Migration is important for the transfer of manpower and skills and provides the needed knowledge and innovation for global growth. International migration is an enduring feature of Indian and global history that has withstood the test of time. In today’s world of labour and capital mobility, India is an important country for international labour migration and is ranked globally amongst the largest recipients of foreign remittances. The emigration flows over the past decade have more than doubled (MEA, 2018) and this growth, notwithstanding the effects of COVID-19, will likely accelerate, spurred by sustained economic and social changes, rapid urbanization, better transportation and communication, and the presence of strong social and migration networks.
India’s international migration represents features that characterize the complexity of migration in the 21st century – a composite mix of different skill levels, temporary and circular migration, significant student mobility and the growing importance of the feminization of migration. Currently the Indian diaspora is over 31.3 million comprising of People of Indian Origin or Overseas Citizen of India (PIOs/OCIs) and expatriate Indians (NRIs) living outside India (MEA estimates) with particular concentrations in North America, the Gulf Countries, South East Asia and Southern and Eastern Africa. The size and spatial scope of the overseas Indian community underlines the rise of trans-nationalism by which people straddle more than one country participating in full measure in the economy and society of both the country of origin as well as the country of destination.
Further, India is expected to have a 56 million workforce surplus as against a shortage of 47 million in Western countries. In such a scenario, India is therefore well positioned to leverage its large number of skilled youth to occupy a diverse range of job roles globally, congruent to their level of skill and expertise. This would then keep India as one of the leading players in global transactions. Of late, emerging trends have also shown an increase in the number of Indian migrants exploring other destinations in different regions of the world. Corresponding to these developments, there are many scholars in India who are researching on the various aspects of these migratory flows from a multidisciplinary perspective.
As a contributor and a curator, ICM wishes to open avenues to discuss and deliberate on emerging themes of migration research, migration trends and the impact of this long-standing phenomenon on the country. To this end, ICM has already initiated as series of virtual discussion that has brought together a range of experts working on various dimensions of international migration. However, there is a need to build a national level migration network that brings together all the scholars, practitioners, and organizations under the same roof. Presently, there are many informal groupings and organizations working on illegal migration, trafficking, refugees and various variables of migration. Having a formalized network that will act as a source of ideas, tools, reliable data and information, analysis, and policy guidance on migration issues, can elevate and enhance research and studies in the field of migration by encouraging more academically rich and relevant work.ICM believes it is well positioned as a think tank to initiate the process of building a migration network. As an initial step in this direction, ICM plans to hold a stakeholder consultation to discuss and develop ideas and inputs to create a Migration Network in India.
Rationale and Scope
The building of this knowledge network will require the mobilization of many stakeholders.This encompasses various practitioners, academicians, think tanks and wider research communities to come together and deliberate on all dimensions of international migration in a holistic and comprehensive manner. Developing this knowledge network will initiate, contribute and support a common platform where detailed analysis on core areas of international migration can be discussed. Dialogues can be initiated in the areas of labour supply gaps, trends and dynamics of the international labour market, international good practices concerning safety and welfare of emigrant workers, diaspora, remittances, student mobility and development etc. This network will be a mutually beneficial exercise in linking academia, international organisations and civil society to policy makers and also widen the research collaboration of ICM in India.
Against this background, ICM is hosting a virtual consultation meeting on 10 December 2020 from 1500 to 1630 hrs to deliberate on some of the key themes listed below.