IIPM-The Indian Institute of Planning and Management
Published on August 2, 2010 By pankajspider In The Media

Yes and yes again – whenever one reads any story related to North-Eastern girls and boys migrating to prime metros, one simply expects the portrayal of racial discrimination, sexual harassment, crime and all that related jazz! As a toast to that, allow us to present a shamelessly contrarian and adulatory endorsement of such migration by Neha Saraiya


Author U. A. Shimray, quoting the report, writes in an essay Feeling Diaspora that Chandigarh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Delhi also appear “best choice destinations for education for North-Eastern migrants”; and that the 2001 population census shows education was the reason for 15.17% of the total migration from North-East to Chandigarh, with Maharashtra (14.12%), Tamil Nadu (10.66%) and Delhi (6.0%) following. ISEC’s study further observed that smaller and tribal dominant states like Nagaland, Mizoram, Arunachal and Manipur also prefer Delhi as the destination for pursuing education.

This is the case even with respect to jobs, where too, Delhi/NCR remains a de facto choice. Another factor that reinforces the presence of north east population in Delhi/NCR is the huge organised retail sector, which is an estimated $37 billion industry and currently employs an approximately 820,000 people, a number expected to grow by 30% on a y-o-y basis. Take the case of Heena Shah, who runs an upscale fabric walk-in-store in a surprisingly quaint location in South Delhi’s Shahpur Jat – 90% of her workforce hails from NER. Says Shah, “These girls are not only presentable but are also willing to work at a lower salary grade than a localite who would ask at least 30% more than them. Moreover, their working shifts are also flexible and their strong English background makes it easier for them to deal with foreigners.” That’s not a surprise, as literacy rates are much above the national average in many North-Eastern states, with leading examples – according to the National Family Health Survey 2005-06 – being Mizoram (89.9% literacy rate), Tripura (80.2%) and Manipur (76.5%), which are way ahead of the national literacy rate of 67.6%!

In conclusion, it’s clear that if one were to simply dismiss the trend of migration as being negative to the country’s development, that kind of logic holds extremely less water in today’s scenario. The North-Eastern population is not only adding to the skilled workforce pool of the metros (by churning out a significantly literate populace), but also is contributing its might to the state domestic products of other states by encouraging spending on education. Keeping this in context, it’s time that we start encouraging such participation from North-Easterners rather than castigating them as per the rote.

Neha Saraiya

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Source : IIPM Editorial, 2010.

An Initiative of IIPM, Malay Chaudhuri and Arindam chaudhuri

(Renowned Management Guru and Economist).

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