Panda, Shilpi Smita

Brick Kiln Workers from Rural Odisha, India: An Analytical Study of Seasonal Migration Shilpi Smita Panda - 2019 - 220 p.

The economic reforms and neo-liberal policies of late nineties have brought about irreversible transformations in the agrarian mode of production and have led to irresistible conflict over the allocation and distribution of natural resources. Around 70 percent of the rural population in the country depends on agriculture for their livelihood. The agricultural sector has been experiencing a negative growth, including decline in the size of landholdings, crop yields and labour force engaged in agriculture. The context and area of work transformed with the growing changes in the economic and agrarian structure but the relationship of dominance and servitude continued to exist between the owners and labourers. Agricultural labourers are presently bonded to various sources of debt contracted from different agro-industry and construction sectors. Migrant labour gets recruited in informal sectors such as textiles, construction, stone quarries and mines, brick-kilns, small scale industry, agro based industries, sugarcane cutting, plantations, rickshaw pulling, food processing including fish and prawn processing, salt panning, domestic work, security services, sex work, small hotels and roadside restaurants and tea shops and street vending.
Brick manufacturing is one such informal sector which recruits poor and miserable agricultural farmers who are indebted to the labour contractors. Brick kilns are small scale labour intensive manufacturing units located on the outskirts of cities, which draws labour from economically underdeveloped regions. Women and children become the worst sufferers in this process of migration. They work as an extended family labour and are deprived of health, housing, sanitation and education facilities in the work site. Brick industries work till the onset of monsoon season, so it recruits seasonal agricultural labourers, who can leave the industry and return to their native place during the rainy season. The labourers from native villages receive advances from the brokers of the brick kiln. Then they migrate to the brick industry to pay off the debt.
The study was conducted in three districts of KBK region of Odisha, India.300 brick kiln migrant workers, 21 labour contractors and 6 owners of the brick kilns were interviewed for the purpose of the study. To explore the various factors affecting the migration decisions, an Exploratory Factor Analysis followed by Multiple Regression was done. It was found that social factors affected the migration decisions more in the presence of other economic and non-economic factors. It was observed that the social network played a major role in organizing the migration. This network provides information about the work and wages at the destination. It was observed that the networks are based on trust and mutual reciprocity. 59 percent of the migrant households were provided information about the work contract through the migration brokers. The process of migration was embedded in the structure of migration which involved four stages: stage of alliance, stage of mobilisation, stage of work and stage of feedback movement. Migration was a never ending process rooted in debts and dependency.
To assess the impact of seasonal migration on the livelihood of the migrants, the DFID Sustainable Livelihood Framework was adopted. It was found that there was improvement in the possession of physical and financial assets among the migrants. The annual income of the migrant household has risen above 20,000/- after migration. Agricultural asset possession like plough, tractors have declined, but other assets like mobile phones, televisions have increased. But the migration has a negative impact on the social, human and natural capital. In order to understand the migrant and state’s relationship Giddens ’Structuration approach is utilized. Various policies and schemes of the government for controlling and regulating migration were reviewed. ISMWA act (labour registration), MGNREGA (wage employment) and PDS (food security) were overviewed. Even the NGO initiatives for resolving the migrant’s problem were also reviewed. It was found that the government policies suffered from poor implementation, lack of awareness, inadequate staffing and funds. Most of the migration was not registered and documented. Thus a collaborative effort of government and non-government organisations is required to deal with the problems of migration at the origin and destination

Humanities & Social Sciences--Tribal Studies
International Economics
Rural Sociology

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