Migrants have contributed significantly in development of the state of Gujarat

Jatin Desai
Tuesday, 23 October 2018

The exodus began after a horrific rape of a 14-month-old girl in Himmatnagar of Sabarkantha district by a migrant worker on September 28. One Bihari migrant worker was arrested for the alleged rape. Many migrant workers were brutally attacked.

Gujarat is in the news again and not for the good reasons. Around 50,000 migrant labourers from the North Indian states have left Gujarat in an atmosphere of fear and revenge. The exodus has affected the industrial sector and the economy. It is also against the spirit of national integration. The blame game has started. The exodus began after a horrific rape of a 14-month-old girl in Himmatnagar of Sabarkantha district by a migrant worker on September 28. One Bihari migrant worker was arrested for the alleged rape. Many migrant workers were brutally attacked.

Migrants have contributed significantly to the development of Gujarat. The fact is, migrants always help in building the economy. Migrants are also cheap labourers. They work cheaply than the local or indigenous workers. So, globally one can see tense relations between migrants and local people. Such kind of scenario prevails across the world. The US faces serious migration from Mexico. In the late sixties and seventies, Mumbai witnessed anti-South Indian campaign. The sentiment was local people are deprived of job opportunities as people who have migrated from South India are ‘snatching’ their jobs.

Sanjay Nirupam, President of Mumbai Congress, was criticised recently for saying Mumbai will come to halt if North Indians stop working. The fact is migrant labourers are inevitable for the development of cities in a capitalist system. The simple economics is people from backward economy migrate to forward economy. Mumbai and Gujarat’s economy is strong compared to UP, MP, Bihar and so migration of people from these states is natural. In a similar way educated people from Mumbai, Gujarat and other places migrate to the US or Europe. Surat has around seven to eight lakh workers from North India apart from the sizeable number of workers from the drought-prone districts of Maharashtra. They contribute to the economy in a big way. The exodus has already started affecting Gujarat’s economy badly.

In 2014 elections, the Gujarat model of development was projected as a key to India’s development. But, one needs to realise that like any other state all is not well in Gujarat. The number of unemployed youths is increasing. They are looking for jobs. The timing of attacks on migrants and exodus is also significant. Diwali festival is approaching, elections in five states including MP, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan are to be held next month and in January the ‘Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit’ is planned. It also means that local people need to find jobs in the industrial sector. The main reason for resentment among Patel community also lies in the high percentage of unemployment coupled with the agrarian crisis. It is also a failure of much talked Gujarat model of development. Worried CM Vijay Rupani assured that they will make it mandatory for manufacturing and service sector companies to hire 80 per cent of their workforce from Gujarat’s domicile. 

UP CM Yogi Adityanath and Bihar CM Nitish Kumar spoke to Vijay Rupani and expressed their concern over attacks on North Indian migrants. The Congress has questioned PM Narendra Modi’s silence on the issue. Congress spokesperson Manish Tewary said, “It seems the Gujarat government is both incapable and unwilling to stop these incidents.” 

The BJP has accused Alpesh Thakor, a Congress MLA, and his organisation Gujarat Kshatriya Thakor Sena for the violence against North Indians. Around 400 people were arrested and most of them are from Thakor community. The BJP has asked the Congress to take action against its MLA. The unemployment among Thakor community is a serious issue. Now, Alpesh is on the back foot. Alpesh said that he never asked his followers to attack migrants. He claims that the allegations against him are made by the BJP to defame him.  

As the world has become a small village, the issue of migration will continue to stay. The people need to accept migration and have to live in peace with reality. The migrants contribute significantly to the economy.

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