A comprehensive database of migration in India which will address the following (non exhaustive) list of questions:
- What are the common origins and destinations of migrants in India, in each Indian state and in each Indian district?
- What are the stocks of migrants in India, in each Indian state and in each Indian district?
- What is the scale of seasonal, semi permanent, permanent migration in India?
- What is the scale of forced migration within India?
- What are the characteristics (gender, age, occupation and income & wealth levels) of migrants and their households involved in the various forms of migration in India?
- What is the scale of return migration in India and in each Indian state and district?
Simply put, there is no single migration database in India that can answer the above questions adequately. Measuring migration is a challenge from both a methodological and a resources (financial and time) stand point.
Even government data sources, the Census and NSSO — the two most commonly used sources of migration data base for India — are too infrequent and suffer from methodological limitations.
These limitation have severely hampered quality research and policymaking on migration in India.
As a result, some forms of migration are (most likely) invisible or severely underestimated to policymakers. This has contributed to a policy regime that assumes Indians are static and looks at migration as something to be reduced.
We must move from the prevalent practise of producing the best estimates possible from a survey to that of producing the best possible estimates to meet user needs from multiple data sources.
The challenge is to integrate diverse sets of inconsistent data and to produce stable outputs with often unstable, ever-changing inputs.
Instead of trying to produce the best possible statistics from a single survey, we need to try to find the best combination of sources to deliver the indicator/statistics that best satisfy the data users’ needs.
The core research will centre on what and how data diverse sources are combined to obtain a final data output — which best addresses the questions listed in the Why? section.
We will initially focus on the state of (Kerala) to test our methodology and scale up geographically from there.