The plight of inter-State migrants is not very different from that of refugees who lack citizenship rights
In India, you do not have to be excluded from the National Register of Citizens to experience a sense of loss of territory, identity, belongingness and livelihood. You could just as easily feel that way if you were a rural-to-urban migrant worker facing dislocation and “uprootedness” — a state of constant threat and anxiety with no sense of control over your spatial and temporal existence. This is akin to the experience of refugees who lack citizenship rights.A large chunk of migrant labourers’ shelter and work are deemed “illegal” within Indian cities. The 2011 Census pegs the total number of internal migrants in the country, including those who have moved within and across States, at a staggering 139 million.The state’s role is not as dormant as it appears, when it comes to undocumented workers. It is proactive in allowing the absorption of cheap labour into cities, to serve the bulging demand of the urban middle class. Sometimes these labourers are exploited, required to work below subsistence levels, and reside in subhuman conditions, which is then perceived as encroachment.
The national obsession with bringing order to international boundaries could also be applied within nation states, cities and neighbourhoods. The state’s role in ensuring equality, basic dignity, livelihood and providing minimum social security to its people must be upheld before all other priorities.