Pahadi House

Blog on Migration in Uttarakhand

Migration in Uttarakhand

Migration has been one of the major problems faced by people of Uttarakhand for many decades. The state has been able to do anything but stop the migration. One can fairly assume that migration in 1980’s was the main driving factor for Uttarakhand movement demanding the creation of a new state. Everyone hoped that creation of a new state might help attain economic and industrial growth thus increasing opportunities for employment. However, the time has a different story to tell. Even though the state has seen better economic growth, it has not been able to curb the migration problem in hills. Despite everything, people from hilly areas in Uttarakhand are still migrating towards plain districts (intra-state migration) if not across states.

To stop the problem of migration we have to first understand the cause. Merely knowing the problem and urging people to stay back is not going to help; rather substantial resources must be made available for people to create an environment where they naturally want to stay.

Migration – Reasons and Impacts

Broadly it can be said that lack of basic amenities along with other resources required for both short and long-term growth of people is the main reason for their migration from hilly areas to plain districts. Before migration crept in, people in most of the part of Uttarakhand used to depend on farming and agriculture which offered them both food as well as self-created employment. They did not bother to seek salaried jobs for employment as they didn’t need it in the first place. Besides, people then hardly had any aspirations for a career in education which didn’t let them feel the need for one. As the time went by people became more aware of education and started exploring a career outside the household and agriculture. It made them realize the need for a quality education both at primary as well as higher level. The lack of such resources in the hill areas made people seek opportunities in the plain districts or outside the state itself. On one hand, we aspire to educate people to the last person, on the other hand, we don’t have substantial resources to do so.

Even if the educational resources were made available, the state needed employment opportunities to harness the professional expertise of the youths. As the hill region of Uttarakhand does not have adequate opportunities for employment, people tend to migrate to seek better options for employment.

Besides the aforementioned reasons, basic healthcare services, road connectivity, and basic needs to earn the livelihood are other reasons for people migrating to the other places. The lack of basic healthcare had made people move to the cities to take better care of themselves and avoid further health risks.

Migration has impacted the hilly areas of Uttarakhand in both the ways – good as well as bad. Migration has impacted people on the educational and professional level. It has improved the income and standard of living of source areas through several ways. Migration also helps migrant acquire new knowledge and technology which they can further extend to the society which otherwise would not have been possible. On the other side of the picture, people have abandoned their farmlands in large numbers, which had been developed by their ancestors for several years. In most of the parts, half of the cultivated land is lying barren. The reason for this abandonment is very low productivity in agriculture and practically no technical know-how of various agrlaborre needs. Also, to find the labor for agriculture production has been increasingly difficult in recent past thereby increasing the cost incurred. This has made people reluctant to continue farming their lands. The magnitude of out-migration is so huge that several villages are left with almost no people or very few old people. The barren lands and ruined houses have many sad stories to tell. Some of these villages would be lost to the world soon as people have permanently left their homes to never come back. Youths, whose ancestors had migrated to the cities, do not find their villages worthy enough to meet their needs or they have developed living habits which can not be met in the urban areas or the land of their ancestors.

Youth power is becoming growingly idle and inactive in Hill Region of Uttarakhand due to lack of employment opportunities outside agriculture. They are least interested in taking up tedious agriculture work in their fields.
Those who are left behind in villages are concerned to remain backward in the mainstream development as they have to worry about the education of their children, good health facilities, and other basic infrastructure.

Migration – Prevention Initiatives

The overall growth path of Uttarakhand has been impressive since its separation from Uttar Pradesh. However, this growth has created huge regional inequalities within the state. The growth process could hardly create any productive employment and income opportunities in the Hill region of the state. Although some of the opportunities outside the agriculture have grown significantly, local people are highly unwilling to undertake the work due to their lack of technical training and skill. Before making such opportunities available to the people, first thing is to ensure the right level of education and training so that youths are capable to take up the opportunities outside agriculture.

Apart from this, healthcare facilities and other basic physical infrastructure are the other things to be taken care of. This might not completely stop the migration but will certainly help reduce the extent of it. This will make sure that people do not feel the need to migrate and have complete resource availability. This might save a number of villages which have been developed by the ancestors to survive the race of the time.

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