Migration from the rural region


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Migration from the rural region

  1. 1. Migration from the Rural Region Migration from the Rural Region: A Study from Bihar in India 1 Abstract Bihar presents a picture of the exemplary region, characterized by a pretty long history of distress as well as voluntary outmigration in India. The colonial forced migration had its own specific place in the demographic history of India during the nineteenth century. There had been a heavy exodus of Bihari labourers even during the post-colonial period of the second half of twentieth century. Punjab was the western El Dorado. It had the capacity to absorb the rural Bihari outmigrants. It was not only because of enhanced seasonal requirements of labour but also due to continuous out migration from Punjab itself towards other attractive destinations. The cumulative effect of these favourable situations had been witnessed in the form of improved bargaining position of the migrant labourers in Punjab in the seventies and eighties in twentieth century. Such a bargaining advantage did not exist at all in the semi-feudal backward agrarian region of Bihar. The steady flow of Bihari outmigrants to the destinations in rural Punjab indicated therefore the operations of not only considerable differentials in money wages but also in real wage earnings of rural labourers during seventies between the two regions. The pretty high labour earnings had been inducing the rural Bihari outmigrants to be ready to work at destination even in such odd jobs like crushing sugarcane, loading and unloading, and that too at a lower wage rate relative to that acceptable by the local workers in Punjab. In the light of the Rural Labour Enquiries data on wages, employment and unemployment, it was an established fact that nearly negligible differentials in the mandays of employment availability in the two states existed during seventies and eighties of twentieth century. The claim of the decennial Census Migration Tables of 1981 with regard to the employment being significant reason for outmigration was thus essentially ill-founded, misleading and erroneous. The earnings aspect had probably got subsumed in the Census category of employment. It was a fault to be rectified in the light of findings of both the Rural Labour Enquiries and microlevel researches. Key Words: rural labour, seasonal migration, permanent migration, inmigration, outmigration, Bihar, Punjab, wage, employment, earnings, colonialism, voluntary migration, distress migration, rural economy Background In the demographic history of Bihar region in India, the mobility of men and materials across spaces assumes an exemplary status. In the past, there existed all the qualitatively different kinds of migration such as the catastrophe mobility, forced political displacement and voluntary outflow of human labour across both short as well as long distanced geographic locations in and outside the boundary of country. There had been in existence both the It was originally published in the Journal of Assam University, vol.6, no.1, 2001, with an extended title and abstract. 1 Mahmood Ansari Page | 1
  2. 2. Migration from the Rural Region moments of slowly developing streams as well as periods of time characterized by the almost sudden, fast and large volume of streams of migration of the working population from Bihar to the neighboring eastern regions, and even the overseas. Features and patterns of migration set apart, it had acted in the past as a powerful demographic phenomenon, which at times brought large-scale change and shifts in the volume, composition and quality of population both at the origin as well as destination within short period of time. It is then quite normal that the Bihari migration study remained a central focus of theorization and historical analysis in the discipline of demography for a long time in India. In the theoretical literature, the migration study proper in general does necessarily belong to the domain of demography. The literature on studies of the colonial migration during nineteenth century, and the distress as well as voluntary innovation migration during twentieth century in Bihar did however establish that its origin had gone beyond the scope of demography and its impact beyond merely transforming the demographic face of the region. It had also been instrumental in catalyzing the process of social change and economic transformations at the origin of migrants — be that Saran in the north or Santhal Paragana and Chhotanagpur in the south of Bihar — as well as the destination areas of Assam, Bengal and overseas. Given the nature of such observed complexity and diversity associated with the analysis of history of migration and the effects of Bihari migration on society and economy, it had slowly but unfailingly acquired the status of a multi-disciplinary subject. In the inter-disciplinary perspective, the colonial mobility and post-Independence migration have been separated as historical-analytical exercise. The history of migration of Bihari population in the nineteenth and former half of twentieth centuries had been heavily influenced by the colonial policies of redistribution of labour across spaces, and therefore, largely the outcome of typical colonial maneuver of the recruitment agents and agencies. It needs to be contrasted both in terms of causation process as well as the characteristics, selectivity and pattern of Bihari outmigration with the post-Independence demographic regime of second half of the twentieth century. This often takes the Bihari migration analyst however into the domain of social and economic history discipline. In the gamut of broad literature, the descriptive study of characteristics, selectivity and patterns of Bihari outmigartion process pertaining to different periods of nineteenth and twentieth centuries has already been undertaken. The tradition of studying migration behaviour under such a descriptive framework was established in Britain by the cartographer and statistician, E.G.Ravenstein (1885, 1889). It has as well been a dominant feature of Bihari scholarship. In its long history, the Bihari migration has moreover given birth to the thesis of it being out and out a multi-faceted, multi-factorial and plural-causal phenomenon and process. The push and pull forces, acting upon the potential migrants and having roots in the institutional and structural set-up of the origin and destinations, have thus been enumerated by a couple of analysts to explain the mobility of Bihari population. The theoretical framework of push-pull paradigm of causal analysis developed by Everett Lee (1966) on the basis of empirical data as collected by Bogue (1959) has been widely used to advance the significant hypothesis on reasons for migration. The attempts have so far been incomplete, however. What exist in the literature in the name of explanations of migration in Bihar are therefore merely impressionistic descriptions. The causal analysis of outmigration has thus remained essentially a peripheral work. It is our intention to undertake such a work in systematic manner in this chapter. Mahmood Ansari Page | 2
  3. 3. Migration from the Rural Region Colonial Migration In the historical perspective, there existed an intricate network of migration streams in eastern India at the turn of nineteenth century. The migrants were selected from both tribal as well as general population. The movers originated from a number of districts of the region, and were destined to far-off British colonies. The people from Chhotanagpur Plateau moved to overseas British colonies in the 1870s. The indentured labour export which began with the recruitment of tribal people from south Bihar came to depend later on the forced migration of poor peasant and landless groups from the north Bihar and the eastern United Province as well (Prakash, 1992). Towards the end of century, the migration streams originated even from the districts of Balia, Ghazipur and Azamgarh in the United Province. The huge volume of international emigration to Mauritius, Trinidad, Namibia, British Guinea and other countries were recorded. The choice of leaving home, kins and kindred were forced upon under the indentured labour recruitment system of the colonial empire, to which Hugh Tinker (1974) rightly called ‘a new system of slavery’. It was substantial in volume during 1830-1870, and continued till 1920. People numbering around 16 million emigrated from Indian in the second half of nineteenth century; the majority of whom were from Bihar (Saha, 1970; Tinker, 1973; Omvedt, 1980). The colonial migration within the boundary of country was no less worthy of consideration; it was an equally substantial stream of the population flows. Bihar was a major labour supplying region, and Bengal rice fields, plantation belts and mines the attractive destinations of huge volume of migrants during the nineteenth century (Haan, 1985; Tinker, 1974). The rural labour from Bihar as well as Orissa and United Province migrated to rice and jute fields in the northern and western districts of Bengal. There were migrations to Burma as well. Bihar, Bengal and coastal Burma (Arakan) was therefore declared to have become joined together in a single system of interlocking labour mobility by the early twentieth century (Schendel and Faraizi, 1984; Young, 1986; Schendel, 1991). Assam also emerged as the destination of Bihari migrants towards the end of nineteenth century. The proportion of outmigrants in the total population of Chhotanagpur and Santhal Paragana districts in Bihar was 10.5 in 1891, and the same kept on increasing from 13.2 in 1901 to 13.8 in 1911. The proportion of migrants moving to Assam destinations alone was high enough to be 4.2 in 1901. Bengal remained however the favoured destination. In 1921, almost 126000 persons born in Ranchi (Bihar) were enumerated in Jalpaiguri (Bengal), and 750000 people born in Chhotanagpur (Bihar) were found outside the region in the tea districts of Rajshahi and Assam (Saha, 1970; Haan, 1985; Badgaiyan, 1986; Choudhury and Bhowmik, 1986). The Royal Commission of Labour in India estimated nearly 2 millions migrants in Bengal in 1921, and the majority of these in-migrants were from Bihar origin (RCLI, 1931). In 1931 and 1941, the Bihari migrants in Bengal originating mainly from the tribal districts of south Bihar numbered 158000 and 156000 respectively (Birbhum District Gazetteers, 1910 and 1951; Weiner, 1978). The colonial migration of Bihari population was in retrospect, first, a clear violation of the modernization paradigm based on the thesis of demographic transitions, advanced by Zelinsky (1971) and Skeldon (1990). The modernization paradigm insists upon identifying the population mobility as concomitant with the development of society and economy. In conflict with this thesis, the huge volume of migration did take place in Bihar without any trace whatsoever Mahmood Ansari Page | 3
  4. 4. Migration from the Rural Region version of modernity and development. Secondly, the colonialism per se was not the once and for all determinate cause of migration. There had been infiltrations of non-tribal people in the district of Chhotanagpur and Santhal Paragana from across the border of the state sicne the Moghul period (Das, 1983). The Biharis had been resorting to outmigration over long-distances in rural areas even in period earlier to the colonialism, and there were instances of huge volume of long distance rural migration even after the collapse of colonialism, that is, during second half of the twentieth century. There is thus nothing surprising in the proposition that Biharis would had moved during the nineteenth century even in the absence of colonial policies and maneuvers. In other words, some components of the migration from Bihar might therefore have been solely the result of voluntary choices of people –autonomous mobility. This is not however to deny the fact that the colonialism was of course highly instrumental in enhancing the volume of Bihari mobility to be much larger than otherwise, and determined the specific selectivity, pattern and direction of flows of tribal as well as non-tribal section of population. In comparative historical perspective, the instances of pre-modern mobility phenomenon had been found even in non-colonized societies elsewhere. The pre-modern Europe, for example, was not at all immobile. There were remarkably huge volume of short as well as long distanced seasonal and permanent internal migration within countries in the continent during seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The population registers of Sweden, Belgium and Italy, the migration registers of Germany, the parish records of England and France, and the urban records of the rest of Europe were testimony to it (Jackson and Moch, 1994). Major international emigration from the old world of Europe to the new world of America and Australia had been a characteristic feature of the second half of nineteenth and early twentieth century (Taft and Richard, 1955). In short, the migration in pre-modern societies, be that a colony or a free region, had been triggered by forces other than the colonialism and budding modernity. In case of Bihar, as in Europe, the mobility had been the outcome of regional economic dependencies which in turn was always fuelled by the regional unevenness of development. The phenomenon of outmigration from tribal areas of Bihar was, to a large extent, sustained by the debt-bondage, enslavement of households, land alienation and occurrence of famines in succession in the plateau (Singh, 1975; Mundle, 1979). The colonialism further aggravated the situation of regional dependencies, and thus, indirectly influenced the volume and direction of labour flows and population redistribution through migration. All said, a rigorous regional analysis of the causation process involved in the Bihari colonial migration, particularly one in the form of a mathematised and quantified model does not however exist in the literature till date. Contemporary Mobility The colonial migration and forced outflow of population of yesterdays set aside, it has yet been difficult to forecast the magnitude and direction, and project the impact of even contemporary voluntary mobility in Bihar during the second half of twentieth century. The mobility has not been as readily amenable to neat mathematical treatment as the fertility and mortality (other two vital determinants of the population transition) in the region. It is however not to deny the solid existence of a mathematised economic theory of migration in the literature elsewhere. There exists the popular model of aggregate dynamic equilibrium of labour demand and supply and the conjoint model of rural-urban migration advanced by Michel Todaro (1967, Mahmood Ansari Page | 4
  5. 5. Migration from the Rural Region 1969, and 1976). The model has not yet been adopted and used thoroughly in the case of Bihari migration. Be that as it may. The Bihari outmigration activity during the second half of twentieth century is no less historically interesting. The post-colonial migration during the postIndependence period in Bihar had been characterized by a few novel specificities; merely contrasting it with that of colonial times is thus not sufficient. The post-colonial migration in Bihar must be studied in a comparative regional framework. Under such a framework, it is worth consideration that, first, Bihar had remained a population losing state in India. Assam, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh had however been the states characterized by high in-migration rates in their rural locations. On the contrary, pretty high outmigration had been witnessed in the rural areas of both Bihar as well as Uttar Pradesh in the post-colonial demographic regime (Kshirsagar, 1973; Mukherjee and Banerjee, 1978). Second, the international emigration from Bihar had lost its momentum during the post-second World War era. It had been negligible. This was in sharp contrast to the features of migration in both Europe and Asia-Pacific region. In Europe, the inter-European mobility as well as migration from North Africa and Mediterranean countries to Europe increased vastly during the postsecond World Was era (Koemer, 1990). People numbering almost 100 million had been residing outside their nations of citizenship in the continent in the nineties (Razin and Sadka, 1995; Stanton-Russell and Teitelbaum, 1992). There had been startling growth in the intensity and volume of international emigrations in the Asia Pacific region also. The south Asian workers throughout the 1970s emigrated and South east and East Asian population throughout the 1980s drifted to principally oil-producing countries on a massive scale (Amjad, 1995). Third, Bihari outmigration in huge volume was mainly confined to internal boundaries of the country. In contrast to the rest of India, Bihari population had however maintained their history of mobility. This was in continuity to the mobility witnessed during first half of twentieth century. In the comparative framework, whereas the rural segment of the Indian population was declared to be immobile throughout the former half of twentieth century (Davis, 1951; Zachariah, 1961; Zachariah, 1956; Kshirsagar, 1973) and the proportion of migrants in the total population could improve from barely 3.6 in 1931 to merely 11.0 in 1961 in the country, the same was not true of Bihar mobility. Fourth, Bihari tradition of long distance outmigration had remained intact even in the postcolonial times. A lot of Munda and Oraon tribal were observed to be moving to new destinations in Madhya a Pradesh during 1961-71 (Chaudhury and Bhowmik, 1986). During 1971-81, the decennial Census enumerated nearly 13 lakh persons of Bihar origin in West Bengal (Haan, 1995). Most significant development was however the phenomenon of Bihar to Punjab outmigration since 1970s. In the mid-1990s, almost 7 to 8 lakhs Bihari were discovered to be working as seasonal migrants, apart from thousands of permanent Bihari migrants in Punjab (Singh, 1995). This tradition of long distance migration in Bihar contrasts with the experiences elsewhere in India and Asian countries. The Indian mobility in general, despite witnessing growth since 1960s afterwards, had remained confined to only the short-distances. The population of country was more mobile within and among districts. In 1981, almost 31.0 percent of all male migrants in India were bound to intra-districts rural-rural stream; in case of female migrants, the percentage of migrants moving within short distances in rural areas was as high as 56.0 (Premi. 1989). In quite a large number of countries in the Asia-Pacific as well, the short-distance migration had been a dominant stream. The rural migration stream over short distance was reportedly yet of domineering quantitative importance in Lao, Cambodia, Mahmood Ansari Page | 5
  6. 6. Migration from the Rural Region Myanmar and Vietnam till 1980s; the same was numerically significant in Indonesia till 1970 and in Malaysia till 1980 (Hugo, 1991; Skeldon, 1992; Costello, et al., 1987). Fifth, what was remarkable about the Bihari long-distance internal migration during the postcolonial period was that much of it originated from and was destined to the rural areas only. In both absolute magnitude and relative significance, the rural-rural stream of Bihari migration during the second half of twentieth century had been as predominant as in the colonial times. The history of rural outmigration remained intact; it was destined to Bengal and Assam in the colonial times, but Punjab and Haryana emerged as destinations in the post-colonial era. This was however very much the feature of whole eastern India. In eastern India, almost 82.0 percent of the migration was between rural areas only in the 1960s (Mahto, 1985). The rural migration had been more dominant a stream even in the north India; the south India was an exception (Gosal and Krishanan, 1975). In India as a whole, almost 74.0 percent of migration was destined to the rural area during 1950s (Gosal and Krishanan, 1975; Zachariah, 1960, 1965). The Census of 1961 enumerated 55.0 percent of all migrants in the country bound to the rural-rural stream only. In 1981, 45 percent of all male migrants and almost 73.0 percent of all female migrants remained bound to this steam in the country (Premi, 1989). In the Asia-Pacific, the rural migration and circulation and village-based movements were of high volume in Indonesia till 1970, in Malaysia and Thailand till 1980 and in Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Nepal, Srilanka, Pakistan and Afghanistan till late 1980s (Costello, et al., 1987; Hugo, 1991, 1992). The phenomenon of ever increasing frequency of temporary internal migration in rural China has been almost exemplary (Rowland, 1992; Young, 1992). Lastly, the urban migration was not at all a dominant feature of Bihari outmigration even in the post-independence period. The rural-urban and urban-urban streams were though increasing but not then significant. This was in line with the trend in India as a whole. The rate of urban growth, of which migration was the singular vital determinant, had by far been only moderate and secular throughout the last few decades of twentieth century in the country (Premi, 1989; Mathur, 1992). This was unlike what had been witnessed in the Asia-Pacific countries. The increased level of individual mobility, accelerated tempo of substantial permanent redistribution of population from rural to urban locations and enhanced pace of urbanization had emerged as significant parameters of charges in the course of last two decades of the twentieth century in the Asia-Pacific. There had been in action the process of remarkable convergence in the characteristics of rural and urban sections of population, and the traditional dichotomy between these two areas had been witnessed to be increasingly blurred-up in this duration (Hugo, 1992; Skeldon, 1992). In Europe, the urbanization fed by urban stream of internal and international migration had been a dominant feature till 1970 only. The international, inter-regional and intraregional mass migration underwent a transformation there after about 1970. The number of migrants decreased, and the rapid urbanization was increasingly replaced by the phenomena of sub-urbanization and counter-urbanization in the post-1970 era. There had ever been witnessed decentralization through urban-urban migration and return migration phenomena as well (Fielding, 1989). In contrast to Europe, the migration fostered by the urbanization acquired significance only since the early 1970s, and not immediately after the War (Goldstein and Goldstein, 1985) in the Asia-Pacific, and it has not yet become significant at all in India and its region, Bihar. In the present chapter, it would be beyond the scope and space to further delve deeper in a detailed manner into the theoretical nuances and analytical history of Bihari outmigration Mahmood Ansari Page | 6
  7. 7. Migration from the Rural Region phenomenon. In the background of the foregoing brief sketch, an attempt is thus made in the succeeding sections to put forward an intensive empirical analysis of the characteristics, selectivity and pattern of permanent as well as seasonal outmigration flow from rural Bihar to rural Punjab in India during seventies, eighties and mid-nineties in the twentieth century. The study is based on the analysis of aggregative data of the decennial Census Migration Tables of 1971 and 1981, and quantitative findings of the individual and institutional researchers in the field. This is elaborated in the first section. The Bihari outmigration is explained by arguing that the most important reason for regional migration lied there in the differentials in the earnings prospects offered by the regional labour markets in Bihar and Punjab. The comparative exercises on wage and employment conditions of two states is based on the aggregative data of Rural Labour Enquiries of 1963-64, 1974-75 and 1977, and micro scale individual researchers’ findings in the field. This is taken up in the second section. Neither the aggregative official data nor the micro-scale field survey findings indicated any considerable differences in the mandays of annual employment offered in Bihar and Punjab. In view of this fact, the Census claim that the majority of Bihari migrants moved to Punjab due to employment reason is found to be not well-founded. The Census claim was misleading and rather erroneous. This point is argued at the last. 1. Empirical Description of Regional Migration In the post-colonial period during second half of the twentieth century in India, there had been rigorous attempts to reduce and rather eliminate the regional unevenness which was a part of the drive for the economic development. There had been rather mixed success in this endeavour. Bihar, for example, could not break the shackle of semi-feudal agrarian system, and Punjab could transform its rural economy successfully into fast developing capitalist system. The decennial Census enumerates the whole population universe. It provides information on the lifetime (permanent) migrants in India. It furnishes information on the distribution of migrant population among districts of the state of destination as well. There exist two estimates of the lifetime migrants in the Census Migration Tables: one based on replies to the question on the place of birth, and another based on that of the place of last residence. It is only with the second estimate of lifetime migrants that the phenomena of step as well as return migrations are well captured, and thus, the possibility of underestimation of the volume of migrants is avoided. Moreover, it is only with regard to the second estimate that the Censuses of 1971 and 1981 attempted to further disaggregate the data to furnish tabulations on the age-distribution, marital status and duration-cohorts of residence of migrants at destination. In rural Punjab, there existed in these period two segments of Bihari rural migrants –permanent and seasonal. The Census of India fails however to capture the short-duration residing seasonal movers. A rich estimate and details of such migrants are nonetheless provided by the non-official findings of individual and institutional researchers in the survey-fields. The section is divided into three sub-sections. A very brief socio-economic profile of Bihar and Punjab regions in furnished in the first sub section so as to have an insight into the place of origin and destination of long-distance regional outmigrants in India. The volume, characteristics and selectivity of Bihari rural permanent migrants as enumerated on the basis of replies to the questions on the place of last residence and tabulated in the Census Migration Mahmood Ansari Page | 7
  8. 8. Migration from the Rural Region tables of 1971 and 1981 are analyzed in the second sub-section. The volume, characteristics, selectivity and pattern of Bihari seasonal migrants in Punjab during seventies, eighties and early nineties of the twentieth century are described on the basis of the micro-scale findings in the last part of this section. 1.1. Regions Profile Bihar is a region characterized by the semi-feudal relations of production. It still presents the picture of a densely populated ruralised agrarian economy. The perpetuation of informal bondage through debt obligation of petty peasant, tenant and landless agricultural labour has survived to be the characteristic feature of rural land market. The capital investments in agriculture have genuinely been constrained in the backdrop of historically given poor infrastructural setup. The distress sale of land has not been uncommon. The majority of small peasant and tenant households are quite often characterized by deficit nature, and the prevalence of petty production is widespread. In other words, the dominant mode of appropriation of surplus in the agricultural sector in Bihar has primarily been the sharecropping tenancy and usury mediated by interlocked non-market power relations (Prasad, 1974; Bhadhuri, 1973; Chandra, 1974; Prasad, 1979; RBI Report, 1984; Prasad, 1988). The per capita rural income in the state has already been the lowest in India. The widespread poverty has been an unmasked reality. The incidence of droughts and foods has been quite high. The fluctuation in agricultural productivity and production has been very large (RBI Report, 1984). The net irrigated area, cropping intensity and fertilizer consumption are all very low (CMIE), 1984; RBI Report, 1984). The share of male agricultural labourers of Bihar in total male agricultural labourers in India was the highest in 1981; the proportion of wage labourers in total male workforce and the proportion of casual wage labour in total male wage labour in the State were also considerably high in the late eighties (Census of India, 1981; National Sample Survey, 1977-78; Jose, 1988; Vaidyanathan, 1986), signifying the presence of a huge volume of pauperized section of rural population. The state comprises of two geographically delineated sub-regions divided by the Ganges River — north and south Bihar Gangetic plains, and Chhotanagpur Plateau hilly tracts. The Gangetic plains are among the most fertile tracts, whereas the fertility of Plateau hilly tracts is very low. The north Bihar plain is heavily populated region followed by south Bihar plain and then Chhotanagpur Plateau (Geddes, 1982). There has therefore been unevenness in economic development and retardation with the boundary of the state (Sharma, 1996). Punjab is a region however characterized by the capitalist structural transformation in agriculture. A section of peasantry having greater command over land and non-land resources has been transformed into capitalist farmers since the late sixties (Gill, 1988; Chowdhury and Dasgupta, 1985; Bhalla and Chadha, 1983). A high degree of concentration of the means of production has been accompanied by a high degree of differentiation within the cultivating population (Patnaik, 1987). The capitalist farmers often supplement their family labour necessarily with hired casual labour (Singh, 1983; Kumar, 1981). The pure tenancy has almost disappeared; the ownership cultivation has been the principal form of tenure (Chadha, 1986; Patnaik, 1986; Sidhu and Grewal, 1987). The strata among peasantry have solidified in the region of late. The state today is agriculturally a highly prosperous and commercially developed Mahmood Ansari Page | 8
  9. 9. Migration from the Rural Region region in India. Since mid-1960s, very rapid enhancement in agricultural production and productivity of food as well as non-food crops has been taking place (Bhalla and Chadha, 1983). A very high per capita rural income, considerable increase in the annual rate of food grains production and employment of large value of capital stock in agriculture are a few marked features of regional rural development in Punjab (CMIE, 1984; Alagh and Sharma, 1980; Chowdhury and Dasgupta, 1985). The region is administratively and spatially a small state (Chowdhury and Dasgupta, 1985). It is divided, agriculturally and geographically, into three subregions: central, middle and foothill Punjab. The new technology has been concentrated in the central part whereas the backward submontane foothill did not feel the full impact of the green revolution (Chadha, 1989). The improved agricultural technology has been moderate in application in the rest of areas. In the post-independence period, the formation and growth in the size of rural labour had accelerated in both the states. The economic conditions of rural labour had continuously deteriorated, and they increasingly joined the ranks of proletariat over the years. The process and rate of proletarianistion in the two states had however been different. The rate of proletarianisation in both Bihar and Punjab had though slowed down during 1971 and 1981; nonetheless, the increase was still higher in Punjab vis-à-vis Bihar, according to the Census. Whereas the eviction of tenants-at-will, pauperized peasants, ruined artisans and migrant labour flows were the sources of growth in rural Punjab as well as Bihar, the mechanisms at work pushing these categories to seek employment and earnings as agricultural labour were different. In Punjab, the mechanisms were successful land reforms and new technology accompanied by sharp rise in food grains price, dwindling scope of Self-employment, and rationalization of production process and modernization of rural society of artisans (Patnaik 1987; Bardhan, 1977; Gill, 1988). The inadequate growth in productivity and production in agriculture, failure of land reforms, deficit nature of indebted households and historically existing mass of landless agricultural labourers hit by recurrent natural calamities were the key features setting the dynamics in rural Bihar. The growth of rural population as well as rural workforce had been stable in Bihar during 1961 to 1981, according to the Census of India. The growth of rural workforce had been actually lagging behind the growth of rural population during 1961 to 1981. Consequently, the workerpopulation ration had also been declining in rural Bihar since 1960s. In Punjab, the trend was however different. The growth of rural workforce and rural population remained at par and proportionate to each other during 1961 to 1981. The percentile growth in both rural population and rural workforce between 1961 and 1971 had been rather higher than that observed between 1971 and 1981. The worker-population ration as such witnessed ups and downs within a very narrow margin. The numerical value of worker-population ration was however higher in rural Punjab in comparison to rural Bihar in both 1971 and 1981 Censal years. The growth of agricultural labourers had been slower during 1971 to 1981 than that observed during 1961 to 1971 in both the states. Nevertheless, rural Punjab witnessed still higher percentile increase in agricultural labourers than that in the workforce during both periods. The opposite was the case with rural Bihar. The proportion of agricultural labourer to the rural workforce was higher in Bihar in comparison to that in Punjab in all observation years of the Census. The gap in the proportion declined over the last two decades due to comparatively faster rise in the ration in Punjab. There were again sharp growth of wage labourers in both rural Bihar and Punjab since mid-1098s. Mahmood Ansari Page | 9
  10. 10. Migration from the Rural Region The National Sample Survey data available for 1971 and 1977 nonetheless did not contradict the Census findings pertaining to the period of 1971 to 1981. However, the National Sample Survey data shows a declining ration of wage labourers to the rural workforce in Punjab against the background of a still moderate increase of the same in Bihar during 1977 to 1983. The decline in Punjab in the ration may be explained by the increase in non-agricultural other-than-wage employment opportunities of late in Punjab (Vaidyanathan, 1986). Be that as it may. In short, Bihar and Punjab presented a picture of highly dissimilar regions of India, separated apart by the differences in features of the agrarian economic system and labour market situation. 1.2. Permanent Outmigration The eastern-western axis of north Indian regional migration of permanent nature during the sixties and seventies was very well captured by the decennial Census Migration Tables of 1971 and 1981. It was revealed that there existed in 1971 a positive net interchange of population in Bihar i.e. the difference between total lifetime outmigration from Bihar to Punjab and total lifetime inmigration in Bihar from Punjab. Bihar gained almost 19000 persons in this process of permanent mobility. It was simply because only 8005 persons could out-migrate from this state towards Punjab by March 1971 — the month and the year of Census operations in India. The rate of migration subsequently increased however within a decade, and there was witnessed a six-fold growth in the volume of outmigration from Bihar. In 1981 Census, Bihari population numbering 48061 persons were enumerated to have moved to Punjab destinations, and the net negative interchange of population in Bihar was certainly a phenomenon. What was though more remarkable was the observation that Bihar was specially losing the population to the long-distanced destinations in rural Punjab by the early eighties of twentieth century. The rural-rural stream of Bihar-Punjab outmigration constituted nearly 34.0 percent of the sum total of four streams in 1981. In this stream, there were merely 1110 persons enumerated by the Census agents in 1971. It however increased 14 times within a decade. In 1981, Biharis numbering 16186 persons migrated to Punjab along rural-rural stream of flow (Given the significance of rural-rural stream of migration, only this stream is dealt with unless specified otherwise in the following). There exists quantitative information in the Migration Tables which are conducive to highly interesting comparisons among various population flows destined to Punjab. It is observed that the percentile growth in the number of migrants bound to Bihar-Punjab direction was much higher than that in the direction from places-elsewhere-in-India to Punjab between the two censal years of enumeration. The long-distance Bihar-Punjab stream of outmigration activity increased much faster even in comparison to the short-distance outmigration stream within Bihar in this duration. In short, the regional outmigration from Bihar was undoubtedly phenomenal. It may be hypothesized that the so-called push factors operating there in Bihar were probably comparatively more powerful in thrusting mobile population out than the same operating therein the places of other states in India; such a hunch however remains tentative in nature till the statistical correlation between the migration rate and identified push forces are established by further researches. Be that as it may. In matter of gender selectivity, the Bihar-Punjab stream of rural outmigration was dominated by females in 1971. There were 660 females out of 1110 total migrants. It was however a male Mahmood Ansari Page | 10
  11. 11. Migration from the Rural Region dominated activity in 1981 i.e. 13631 males out of 16189 migrant persons. Majority of migrants bound to this stream were in the age group of 13-27 and 23-32 years in 1981. They were certainly not so young persons in comparison to the rest of enumerated migrants in Punjab who moved from place-elsewhere-in-India. The age-profile was not available in the 1971 Census. It is also not possible to ascertain either the marital status or educational attainment or caste composition or occupational profile of these migrants, since neither the Census of 1971 nor of 1981 had tabulated these characteristics nor selectivity profile separately for the rural-rural stream bound movers. The rate and intensity of mobility was not at all uniform. It varied year after year during the sixties as well as seventies. The classification of migrants according to the cohort-size based on duration of residence at destination showed different volume of migrants. The largest percentage of total outmigrants in the Bihar-Punjab stream moved only during the last quarter of sixties and seventies. The percentile level in the duration cohort-size of 1977-80 was however much larger than that in the duration cohort-size of 1967-70. It simply meant that the majority of Bihari migrants were of recent permanent residence in Punjab; they were certainly of less than four years of stay at destination. This was in sharp contrast to the observation that shortdistance stream of migration within the boundary of Bihar witnessed the majority of movers having more than twenty years of stay at destination villages and districts, according to the Census. The Census estimate of lifetime migrants did distinguish between workers and non-workers at the place of destination. In 1971, there were only 547 male workers in the rural-rural stream of Bihar to Punjab male migrant population. The migrant workers constituted 60 percent of total migrants in this stream in 1971. In 1981, the male migrant workers in the total male migrant population of this stream was however approximately 85.0. In terms of the absolute magnitude, there was growth of 43 times, and therefore, the number of migrant workers of rural Bihar origin was 11588 in rural Punjab by 1981. The analysis of data showed that out of every ten lakh persons, males and females in the occupation of rural workers in Bihar population, almost 17 persons, 20 males and zero female outmigrated to rural Punjab by 1971; the same increased to 597 persons, 728 males and 124 females respectively by the completion of 1981 Census. The Bihari workers were certainly a significant section of migrant workers residing in Punjab rural locations in the early eighties. What is more interesting is the fact that other streams of worker migration destined to Punjab declined however between the two censal years. The outmigrant workers who moved from district to district within the state of Punjab declined in volume. The workers stream inmigrating into Punjab from places elsewhere in India also declined. Read with the phenomenon of increase in the proportion of outmigrant workers constituting total outmigrant persons of ruralrural stream in Bihar-Punjab direction, the deceleration trend in other streams may tentatively be taken as an outcome of either the growing evenness in economic opportunities among districts of Punjab in reality or at least the perception of it in the eyes of migrant population. With regard to the sexual selectivity, what was observed in case of the rural-rural stream of Bihar-Punjab worker migration in 1971 was male domination amounting to hundred percent; it was due to the zero-base of female migrant workers. In 1981, the same however turned into merely a male majority. It seems that the long distanced dependent female worker migration phenomenon was rare, and even those females who accompanied male workers by virtue of the Mahmood Ansari Page | 11
  12. 12. Migration from the Rural Region family membership did not all take up the workers job at the destination. Nothing could be said with regard to the marital status, age-distribution and caste-composition dimensions of demographic and social characteristics of migrant workers of Bihar-Punjab stream since the same pertaining to the rural-rural stream were not separately tabulated in the Census of either 1971 or 1981. This was certainly the limitation of an aggregative data source on migration like the Census. The Census nonetheless provided the occupational classification of migrant workers but only for the year 1971. A comparative analysis with situation in the early eighties is therefore not possible. Given the zero for female workers, the occupation of only male migrant workers can be analysed. In 1971, the profession of agricultural labour and workers in construction and allied activities attracted 41percent of all Bihari male out-migrant workers to rural Punjab. The agricultural labour profession alone attracted 30 percent of the same; the rest 11 percent were employed in construction and allied activities. This may reflect the low level of skill as well as ambition on the part of rural Bihari migrant workers in rural Punjab, because all the three professions together could pull only 24 percent of migrant workers of districts within Punjab and 28 percent of migrant workers from places elsewhere in India in 1971. Be that as it may. A phenomenon of very recent moves of population in workers’ occupation was note-worthy. Majority of workers bound to rural Bihari-rural Punjab stream of outmigration were enumerated to have taken up residence at destination only during 1977-80 and 1980-81. They were therefore of very fresh permanence. The information on the duration of residence cohort-size was not available with the 1970 Census tabulation. No comparison can thus be made between sixties and seventies. All the twelve districts of Punjab did not pull equivalent volume of Bihari migrant population and labour. There was disproportionate distribution of migrants among destination districts both during sixties as well as seventies throughout. The Bihari rural migrants gravitated towards merely a couple of districts of Punjab. In 1971, they were mostly concentrated in Jullundar, Grurdaspur and Hoshiarpur district in descending order. Almost 56 percent of all migrants were enumerated in these three districts together. In 1981, Ludhiana emerged as the new choice along-with the old choice of Jullundar and Hoshiarpur. There were nearly 52 percent of total Bihari rural migrant workers residing in these three districts’ rural locations. The outmigrant workers however showed the choice of Roopnagar as well in 1971. The 1981 data on choice of district on the part of migrant workers was not tabulated by the Census. The Biharis were comparatively more dispersed lot. The migrant from the neighboring states of Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh in Punjab along the rural-rural stream were more concentrated in a few districts. The gravitation tendency on the part of these migrants from the neighboring states was stronger in 1981 than in 1971. Given the fact of compactness and smallness of geographical area of Punjab and relatively developed network of transportation and communication all over Punjab, the distance-decay hypothesis may not probably explain the choice of a district unit. It is therefore admitted that such a thesis of demographic geographical modeling gets weakened. 1.3. Seasonal Circulation Mahmood Ansari Page | 12
  13. 13. Migration from the Rural Region The field surveys undertaken by individual researchers have produced a rich reservoir of empirical findings on the theme of seasonal outmigration from eastern agrarian Indian regions to the western EI Dorado. These supplement the findings of the Census in many regards. It was affirmed that Rajasthani migrant labourers used to visit Punjab since the Independence, but stopped migrating as seasonal labourers in huge numbers by the late 1970s. Their place was already taken over in the late 1960s by Uttar Pradesh migrant workers in Punjab. The Seasonal migrants from Bihar also started visiting Punjab for work mainly since the last quarter of 1960s. The migration into Punjab from eastern Uttar Pradesh and from the drought prone areas of Madhya Pradesh also joined them. The Uttar Pradesh migrants who were earlier employed in agricultural and rural activities got shifted subsequently to works in industrial complex of urban Punjab. Bihari filled up the vacuum in rural locations of Punjab hence after (Gill, 1984; Singh, 1995). The seasonal Bihari migrants used to come and go every year; a few groups however used to stay for a couple of months only. In the peak period of agricultural season in Punjab during 1970s, every year approximately 2 lakh migrant workers used to land up in Punjab (Grewal and Sidhu, 1979). In 1980, it increased to 3 lakhs, and the same volume of arrival continued till 1988. Except for a lull observed during the height of terrorist attacks even on migrants for a few years, the 1980s flow was restored by April 1991 (Singh, 1995). The move went on, and the activists gathered in the National Workshop conducted by the Punjab University during 26-28 September 197 opined that the annual flow must be then hovering around 7 to 8 lakhs. The migrants used to arrive by trains via Muzaffarpur to Delhi to Punjab route or north Bihar railway stations to Lucknow to Punjab route. They had often been subjected to the malpractices and embarrassment caused by the railway staffs, police and commission agents in Punjab (Gill, 1984; Singh, 1995). These did not however prove to be a deterrent, given the powerful pull forces of Punjab. The seasonal Bihari out-migrant workers arrived in Punjab mostly during the second week of April to May, and stayed during June and July – the peak season in Punjab. The peak season of labour demand in Punjab and Bihar for a few crops did coincide, but it failed to deter the Bihari workers on move. The lean season in Bihar for other crops was however also the period of migration to Punjab (Singh, 1995). The flow of migrant labour coincided with the peak seasons for paddy and wheat crops in Punjab. There was therefore a broad dissimilarity in the seasonal labour demand between Jullundher and Ludiana on the one hand and eastern Champaran on the other. The paddy transplantation takes place in the month of July in both the states, and nevertheless, the Bihari migrants were there in Punjab in the same month. Ludhiana and Jullunder gradually emerged as the principal centres of destination for non-tribal Bihari outmigrants (Frankel, 1971; Gill, 1984; Singh 1995; IER, 1980; Singh, 1981; Gupta and Bhakoo; 1980, Grewal and Sidhu, 1979; Arora and Kumar, 1980; Oberai and Singh, 1980; Sidhu and Grewal, 1984). The characteristics and selectivity profile of the seasonal migrants had been captured by a number of studies. These established that the tribal out-migrants were mostly centered in Hoshiarpur, and the majority was of Ranchi district origin in Bihar. The case studies of three districts of Jullunder, Ludhiana and Hoshiarpur help establishing the demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of the Bihari out-migrants in Punjab. They were mostly males, of 18-35 years of age, married and illiterate, and the majority belonged to backward castes. They owned Mahmood Ansari Page | 13
  14. 14. Migration from the Rural Region some small patch of landed property, despite suffering periodically from indebtedness of household and generally being underemployed due to the seasonal nature of work in agriculture and the lack of non-agricultural employment at origin places back in Bihar (Grewal and Sidhu, 1979; Sidhu and Grewal, 1984; Gupta and Bhakoo, 1980; IER, 1980; Gill, 1984; Singh 1981). They are still today mostly again male-biased; however of younger age between 15-25 years, illiterate, unmarried, belonging to Munda, Oraon and Kharia tribal castes and owing some land of low fertility back at places of origin (Singh, 1981; Singh; 1995; Arora and Kumar, 1980). They worked in the agriculture of Punjab; however, those recruited for construction sites worked later as agricultural labour as well (Gill, 1984). These migrants were generally single person household (IER, 1980). The Bihari migrants in Punjab were reportedly sometime forcefully withheld with the particular employers like attached labourers (Singh, 1995). A few tribal migrants had been recruited by force and deceit committed by the contractors in Hoshiarpur; the latter acted in cooperation with the Teli and Punjabi agents situated at Ranchi. Sometimes, the out-migrants had been virtually sold to Punjab employers as bonded labour also (Singh, 1995). The Bihari migrants worked in 5-50 group under a ‘tolidar’ who himself was an agent of ‘Jamadar’. The ‘jamadar’ and ‘tolidar’ as leaders used to act as a link between Punjab employer and Bihari ‘bhayya’ migrant labour, recruit labour at origin places, finance taravel costs of migrants by giving loans, find jobs for them, supervise their work and collect due commissions from labourers in the group per day. In retrospect, the early construction activities, financed by the remittances of Punjab outmigrants in the middle-east countries and North America, were conducive in establishing migration contact between Bihar and Punjab in the seventies. Once contact was established in the construction activities, migration to the rural locations of Punjab became a regular phenomenon. Majority of migrants later got employed in agricultural activities only (Singh, 1995). Some of these migrants stayed back in Punjab permanently. These permanent settler migrants were often enumerated by the Census, each after ten years. 2. Causal Analysis of Rural Migration The Law of Migration of E.G. Ravenstein was a grand and monumental work of generalization about the characteristics, selectivity, pattern and directions of human migration. Such a generalization flourished during the last quarter of nineteenth century. Despite the fact that it was called ‘the law’, there was however no rigorous attempt at the causal analysis of migration. Inspired by Ravensteinian framework, what subsequently prospered in the name of migration study proper had therefore been in essence a documentation exercise for a long time in the discipline of demography. Such documentation attempts had again been heavily tilted toward collecting data only on the characteristics, selectivity and pattern of international migration. Ravenstein’s only remark of significance, which was more often than not forgotten in subsequent geographical and demographic modeling on the migration, was to the effect that the major cause of migration everywhere was economic in nature. It was the economic inducement which finally entered the decision-making process of a potential migrant. In the ESCAP (Economic and Social Commission on the Asia-Pacific) region, the documentation of data and information on the pattern and direction of intra-local, metropolitan and international migration Mahmood Ansari Page | 14
  15. 15. Migration from the Rural Region had though been refined in line with the various guidelines and manuals published by the United Nations in the 1970s, the study of reasons for migration has nonetheless been in the process a very late starter. Be that as it may. In the literature on migration during the last quarter of twentieth century, there existed at least two kinds of causal analysis of migration behaviour and activity: one, macro-analysis and another, microanalysis, the study of motivations of individual potential or actual migrant is the central focus. The reasons for migration are discovered by mapping the underlying individual motivational forces on the basis of replies to questionnaires. The decennial Census of India of 1981 tabulates the reasons for migration on the basis of replies to direct questions put to individuals enumerated, and it is therefore conducive to micro causal analysis. In the macroanalysis, the aggregate data on the volume of migration is shown to be in relation with the aggregative data on, say, employment variable, which is presumed to be the cause of migration. The statistical techniques of correlation exercise and regression analysis are widely used to establish the relation. It is of course an indirect method of explanation of migration phenomenon. In the Asia-Pacific region, the economic disparities between different locations in general and the differential in employment opportunities and income potential between geographical areas have been declared in the post-war studies to be the overriding reasons for migration. The employment differentials have been ranked at the top of the list as primary factor inducing mobility (UN-ECAFE, 1967). The macro-analysis based on the aggregative data has been the popular framework. Thanks to the works of Everett Lee (1966) and Michel Todaro (1967, 1969); the study of reasons for migration has of late been emerging as a dominant concern in both official and academic research. The neoclassical economic theory of migration in its modified form of Todaro model has the distinction of having both the microeconomic as well as macroeconomic foundation, and bringing the factor of expected real income differentials (a product of differentials of real wage earning and probability of finding a job at the destination) to the center-stage in the causal analysis of migration. The section is divided into three sub-sections. In the first sub-section, a theoretical framework on the relation between wage and employment on the one hand and migration on the other is developed along a simplified scheme. Todaro model on migration is certainly the inspiration. Given however the irrelevance of the concept of probability of finding a job in rural areas in India where gainful employments is often substituted by underemployment and the difference between informal and formal sector of rural employment is not meaningful, the Todaro model is sacrificed in favour of the simplified theoretical framework of the present paper. The Rural Labour Enquiry data on employment of various kinds and the daily and annual money and real wage earnings available to labour in Bihar and Punjab is compared in the second part. The argument that the differentials in wage earnings of labour of two states might be the principal reason of rural-rural stream bound Bihar-Punjab directed migration during sixties and seventies in he second half of twentieth century is developed at the last. 2.1. Theoretical Framework Mahmood Ansari Page | 15
  16. 16. Migration from the Rural Region In the domain of neoclassical theory of migration, the economic model propounded by Michael Todaro (1967, 1969, and 1976) survives as a casual model par excellence. It is one of the most formalized models in the migration study. The migration rate along rural-urban stream is here assumed to be a function of the real income differential between rural and urban sector. The individual decision to migrate is not therefore only influenced by the average rural real income and urban real wage rate but also the probability of finding a job in the modern sector within a given time period; the ratio of new job creation to the number of accumulated job aspirants influenced that probability. The microeconomic model of rural-urban migration and the derived aggregate dynamic equilibrium model of urban labour demand and supply are cast in the mathematised from as the following: S = fs (d); d = w. – r; and, p = . N/(S – N) implying S = fs [w. .N/(S - N] and V (o) = [p(t) – Y u(t) – Yr(t)] e-nt dt – C(O) In the above, ‘S’ refers to the aggregate labour supply, ‘N’ to the level of urban employment, ‘w’ to the urban real wage rate, ‘r’ to the average rural real income, ‘’ to the net rate of new urban job creation, ‘’ to the ratio of new job opening relative to the number of accumulated job aspirants in urban sector, ‘d’ to the expected real income differential between urban and rural sector, ‘V(O)’ to the discounted present value of the expected net urban-rural income stream over the migrants’ time-horizon, ‘C(O)’ to the costs of migration, ‘P(t)’ to the probability of findings a job in the urban sector within t period after migration, ‘Y u,r.(t)’ to the average real income in t period in the urban and rural sector, ‘n’ to the number of time-periods in the planning horizon of the migrant, and ‘fs’ to the functional notion. If V (O) is positive, the migration phenomenon takes place. In case of it being negative, no decision to migrate fructifies. Given the obsessed preoccupation of theorists, researchers and model builders with the popular dualistic growth models and highlighted problem of sectoral scarce resource allocation in the face of phenomenal reality of ubiquitous urbanization in the developing economies of Asia during the sixties, the rural-urban migration had occupied the central focus in migration, urbanization and regional growth studies. Todaro model addressed to this problem of ruralurban migration rather successfully. In case of rural-rural migration however, such a formal model and its assumptions were somewhat found to be irrelevant or at least not very meaningful and operational. The informal sector and formal sector of employments is, for example, not so easily distinguishable in rural India. Moreover, the probability of finding a job in rural sector by a rural migrant is not a meaningful exercise since a migrant would generally get a job — be that a gainful employment or underemployment – at least in a country like India. All said the relation between the rate of migration and real income differential in rural areas as discovered by Michel Todaro has remained of paramount significance. A simplified framework relevant to the ruralrural stream of migration is, therefore, still relevant. Such a framework, which is adopted in the present study, is presented below in a literary mould. Mahmood Ansari Page | 16
  17. 17. Migration from the Rural Region The nature of economic system at the origin and destination of migrants determines the decisive factors that directly, and quite often indirectly, influence the strength of pull or push or both factors combined in generating the rural out-migration. The structural set-up of regional economy may show the influence on triggering out-migration rather indirectly through its impact on rural labour market. It is often the wage and employment conditions and overall working environment that indirectly make the economic system one of the major determinants of the phenomenon of out-migration of rural labour in particular. In a situation of narrow and declining employment opportunity, sometimes combined with low and very slowly increasing daily wage towards through, the workers may typically resort to al least two options. In this case, they may either rise in debt obligations to meet the consumption and other requirements of the households over and above the expenditure sanctioned by the existing level of low income or, alternatively, they may move to destinations where average wage earnings are high or employment opportunity is ample and/or both are increasing over time to enhance the level of earnings. The long-distance rural migration is a distinct kind of mobility. In the case of voluntary innovative migration, which a long-distance mobility generally happens to be, a migrant mostly follows the ambition of improving rather that just maintaining the level of standard of living at the destination. A slowly increasing wage earning and employment opportunity at destinations combined with even small differentials in wage earnings and employment conditions between origin and destination may as such prove to be a sufficient inducement to take decisions to move on the part of segment of the population above subsistence level. The condition is that the small differential must be over and above the costs of long-distance move which is involved in crossing over the intervening obstacles. The segment of rural population, who are not only above the subsistence level of income but also have the capability to finance either through selffinancing or through borrowed money raised by leasing assets, may thus resort to the longdistance movement as such. The rest of rural population, failing to finance the costs of transportation of man and materials, may have to contend with either migration over short distance (conservative move) or, in the worst situation, rise in debt-obligation, and therefore, remain immobile. What is of crucial importance which needs to be taken care of particularly in an aggregative analysis is however that there happens to be often a lagged response of out-migration phenomenon to economic variables. The out-migration of a particular temporal dimension may not necessarily respond to the economic factors of the same temporal dimension always. The information about the wage-employment situations at destination pertaining to a couple of years back may trigger out-migration from the origin only today. This lagged response pattern prove to be more so a feature of long-distance regional migration, since it generally involves a long drawn-out decision-making process. In other words, while analyzing the patterns of flow of population among regions of long-distance in an aggregative analysis, it is to be examined whether these flows are consistent with the location as well as trend of changes therein the wage conditions and employment opportunities for the last couple of years. Finally, the definite assertions on the causal relations may not be convincingly and validly advanced on the basis of such aggregative data. Nevertheless, the aggregative analysis of such nature has informative value even when they are not as good as evidence. The interesting hypotheses still could be formulated. Mahmood Ansari Page | 17
  18. 18. Migration from the Rural Region 2.2. Employment and Wages: Rural Labour Enquiries The Rural Labour Enquiry is a relatively comprehensive source of the aggregate official data on the state-level situations of rural employment, unemployment and wages in India. It provides quantitative information on both the structure of employment as well as anatomy of unemployment (Planning Commission, 1970; Dantwala, 1972). Given the fact of the phenomenon of seasonality of employment being often interspersed with the spells of unemployment and underemployment, it renders the possibility of chronic and open unemployment being very minimal in agriculture. There exists therefore all the possibility of underestimation of rural unemployment. The Rural Labour Enquiry captures rather successfully the phenomenon of underemployment, and therefore, escapes the possibility of underestimation of unemployment. It provides thereby meaningful, reliable and information on rural unemployment and employment. Its data are moreover comparable and compatible due to its welcome practice of keeping uniformity in the methodology of compiling data over various rounds of enquiry. This further makes its data superior in comparison to other sources of aggregate information (Unni, 1998). We have used and relied on the RLE data also because it is the only source where the information on both the wages and employment/ unemployment are available at one place and compiled by the single agency. Since our purpose is served by the periodic data, this is very much available with the Rural Labour Enquiries of 1964-65, 1974-75 and 1977. The limitations of RLF is that is that it neither provides the information on the seasonal pattern of wage rate variations within a year (Sethuraman, 1988) nor affords the estimation of trend of yearly charges in the wage-rate (Nayyar, 1976; Lal, 1996; Jose, 1978). These limitations do not mar our purpose. In lieu of providing the classification of labour force into employed and unemployed, it rather estimates moreover the number of annual mandays of employment and unemployment, and in lieu of giving the prevailing wage rate, it estimates the average wages of member of the rural labour households. These serve our purpose very well. The Rural Labour Enquiries data on employment suggested that the annual mandays of employment available to male members of rural labour households in Punjab was considerably higher than the same available in Bihar in the mid-sixties i.e. 1964-65. This was the case observed more so in the category of wage-paid-employment status. On the contrary, the mandays of other-than-wage-employment category was higher in Bihar than that in Punjab in the same year. The gap in annual mandays of overall employment opportunity available to male members of rural labour households between the two States had largely decreased a decade after i.e. 1974-75. The same was higher in Bihar vis-à-vis Punjab in 1977-78; even, the mandays in wage-paid category as well as other-than-wage paid category of employment of male members of rural labour household were both higher in Bihar vis-à-vis Punjab by 1977-78. In the seventies, there did not thus seem to be any considerable difference in employment prospects between the two states. The very wide gap in the mandays not worked i.e. unemployment between the two states in the mid-sixties had also declined quite fast by mid seventies, and almost vanished 1977-78. A detailed examination is warranted. The total mandays in all categories of employment of labourer in all occupations was 58 days higher in 1964-65 and 38 days higher in 1974-75 but 20 days lower in 1977-78 in Punjab than Bihar respectively. The total mandays of wage-employment of a labourer in all occupations was 72 days higher in 1964-65 and 30 days higher 1974-75 but 17 days lower in 1977-78 in Punjab than Bihar respectively again. But, the total mandays of other-than-wage employment of a Mahmood Ansari Page | 18
  19. 19. Migration from the Rural Region labourer in all occupations was 14 days lower in 1964-65, 8 days higher in 1974-75 and again 3 days lower in 1977-78 in Punjab than Bihar respectively. The percentage changes over the years for each state are again interesting. In Bihar, there was faster percentage improvement in the mandays of other-than-wage-employment category than that in Punjab during 1974-75 to 197778. In comparison to the wage-employment category with Bihar, the mandays of other-thanwage-employment improved fast during 1974-75 to 1977-78 against the higher percentage decline of the same during 1964-65 to 1974-75. The Rural Labour Enquiries provide data on employment mandays of a labour in different occupations separately. The total mandays in all categories of employment of a labourer in agricultural labour occupation was 65 days higher in 1964-65 and 39 days higher in 1974-75 but 14 days lower in 1977-78 in Punjab than that in Bihar respectively. The total mandays of wagepaid category of employment was again 83 days higher in 1964-65 and 42 days higher in 1974-75 but 15 days lower in 1977-78 in Punjab that than in Bihar respectively. The total mandays of other-than-wage-employment of a labourer in agricultural labourer occupation was however 18 days lower in 1964-65 and 3 days lower in 1974-75 but 1 day higher in 1977-78 in Punjab than that in Bihar respectively. The employment in the agricultural labour occupations had improved in Punjab but later during 1974-75 to 1977-78 the pace of percentage improvement of the same in Punjab slowed down. A very moderate percentage improvement in the mandays of wage employment was discernible in Punjab against the fast percentage improvement in that in Bihar. The tendency was just opposite in the scenario of mandays of other-than-wage-employment. The total number of mandays in all categories of employment of a labour in non-agricultural labourer occupation was 43 days higher in 1964-65 but 25 days lower in 1974-75 and again 1 day lower in 1977-78 in Punjab than that in Bihar respectively. The mandays in wage-paid employment category was 44 days higher in 1964-65, 8 days higher in 1974-75 and again 8 days higher in 1977-78 in Punjab than that in Bihar respectively. And, total mandays of other-thanwage-employment of a labourer in non-agricultural labour occupation was only one day lower in 1964-65 but 33 days lower in 1974-75 and again still 9 days lower in 1977-78 in Punjab than that in Bihar respectively. In percentile terms, the mandays of wage employment witnessed an improvement in Bihar against the decline in Punjab during 1964-65 to 1974-75. During 1974-75 to 1977-78, the condition however improved in both the states. The same was true for the mandays of other-than-wage-employment in the states during 1964-65 to 1974-75 to 1977-78; nonetheless, the percentile decline in this category in Bihar was higher than that in Punjab in this period. It becomes clear from the elaborate comparison that the rural workers in non-agricultural labourer occupation had been privileged to have the availability of higher number of mandays of other-than-wage employment as well as aggregate mandays of employment opportunities than the counterpart in agricultural labourer occupation in Bihar in all the three reference years. In the case of wage-employment availability such a privilege was although attainable only in 197475. In Punjab, however, the rural workers in non-agricultural labour occupation had been enjoying higher number of mandays of other-than-wage-employment only than the counterpart in agricultural labour occupation in all the three reference years. The advantage followed in the case of wage-employment and aggregate employment was observed only in 1977-78. The comparative estimate of unemployment situation is equally interesting. The total number of mandays not worked by a labourer irrespective of occupation was 40 days higher in 1964-65, Mahmood Ansari Page | 19
  20. 20. Migration from the Rural Region 13 days higher in 1974-75 and 1 day higher in 1977-78 in Bihar than that in Punjab respectively. The mandays not worked by a labourer of agricultural labour occupation was 1 day lower in 1964-65 but 13 days higher and again 1 day lower in Bihar than that in Punjab respectively. The mandays not worked by a labourer of non-agricultural labourer occupation was 2 days lower in 1964-65, 37 days lower in 1974-75 and again 10 days lower in 1977-78 in Bihar than that in Punjab respectively. The percentage increase in the mandays not worked by worker in agricultural labourer occupation was higher than that of a worker in non-agricultural labourer occupation during 1964-65 to 1975-76 in both the States. The number of mandays not worked by a labourer of agricultural labourer occupation through remaining larger than that of a worker in non-agricultural labour occupation in both the States even in 1977-78 was however more noticeable in the case of Bihar vis-à-vis Punjab. This was the situation in the backdrop of the fact that the unemployment situation faced by a worker in non-agricultural labour occupation in Punjab was worse than that in Bihar in all the reference years. In short, the capitalist framework of rural economy seems to have afforded no remarkable advantage and edge over to Punjab vis-à-vis the backward semi-feudal agrarian economy of Bihar in matter of availability of rural employment. Given the pace of proletarianisation of rural labour in Punjab, the employment opportunities scenario had not improved in any considerable way vis-à-vis rural Bihar. In other words, the rate and direction of migration from Bihar does not seem to be consistent with the location and magnitude of labour employment and unemployment. It does not seem to be the case that the employment situation of rural Punjab could had acted as a vital pull factor for rural Bihari out-migrants. What is left then to be investigated is the location and magnitude of wage earnings of labour. The Rural Labour Enquiry data established it that the average daily money wage earnings (we are dealing throughout the text with the male worker only) in all occupations of rural labour households had however been higher in Punjab vis-à-vis Bihar in all the reference years. The range of difference was from 1.39 to 2.07 times. The average daily money wage earning of a rural labour in all operations was 1.9 times higher in 1974-75 and 2.0 times in 1977-78 in Punjab than that in Bihar (1964-65 data was not available). In agricultural operations, it was 1.52 times higher in 1964-65, 1.5 times higher in 1974-75, and 2.07 times higher in 1977-78 in Punjab than those in Bihar respectively. In non agricultural operation, it was however merely 1.39 times, 1.58 times and 1.45 times higher in 1964-65, 1974-75 and 1977-78 respectively in Punjab than those in Bihar. The percentage increase observed in wage earnings in agricultural operations was higher than that in non-agricultural operation in both the states during 1964-65 to 1974-75. But during 1974-75 to 1977-78, the opposite was observed in both the States. The same features are again discernible in the case of annual average money wage earning in all the operations. It was consistently higher in Punjab in comparison to Bihar in all the reference years. The range of differentials was from 1.50 to 2.38 times. A worker of all occupations in all operations earned 2.18 and 1.86 times higher annual average money wage income in Punjab than Bihar in 1974-75 and 1977-78 respectively. In agricultural operations, it was 2.09, 2.38 and 1.95 times higher in 1964-65, 1974-75 and 1977-78 respectively in Punjab vis-à-vis Bihar. In the case of non-agricultural operations, it was 1.09, 1.64 and 1.50 times higher in 1964-65, 1974-75 and 1977-78 respectively in Punjab than Bihar. Again, the annual earnings of a worker of nonagricultural labour occupation in non-agricultural operations had been higher than that of a worker of agricultural labour occupation in agricultural operations in both the states exception being Punjab in 1974-75. In Bihar, the former witnessed higher percentile increase than the Mahmood Ansari Page | 20
  21. 21. Migration from the Rural Region latter during both 1964-65 to 1974-75 and 1974-75 to 1977-78. In Punjab, it was so during 1974-75 to 1977-78 only; however, the growth was much faster in comparison to that in Bihar. It seems that the sharp increases in daily, and therefore, annual money wage earning of rural labour in the duration since 1964-65 to 1977-78 reflected mainly the price changes. The consumer price index (general) for agricultural labourers was higher in Bihar in comparison to Punjab in all the three reference years. The indices for both the states were however above the average index for all-India in 1977-78. Though, the index in Punjab was lower than the average index for all India in 1964-65 as well as 1974-75, the same was repeatedly higher in Bihar in both years. Both the States witnessed sharp rise in the indices between 1964-65 and 1974-75 and then dropped by 1977-78. In this background, the changes in the real wage earnings of labour had been faster in Bihar vis-à-vis Punjab, but that was principally the outcome of price increase. It is therefore necessary to discuss the situation of real wages. The average daily real wage earnings of a labourer in all operations was 2.21 times higher in 1974-75 and merely 2.06 times higher in 1977-78 in Punjab than that in Bihar. The same in agricultural operations was 1.64, 2.31 and 2.31 higher in 1964-65, 1974-75 and 1977-78 respectively in Punjab than that in Bihar. In case of the non-agricultural operation, it was only 1.50, 1.84 and 1.49 times higher in 1964-65, 1974-75 and 1977-78 respectively in Punjab than that in Bihar. The percentile decline in real wage earning in agricultural operation had been a bit lower figure than that in the non-agricultural operation in Bihar during 1964-65 and 1974-75. During 1974-75 to 1977-78, however, the percentage improvement in real wage earnings in non-agricultural operations was substantially higher than that in agricultural operation in Bihar. The same trend followed in Punjab but at a lower pace. Likewise, the annual real wage earnings of a labourer in all occupations and in all operations was 2.54 and 1.92 times higher in 1974-75 and 1977-78 respectively in Punjab than that in Bihar. In the agricultural labourer occupation in agricultural operation, it was 2.26, 2.80 and 2.01 times higher in 1964-65, 1974-75 and 1977-78 respectively. In case of the non-agricultural labour occupation in non-agricultural operations, it was merely 1.82, 1.91 and 1.54 times higher in the respective reference years. Again, the annual real wage earning of labour in non-agricultural occupations had consistently been higher to that in agricultural operations in both States exception being 1974-75 in Punjab. In terms of percentage improvement and decline in Bihar and Punjab in the real earnings in different categories of operations, the same conclusion as above holds. It is therefore not outrageous to conclude that the rate and direction of labour migration from Bihar was consistent with the location and size of wage earnings in India. The higher wage earning possibility in Punjab might have acted as a powerful pull factor for Bihari migrants. The factor of wages might have entered into the decision-making process of Bihari migrants in the sixties and seventies in the twentieth century. 2.3. Employment and Wages in Punjab A number of research works based on primary as well as secondary data-sources on the rural wages and employment situations in Punjab were published in the early and late seventies. Mahmood Ansari Page | 21
  22. 22. Migration from the Rural Region The controversy raged, and the debates prolonged on the issue of relation between the labour market conditions and green revolution. Nonetheless, the final conclusion was in favour of the thesis that whereas the wages increased, the employment declined in Punjab in the late phase of green revolution. A survey of literature in brief is warranted. It was claimed in the beginning that the high yielding varieties technology basing itself on highpay-off inputs model assumed significance as it contributed not only to enhanced productivity but also to the increased employment opportunities in agriculture (Hyami and Ruttan, 1971). The growth in income, which resulted from higher output, was projected to have indirect positive impact on employment as well. The higher frequency of cropping and resulting higher input per acre in Punjab tended to make for slightly higher labour-input use on even the tractorusing farms (Grewal and Kahlon, 1972). It was also argued vehemently that mechanization on a large scale was effective in breaking the time-bottleneck. It provided the incentive for doublecropping. If at all, there were negative effects of limited mechanization, it got neutralized by the positive effects of higher yields, shifts to labour-intensive crops, double cropping and large-scale use of new inputs. In terms of individual operation, the new technology through tended to reduce the demand for labour in activities associated with the land preparation by tractor and threshing by machine, it increased however the demand for labour in almost all other operations and particularly harvesting and transplanting. The overall result was the increase in the volume of work as well as the use of hired labour. An extensive survey of numerous individual studies established the fact in Punjab (Dasgupta, 1977). In empirical studies, it was discovered that the application of HYV seeds in Punjab agriculture during 1967-68 and 1968-69 resulted, for example, in reduction of unemployed labour days by 50 percent. The demand for labour per hectare of net cultivated area rose by 6.0 percent. In other words, the demand for labour in mandays unit as percentage of total unemployed labour mandays witnessed increase of 24.3. This was established however on the basis of analysis of data provided by the Farm Management Survey and Program Evaluation Organisation (Lahiri, 1970). It was further estimated that the annual labour use per cropped area in Punjab increased not only during 195455 to 1956-57 but also during 1967-68 to 1969-70 to 1972-73 finally. The improvement was the result of significant shift in the cropping patterns towards expansion of area under HYV seed i.e. more labour-intensive seed vis-à-vis local varieties of seed. It was equally the contributions of cropping intensity increase coupled with increase in total cropped area by 23.76 percent over the period 1965-66 to 1973-74 (Singh and Sidhu, 1976). Moreover, theoretically speaking, the introduction of irrigation in agriculture had the potential of a facilitating an increase in labour employment in a number of direct and indirect ways. An improvement in the cropping intensity and intensity of input-use tended to boost the potential of employment creation further up (Patel, 1981). In nutshell, the per-hectare use of human labour declined in Punjab only for some highly mechanized crop operations —an example of specific cases. The total impact of farm mechanization was however in the direction of bullock-labour displacement rather that human labour displacement. This was what was established by a majority of studies (Chadha, 1986). In the face of these theoretical and empirical claims, the counter thesis was relatively powerfully advanced. It was argued time and again: first, allowing the control on farming size, and familybased/wage based labour, a strong inverse relationship between farm-size and overall labouruse per unit of cultivated land was convincingly established for the so-called green revolution technology belt of India, for example, Punjab. This was observed in the course of household surveys in 26 villages of Ludhiana district in Punjab (Oberai and Ahmed, 1981). Second, the potential of generating indirect employment by the new technology was rather limited. The Mahmood Ansari Page | 22
  23. 23. Migration from the Rural Region initial increase in income and employment experienced with the introduction of HYV seeds in wheat, rice and bajra was of course there, but it was because of the greater productivity attained per acre rather than greater potential of labour intensity associated with it. It was remarked as a way of caution that unless the productivity was maintained and rising at the earliest high rate and labour-saving mechanization such as harvester-combines discouraged, the total employment was bound to decline ultimately (Bhalla, 1976). In the mid-1960s, a Punjab farmer with wellirrigated land, use of Persian wheel, fertilizers and pesticides used to attain an average 150 percent cropping intensity which in turn led to the increase in demand for labour per acre from 51 to 60 mandays. The use of tractors, pump sets, wheat threshers and corn shellers pushed the demand however down to 25.6 mandays. Given the possibility in the case of Punjab of increasing the cropping intensity to 220 percent, the demand was projected to have worked out to be 49.4 mandays. It was nearly 3 mandays less than that required in the case of basic traditional Persian wheel based technology in agriculture (Billings and Singh, 1969). The ‘additive model’ in the case of Punjab was constructed using various sources of data. An attempt was made to explain the direct and indirect changes in the use of family labour due to introduction of HYV seeds, irrigation, chemical fertilizers, tube wells and tractors. The wrapping up of this model was: the post-green revolution technology in Punjab during 1967-68 to 1972-73 undoubtedly resulted in a decline in the labour-use per cropped acre (Krishna, 1975). The data of the Comprehensive Scheme for Studying the Cost of Cultivation of Principal Crops narrated nearly similar account of Punjab. A sustained rise in labour use per hectare was the usual initial response. This trend peaked hade however in the mid seventies. Further increase in yields afterwards witnessed only decline in per hectare labour absorption. In the coming decade, the total agricultural employment might have gone down further in Punjab. Punjab belonged to the low labour-absorption states in India. The per-hectare labour-absorption for all corps combined was only 65 mandays during the triennium, 1981-82 to 1983-84. The growth rate in production over 3 percent, and the trend growth in gross cropped area under all crops was 2.002 during 1971-72 to 1983-84. But in spite of all these positive values, the trend rate of growth in per hectare labour absorption was 0.887 in the same duration. The trend rate of growth in the total labour absorption was nonetheless maintained at positive level of 1.079, and it was solely due to gross crop area expansion together with shift of area to more labourintensive crops. The same would not have remained the story, however, in the coming decade (Bhalla, 1987). The literature shows that conflicts in opinions and findings on wages in Punjab were no less noteworthy than on employment. The agricultural production in Punjab had increased by more than 60 percent between 1960-61 and 1967-68. But the average real wages of male agricultural labourer in Punjab witnessed a slight decline in the same period as data of the Agricultural Wages in India showed (Bardhan, 1970). The money wages of agricultural labour improved by 89 percent in Punjab and Haryana in 1986 compared with the daily money wages of agricultural labour in 1961. In spite of substantial increases in agricultural production, the rise in prices was however 93 percent over the same period. The so-called gain in money wages was then totally offset, and the trickle-down effect of the green revolution was therefore only partially visible (HDG Report, 1973). With regard to real wages, it was argued that the agricultural output went up to more than two and half times its level attained in 1961 but real wages at best registered a rise of approximately 15 percent only during 1961-1977 in Punjab. This is what was clearly shown by the data of Statistical Abstract of Punjab. The output dropped below the 1961 level in only one year of 1963 but the real wages fell of 1961 standard in standard in several years in the Mahmood Ansari Page | 23
  24. 24. Migration from the Rural Region case of operations other than harvest. There was utterly slow response of money wages to changes in the consumer price index even during the 1970s (Bhalla, 1979). As regards the real wage rate of agricultural labour in Punjab, it of course declined by 1.98 percent between 1956-57 and 1964-65. The real wage index declined further by nearly 3 percent between 1970-71 and 1984-85. The first through in real wages movement was reached in 197475 followed by that in 1980-81 when the index dropped by almost 15 percent. But the real wage rate recorded an increase of approximately 50 percent in the whole duration between 1956-57 and 1984-85 (Jose, 1978). It was later argued that the whole problem lies with the choice of base year. The year 1967-68 was a year of rising prices, and the green revolution had not gained momentum till 1968-69, and therefore, there was a decline witnessed in the real wages till 196768 (Lal, 1976). What was required was to take the base year 1956-57 and the index of real wages in Punjab rose to 138 by 1970-71, as per the NSS data. In the same manner, what was required was to take the same year 1956-57 as base year, and the index of real wages in Punjab was 118 in 1967-68 and 153 in 1970-71, as per the AWI data. In other words, the analysis of data of the National Sample Survey and the Agricultural Wages in India did show the increase in the real wages as well. Undoubtedly, the green revolution in prosperous Punjab led to the introduction of formal contract between employers and employees, and replaced the paternalistic relation of yesteryears. But then the bargaining position of the Punjab workers was undoubtedly depressed by the mechanization process and migration of workers from less favoured areas (Bagchi, 1982). All said, Punjab continued to offer the highest absolute level of money wages among all the Indian states till mid- 1980. Our conclusions on the basis of RLE data and secondary sources got strengthened in the light of a later sample survey undertaken by a research scholar ML Khurana (quoted in Chadha, 1989). The survey was based on small number of samples, and pertained to the year 1981-82. The methodology adopted was of course different. It estimated that the mandays of wage employment available on-farm and off-farm per non-cultivating rural labour house-hold in Bihar was higher than in Punjab. The same was the case with mandays of other-than-wage employment including self-employment off-farm. But, given the more than double mandays of on-farm employment opportunities in dairy and poultry activities available in rural Punjab in comparison to Bihar, the total mandays of overall employment of all categories was slightly higher in Punjab than that in Bihar. There was however large differentials still existing between the two States in average daily earnings as well as net earnings per labour household. The average daily earnings in total employment was 1.19 times higher and net earnings in total employment 2.02 times higher in Punjab in comparison to those respectively in Bihar. The average daily earnings and net earnings in wage employment were 1.55 times and 1.43 times higher on farms of Punjab than those respectively of Bihar. In other words, whereas Bihar and Punjab offered the more or less equivalent mandays of employment opportunity to rural labour, the rewards in terms of earnings had wide differential between the States even in the beginning of 1980s. In short, despite the fact that the different studies utilize different source of data and such data sources have various kinds of shortcomings, the overall conclusion from these studies strengthen the findings based on the Rural Labour Enquiries on wages and employment in Punjab. Notwithstanding the employment availability scenario, there were marked high differences in the absolute amount of daily and annual money wage rewards earned by male labour in different occupations and operations in rural areas of Bihar and Punjab. The inequality Mahmood Ansari Page | 24
  25. 25. Migration from the Rural Region between the two States assumes more importance in matter of real daily wage earnings and annual real wage earnings. The differentials in real earnings magnitude though decreased since mid-seventies. Nevertheless, it remained substantial to act as pull and push factor. Remarks In the pretty long history of migration in Bihar, the colonial migration of indentured labour, which had been caused by the historical facts of regional dependence at the origin and which gave rise to the phenomenon of segmented labour market alike institutional arrangement at the destination, provided a fine illustration of forced nature of residential displacement during the nineteenth century. In contrast, the recent migration during the second half of twentieth century offered glimpses of more or less voluntary mobility induced by the imperfect labour market itself. There was however elements of both innovation and distress contained in this long-distance regional migration. The post-colonial outmigration from Bihar as like the colonial one had also been equally significant in volume and size. The pattern and direction of rural migration had however changed in the course of time. The reasons for migration changed as well in the post-independence India. The Bihar migrants arrived in Punjab due to unavailability of regular jobs, economic sufferings caused by the natural calamities, agricultural stagnation and backwardness leading to meager and unassured income and lack of sufficient opportunities of agricultural and non-agricultural employment at the origin, according to a number of individual and institutional researchers (who had relied on field-survey as method of enquiry). There had been a consensus that the most important overriding reason behind migration had however been the pull factors of assured employment and higher wages and income potentiality offered in Punjab (Gupta and Bhakoo, 1980; Singh, 1995; IER, 1980). The migration continued even in face of the fact that the migrants casually failed to get the Minimum Wages Act implemented, and to share the benefits of public distribution system at the destination (Gill, 1984; Singh, 1995). Moreover, the migrants worked sometimes under the harsh conditions. This was very well illustrated by the news that out of 5000 deaths resulting from the farm machine accidents in India in 1978, almost 500 deaths, mostly of the migrants, took place in Punjab only—the damaging fall-out of farm mechanization (Dhanagre, 1985). The incapacitation of workers in the form of loss of limbs in thresher accidents had been high enough, and over the years on the increase in Punjab, and the majority of victims of such accidents had been the migratory labour from Orissa, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar (Times of India, 4 April, 1986). In short, the pull factors of first, the assured employment, and second, the high income offered by the capitalist Punjab had successfully worked in attracting Bihari migrants even in the backdrop of hazardous nature of work and work-related casualty during the seventies and eighties. The harsh conditions could not deter the migrants to undertake the costly long-distance travels, over-come the intervening obstacles created by the railway staffs, police and commission agents, and seek work in an alien culturalresidential milieu. The micro-scale field-survey based observations on the reasons for Bihari migration had been corroborated by the large-scale enumeration-census findings. The Census also used the questionnaire method and survey techniques to elicit the responses of individual migrant on the reason for migration. The Census however came to the conclusion that the employment Mahmood Ansari Page | 25
  26. 26. Migration from the Rural Region singularly was the motivation factor, and therefore, the overriding reason behind migration. According to the Census of 1981, the highest percentage of male migrants enumerated in rural Punjab reporting employment to be the reason came only from Uttar Pradesh followed by Bihar rural location. The Bihari rural male migrants comprised 19.0 percent of all rural male migrants in Punjab. But, among those who reported employment to be reason for migration, it constituted 26.0 percent. Within the population of rural-rural stream bound Bihar-Punjab directed male migrants having 0-4 year’s duration of residence at destination, almost 88.0 percent reported employment as the reason and the rest 12.0 percent other reasons for migration in the 1981 Census enumeration. The Census had however been silent on the status of ‘wages and earnings’ as probable reason for migration. In other words, the individual motivation enquiry oriented questionnaires based surveys of origin and destination areas of Bihari migrants had led to the conclusion of employment being the most significant reason of migration to Punjab. In the present paper, the indirect method of causal analysis of migration has been used. The comparative analysis of the aggregate data on employment and wages in Bihar and Punjab has established it that there did not exist any considerable difference between the rural pockets of two states in matter of availability of the mandays of annual employment and unemployment of male labour in the mid-seventies and last quarter of seventies. Given the magnitude of employment and unemployment and the trend of changes observed by the Rural Labour Enquiries between mid-sixties and late seventies, it seems strange to conclude that the better prospect of employment in rural Punjab might really had been the cause of Bihari migration. However, there did exist significantly wide differential in daily and annual money and real wage earnings of male labour between the states under consideration. The information might have been accessible to the potential migrants. The pull of large earnings might had conditioned and triggered the seasonal as well as permanent migration from rural Bihar. What was thus important was the prospect of annual earnings rather than employment as such. In view of the relations established between wage earnings and migration on the basis of aggregate data, it is worth arguing that the Census in particular had somehow failed in capturing the exact reason for migration. It could not succeed in furnishing the objective realistic picture in this regard because it harped on the perception of migrants as conditioned by their present status at the destination rather than actual position with regard to the long thought-out reason. The Census while asking question on reason for migration did not distinguish among situations of actually employed, seeking work already and just arrived to seek work. All were clubbed together, and therefore, the question put by the Census agents was certainly vague enough to leave scope for confused reporting by the respondent migrants. The migrants who might have been primarily motivated by the prospect of higher earnings (from employment) rather than employment per se might nevertheless report employment to be the reason for mobility, when no separate specific question was asked on the earnings. Among the five categories of reasons classified and tabulated by the Census, there was no separate category of earnings. In such a circumstance, if there is any germ of truth in the proposition that the Indian Census agents had been ill-motivated due to lower remuneration as well as lack of training, there did exist a real possibility that the enumerators were not sufficiently trained themselves to put questions on reasons for migration in proper ways. Be that as it may. In the fact of shortcomings of the Census operation, the aggregative data-based conclusion on the positive relation between wage earnings and outmigration from Bihar to Punjab holds strongly. Mahmood Ansari Page | 26