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Will Gujarat remain favorite for inter-state migrants?

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    Bengaluru, Oct 11: Six years after Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray targeted Bihari migrants based on regional identity, a similar hate campaign has been unleashed against north Indian migrant labourers in Gujarat.

    Migrant workers wait to board a train out of Gujarat in view of protests and violence breaking out over the alleged rape of a 14-month-old girl, in Ahmedabad, Tuesday, Oct 9, 2018. PTI file photo

    Since the child's rape in a village in Sabarkantha district on September 28 and the arrest of a labourer hailing from Bihar for the crime, six districts, most of them in north Gujarat, have seen sporadic incidents of violence against Hindi-speaking people.

    Meanwhile, Shyam Singh Thakur, president of the Uttar Bhartiya Vikas Parishad, an outfit of north Indians in Gujarat, said more than 60,000 Hindi-speaking migrant labourers have fled the state so far.

    In a research article published by Anand S. Sugandhe (Gujarat Becoming New Destination For Inter-State Migrants, 2017), total in-migration in Gujarat has recorded 20,77,800 in 2007-08, it was 18,09,800 in 1999-2000. It is increased by 2,68,000 from 2000 to 2008. Before that, it was 14,65,214 in 1991. Gujarat is changing the destination of interstate migrants in India. The state has received a large number of migrants in urban as well as in rural area. Nature of interstate migration indicates that the state of Gujarat is the most favourable destination for interstate migrants. The net migration rate has been increased gradually in terms of Gujarat state.

    However, the attack on migrant labourers will reverse the inter-state migration without a timely political intervention. Hailed as a favourite destination of migrant labourers, the number of exodus doesn't look promising during the festive season of Dussehra and Diwali.

    The Hindustan Times reported the actual loss to production in Gujarat due to the exodus. Quoting the Industry associations in Gujarat, HT reported that the exodus of migrant labourers, mainly from north Gujarat's industrial belt, may affect 15% to 20% of the production in the crucial pre-Diwali period. Of the 10 million migrant labourers in Gujarat, 60-70% are from Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar and West Bengal, making them the backbone of Gujarat industries. Therefore, political mischievousness over a rape incident even after the arrest of culprit will spell doom for the economy.

    Hence, we have to see whether Congress MLA Alpesh Thakor's 'Sadbhavna Upavas' (goodwill fast) will win the confidence of migrants.

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