional migration data were released nearly three years ago “in view of the demands from some ministries and CEA (Chief Economic Adviser)”. The RGI began preparations for Census 2021 in December 2017, when it started gathering details of jurisdictional changes across the country. The actual enumeration will be carried out between February 9 and 28, 2021.
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