Climate Instability and Labour Migration in India

By: Manoj Jatav & Deepika Jajoria
Climate-induced migration has put new emerging challenges for labour administration. Pre-existing regional inequalities, prevailing poverty levels, scattered and partial nature of existing labour laws, etc. alert us about further worsening of the vulnerable conditions of climate migrants.

Climate instability has emerged as one of the major threats to the ongoing efforts of the Indian government in achieving the targets set under various Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Keeping the labour and employment in the center of the development policy, climate instability has been recognised as a new challenge which affects the progress made through labour market policies and programmes to achieve the objective of providing full and productive employment and decent work for all in the country. SDG 8, pertaining to ‘decent work and sustainable economic growth’, sets targets for the member countries to ‘take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms’ (UN 2019). However, due to the uncertainty of extreme climatic events in different parts of the country, these targets seem to be difficult to achieve by the set timeline. Research forecasts a changed rainfall pattern and more intense hydrological cycle which will result in frequent and sever occurrence of extreme climatic evens such as droughts, cyclones and floods (IOM 2008). It is also estimated that during South Asian monsoon there will be 20 per cent more rainfall in eastern region of India and Bangladesh by the year 2050 (Houghton 2004). Indian sub-continent along with other neighbouring regions, is expected to be affected severely by the risk of flooding during the wet season and reduced water supply during the dry-season (Stern 2006).

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