Justice, Migration, Agriculture, and Sustainability

Justice, Migration, Agriculture, and Sustainability

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4995-8.ch004
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In developing countries, agrarian crisis and lack of adequate earning from agriculture has often led to migration of labourers from villages to city. Often, these migrant workers have been absorbed in the construction and other informal sector segments of the city as daily wage labourers. Absence of any income earning opportunity from agriculture has forced these workers to move towards the city life. Such a decision has often made the migrant worker sacrifice the happiness of staying close to the family in the village. Rather, the worker has charted out the risk of coming to city with the hope of earning, sending money to home, and creating a sustainable life style for himself/herself and the family back at home. From a justice point of view, a question can be raised about which situation is better for the migrant worker: staying in a village at the backdrop of an agrarian crisis or moving out to the city, getting absorbed in the informal segment, earning money, and undergoing deprivation in the city. All these aspects impact the social, economic aspects of sustainability. In light of this, the chapter, raises these points and bridges a connection between justice, migration, agriculture, and sustainability.
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The closing scene of “Peepli Live” motion picture by Aamir Khan Productions left lot of unanswered questions for all of working on the areas of sustainability science for addressing development issues. The black screen at the end of the film showed that according to Census 2001, some billion farmers have migrated from villages during 1991 – 2001. Immediately the question what spurred was under what set of conditions did these migrations happen in the villages of India.

In India, social structures, uneven developmental process, interregional, socio economic disparaties has contributed to the migration. Rural to urban migration has been guided by high unemployment and underemployment in agriculture (Oberai, 1981)

Development process of a country like India depends on the nature of interdependencies between food and labour market. Promotion of non-farm employment, agricultural growth, self reliant employment and social development is required for growth and development in rural areas (Radhakrishna, 2002). This is because a labour intensive growth in rural areas can help the farming communities in their development process.

Non trickling down of the fruits of growth within the developmental process of rural farming communities of India has also been a reason towards migration. Farmers from far remote villages in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Orissa have lost employment in their own farmlands and have travelled to work as casual labours in projects dealing with irrigation projects, commercial and residential complexes, road construction in the city. However,the context of migration from rural areas of Bihar to city life has not been so straight forward. There are various layers of factors that are linked with each other and guiding the decision of migration of a villager to the city.

Migration patterns within India show that in the past five years apart from people of rural areas who are extremely poor and the ones who are businessmen, landowners in villages, most of the others from medium income class and forward castes have migrated to the city. Upper castes from villages have made a permanent migration whereas most of the migrants have made a migration for 3 – 9 months. Within the low cast migrants from the villages to the city, SCs and EBCs2 have been engaged in both short and long distance migration. But most of these SC, EBC and backward caste migrants have been absorbed in lowest paid jobs. In Bihar, these backward castes are being segmented into – a) Annexure 1 or Extremely Backward Castes (EBC) and Annexure 2 or Other Backward Classes (OBC). EBC consists of 109 groups and comprise of 32% of the population. OBCs include 32 groups and comprise of 20% of the population. This population also include Yadavs, Kurmis, Banias, Koeri. As per the Census 2001 report, Bihar includes Backward Caste Muslims which is of 13 million amongst the 83 million Muslim population of Bihar.

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